Patrick Henry track star claims state’s 55-meter hurdle title

When your ultimate goal is only 55 meters away from you, a myriad of emotions can come to the surface. Patrick Henry track sensation Travis Phillips’ task was to quell those emotions and keep his eyes on the prize.

Patrick Henry’s Travis Phillips won the state title in the 55-meter hurdles during the final Group AAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Hampton. (H-P file photo)

“Before the race, all I could think about was achieving my goal, and that was winning a state title,” Phillips recalled.

Less than seven and a half seconds after the gun roared, his dream was a reality. Phillips overcame 27 competitors to win the boys 55-meter hurdles and earn the title of State Champion Saturday at the final Group AAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.

While there were several huge achievements by county athletes at the event, Phillips stands out as the lone state titleholder for 2013. There were no guarantees for him either, entering the preliminary round Friday with the fourth fastest time in Virginia this season. He clocked in at 7.47 in his qualifying heat, a personal season best, and the best time of the day. Still, he knew that Western Branch senior Aaron Simpson, Phoebus sophomore Charles Graham, and Grassfield freshman sensation Grant Holloway would line up with him in the finals.

Phillips set out to get the early advantage.

“Looking back, I felt like I wanted it more than anyone else,” Phillips said. “For me, being able to beat everyone out of the blocks was what went right for me.”

Phillips improved to a 7.42, just enough to cross the line ahead of Graham (7.44), Simpson (7.45) and Holloway (7.47).

Also returning to Ashland triumphantly were junior Shania Williams, who finished second in the girls shot put with a throw of 40 feet, 8 1/4 inches, improving on her fifth-place finish at the state level in 2012, while newcomer, freshman Tiffany Harris shattered her seed time in the girls 300-meter dash by more than two seconds to finish third in the state with a time of 39.51.

In the boys shot put, the Atlee Raiders were proudly represented by sophomore Austin Cannon, whose throw of 51 feet, 9 1/4 inches earned him fourth place honors, and by senior Griffin Carmichael, who ended his high school indoor career with a fifth place showing in the Boys 1,000-meter run at 2:31.23.

There’s no rest for the track and field weary, as practice for outdoor season went into full swing this week across the county.

Other notable performances from the State Championships include:

Girls Pole Vault: Madison Angus (Lee-Davis) was tied for 11th at 9 feet, 6 inches.

Boys Pole Vault: Bryce Simpson (Atlee) was tied for 10th at 12 feet, 6 inches.

Girls Shot Put: Williams’ teammate, Chiquitta Harris (Patrick Henry) finished 10th at 36 feet, 2 3/4 inches.

Girls 55 Meter Hurdles: Jessica Shelton (Patrick Henry) placed ninth overall with a time of 8.52.

Girls 4 X 200 Relay: Patrick Henry’s team of Harris, Shelton, Lynnell Fisher and Kiana Minor finished 12th in 1:46.45.

Girls 4 X 400 Relay: Parick Henry’s team of Harris, fellow freshmen Ashli Cole and Kanani Collins, and senior Logan Harrington, placed seventh in a time of 4:00.66, besting their seed time by nearly 11 seconds.

Boys 4 X 400 Relay: Atlee’s team of Joe Owecke, David Segovia, Brian Elliott and Carmichael placed 11th overall at 3:29.32.

Boys 4 X 800 Relay: Atlee’s team of Segovia, Tre Fields, Bizz Alidost and Carmichael also finished 11th overall in a time of 8:09.29.

Girls 1000 Meters: Annie Sadler (Hanover) placed 14th overall with a time of 3:05.70, less than five seconds away from receiving All-State honors.

Boys 300 Meters: Wesley Jones (Lee-Davis) finished ninth overall at 35.75, just .38 short of All-State honors.

Girls Team Standings: Patrick Henry’s squad finished 13th with 16 points.

Boys Team Standings: Patrick Henry finished 18th with 10 points, while Atlee placed 21st overall with 9.

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:26 am