Area high school distance running standouts are like supernova or shooting stars. They shine brightly for four years in cross country and track races, then disappear from sight after their high school graduation. It's not like they stop competing, it's just that their running careers take them to colleges all across the U.S., and unless you follow the sport through Track and Field News, or through the website MileStat.com, you don't know what they've done in recent years.
The exception to that anonymity after high school is when they pop into a local road race during their summer break, or after graduation from college. Every summer Sports Illustrated has a "Where Are They Now" issue, where they feature what's going on now with former pro athletes, and this past week's issue featured Hampton's basketball great Allen Iverson. This article is the Virginia Gazette equivalent to SI's "Where Are They Now," and the feature is former York High distance star Jack Little, who after a superlative high school career, disappeared to the University of Tennessee for four years of NCAA competition. Little showed up Tuesday at the Yorktown Independence Day 8K and 5K Run, starting and finishing at the same Yorktown high school he attended.
Little, 23, of Yorktown, ran 27:36 to win the featured 8K event (4.97 miles) by 1 ½ minutes over Joshua Shackelford, 16, of Hayes (29:07), with Jim Lancaster, 40, of Virginia Beach third (30:25) and Randy Shelton, 41, of Mechanicsville fourth (30:45). Other men under seven-minute pace were Craig Hymes, 54, of Yorktown (32:01), Mike Nestor, 47, of Virginia Beach (33:15), Paul Day, 32, of Virginia Beach (33:25), Nate Wallace, 35, of Yorktown (33:43), Jason Todd, 36, of Newport News (34:12), Zachary Tarantelli, 16, of Saint Johns, FL (34:17), Brian Hakes, 36, of Newport News (34:32) and David Argabright, 37, of Yorktown (34:43). Will Murray, 61 (35:18) and Steve Seiler, 31 (35:58) were the top Williamsburg runners.
For the women, the winner was Madeleine King, 18, of Virginia Beach (33:26), exactly one minute ahead of runner-up Jennifer Anderson, 36, of Poquoson (34:26). Also under eight-minute pace for the women were Kaleigh Renninger, 17, of Uniontown, OH (36:31), Samantha Bradley, 29, of Newport News (37:30), Ashley Bruce, 23, of Yorktown (38:19), Helen Cox, 53, of Toano (38:46), and Jami Callahan-Brill, 50, of Hampton (39:14).
Little (a 2012 graduate) ran outstanding times at York High. His 800-meter best of 1:56.84 placed him fourth in the 2011 Virginia state AA outdoor track championships. He ran a 4:17.9 for 1,600 meters at the 2012 Southern Track Classic and 9:22.8 for 3,200 meters at the 2012 New Balance Outdoor National track meet. In cross country he had a 5K best of 15:36 at the 2011 Foot Locker South Region qualifying meet. He was 14-time all Bay Rivers district, 8-time district champion, 5-time all-state and once a state champion (indoors in 2012 at 1,000 meters). He made the first-team Daily Press all-star team three years in cross country and three years in track, and was the 2011 Daily Press Runner of the Year in cross country.
Little commented that he "had the honor of being coached by one of the best in the business, Williamsburg's Drew Mearns, during my high school career, who as a true master of his craft, taught me a great deal. Additionally, I had the honor of running for coach Sam Jackson at York High School in the final years of his 40-plus year career before retirement in 2011." His York High teammates included two other standouts, Andrew Osborne (Lynchburg College) and Dawson Connell (William and Mary).
At Tennessee he ran all four years in cross country (where he was co-captain his senior year) and track. His track PRs were 8:26.96 indoors at 3,000 meters (at the 2016 SEC indoor championships) and 14:33.26 at 5,000 meters (at the 2016 Florida Relays). In cross country his 8K PR of 25:03 came at the 2015 SEC championships, and 10K PR of 31:44 was at the NCAA Southeast Region qualifying meet. He made the All-Academic SEC team all four years at UT, graduating cum laude in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. This past post-grad year was at Lynchburg College and their doctor of physical therapy program. This summer he is home in Yorktown while interning at Suffolk Home Health. He was a volunteer assistant coach this past year at Lynchburg. "It was an absolute pleasure to work with them and time them at meets, especially watching the final year of senior Andrew Osborne competing, my fellow York High teammate."
In the less competitive 5K run Tuesday, the top three men were Gregory Saur, 35, of Yorktown (19:50), Michael Ramey, 32, of Newport News (22:48) and Gabriel Wrye, 12, of Hampton (23:29). The top three women were Jackie Hoffman, 24, of Newport News (20:16), Megan Schulze, 34, of Glen Allen (24:13) and Katharine Warehime, 35, of Frederick, MD (24:55).
The 8K, starting at 8 a.m., was a scenic loop of the Yorktown Battlefield tour roads, and the 5K, starting 10 minutes after the 8K, was an out-and-back of the tour roads, each starting at Surrender Field, adjacent to York High. There were 257 finishers in the 8K race this year and 152 finishers in the 5K. The races were organized by and benefited the York County Historical Museum, with computer chip timing by Mettle Events of Chesapeake.
Last year, when the Independence Day 8K was a Peninsula Track Club Grand Prix race, and a Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix event, there were 410 entrants in the 8K, and 398 finishers in the 8K (the 5K was un-timed so did not have official finisher totals). When the York County Historical Museum decided this year to go with chip timing, the PTC (which uses bar codes and pull tags for their timing system) was no longer able to be involved, and the 8K was dropped from both PTC and Super Grand Prix status.