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Shorthanded Lafayette girls roll to first state track title

HARRISONBURG -- As Lafayette High senior Adriana Hooks put it, everything the Rams' girls track and field team expected to happen this season, happened. 

It just didn't happen the way the team expected it to at the Group 3A state championships. Lafayette lost its top sprinter and long jumper, Megan Jones, to a hamstring injury on Day 1 of the meet Friday. But the Rams regrouped and rallied around Jones to claim the school's first girls state track and field team title after coming short, in second, by only several points to Blacksburg in this year's indoor meet. 

Lafayette coach Mel Jones said losing Megan, who entered the meet as the reigning long-jump state champion, was like "losing a child in an accident."

"She's just like my daughter," said Mel Jones. "She brings so much to the team."

"We figured out today when she went down, the rest of the girls rallied around her. From the team we were yesterday to the team we were today, they were a different team. Where did they come from?"

Blacksburg might have been wondering the same thing. The second-place Bruins never really got close and finished with 80 points to Lafayette's 121. 

After claiming the indoor state title in March, the Rams' boys finished third Saturday with 46 points, behind Loudoun Valley (56) and Heritage of Lynchburg (46.5). 

The Rams didn't accomplish the feat with a pile of golds -- although there were some: Kathryn Tomczak in the pole vault, Audrey Hurley in the 400 meters, and Hurley, Alexus Wells, Selena Jones and Summer Chambers in the in the 4x400 relay.

And with Megan Jones looking on from near the Harrisonburg High bleachers, standing on crutches beside Mel Jones, Lafayette's Alexus Wells won the long jump title (17 feet, 5.75 inches).

"When she got hurt, everybody was devastated," said Wells, "but we just focused on everything we needed to do. We just wanted to push harder so that we could make up for what she wasn't able to cover."

Chris Short, a Virginia Tech recruit, closed his Warhill career by winning the 800 and anchoring the first-place 4x400 relay.

The Lions' boys finished ninth overall and the girls 17th.

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