Walsingham girls expect to compete for another track and field state crown

Walsingham Academy's Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II track and field invitational offers a good barometer for how the Trojans may stack up in the state championships later this month.

Good news for Walsingham: Its girls, who followed an outright state title in 2015 with a share of a team state championship last year with Broadwater Academy, dominated on Saturday as the Trojans played host to the biggest field they have welcomed for the annual event that was met with searing morning and afternoon sunshine. Fifteen schools and 371 total student-athletes competed and the Walsingham girls finished with 195 points in the varsity competition, besting second-place Hampton Roads Academy by 93 points.

Third-place Broadwater had 95 points and Walsingham's varsity boys (98 points) were third overall behind first-place HRA (159 points) and second-place Peninsula Catholic (121 points).

This may be the strongest girls team coach Rich Higgins has had at Walsingham and if it is at full strength for the state championships — which are preceded by next week's Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools meet, and then the state Catholic meet — the Trojans should compete to three-peat.

Higgins reckons that on a perfect day for Walsingham, along with a not-so-perfect one for Norfolk Academy, the Trojans could even give the TCIS-favorite Bulldogs a run for their money.

"Some of our younger sprinters have really developed," Higgins said. "And a couple of the kids that did show promise last year and scored some points, are scoring more."

Lacrosse standout Cammie Mann tallied 36.5 points Saturday including a first place in the long jump and triple jump.

Then there are the pleasant surprises like freshman Sarah Benson, who finished with 28 points Saturday including a first place in the high jump.

Mann and Benson also combined with newcomer Lehjah Hamrick and veteran Caroline Schumacher to help the 4x100 relay team set a school record of 52.67.

Hamrick added a first in the 100 and Catherine Schumacher won the 1600 before the Trojans' team of Caroline Schumacher, Mann, Kiely Curran, and Khatiana Perez closed the afternoon with a win in the 4x400.

Caroline Schumacher has already hit state-qualifying marks in the 100, 200 and 400 whereas her sister, Catherine has grown into a much improved distance runner.

Clare Kinney, Frankie Riggs and Chelsea Marcombe are among Walsingham's other top points-grabbers, contributing to a very balanced team. "We have two to three people in every event who can score for us," Higgins said.

For the boys, Randolph College recruit Chris Correll took second Saturday in both the 110 and 300 hurdles for Walsingham. Jay Gutches was second in the 400 and Holden Kearns finished second in the shot put.

Connor Norris and baseball player Tredell Blow, when available, have also been key contributors for the Trojans.

Walsingham will continue regular season action Wednesday in a quad meet at HRA.

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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