WAHS Tennis Takes Third Straight State Championship; Track Stars Shine at National Meet

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By Nick Ward

Even though school has ended at Western Albemarle, three of its athletic teams still found themselves competing into the month of June. The boy’s varsity tennis team still had to defend it’s back-to-back state championships, and the weekend after graduation eight members of Coach Ix’s team traveled to Virginia Tech University to try to win a third straight title. The girls varsity track and field team took a relay team to the Nike Outdoor Nationals, and the boys varsity track and field team also took a relay and an individual athlete to Greensboro, North Carolina as well.

The WAHS tennis team, led by Joey Manilla and Alex Preve, made a great showing at the state championships once again. After losing the first set of his match, Manilla showed his mental strength as well as his skill as he came back to win against his opponent from Hidden Valley 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Preve was not able to win his individual match in the number two slot, which put pressure on his teammates to do well. Western’s three, four, and five men all won their matches, with Cam Scot and Teddy Nelson winning in three sets each, and Ahmed Kohkar winning in straight sets against his opponent.

This gave the Warriors a 4-2 overall lead after the individual matches, and since doubles have been a strength of the team all season long, a third straight championship was looking great for the Warriors. Hidden Valley was not intimidated by Western’s prowess in doubles and took the first two matches, evening the overall score at 4-4. Manilla and Preve, as well as Scot and Nelson, lost to their counterparts, which meant that the state title would depend on the winner of the third slot doubles match. Riley Wilson and Alex Politis were the two with the weight on their shoulders for WAHS, and they came up huge for their teammates, coming back from one set down to win the match two games to one. With this victory, the overall score became 5-4, tipping the scales in Western’s favor, giving them their third straight team state championship.

After helping the Western boys track and field team to captured the Virginia AA outdoor state championship, four seniors traveled to North Carolina to compete in the Nike Outdoor Track and Field National Championships: Tyler Stutzman, Kyle Satterwhite, James Howard-Smith, and Adrian Sitler.

In the two-mile individual race, Stutzman finished in 13th place, with a time of 9:14.71.

William Tillery’s Western Albemarle girls made a great showing at the meet, competing in the emerging elite category of the 4×800 meter relay. Hilary Wayland, the team’s lone upperclassman, crossed the line first for the Warriors, giving herself and her three young teammates a national championship in the emerging elite race. The future is as bright for the Warriors as the pink tank tops that the girls chose to wear during their race, with Sophomores Claire Johnson and Mattie Webb and freshman Katie Farina will all returning to the track for multiple seasons. The girls ran 9:30.03 in the 4×800 meter race, and they hope to improve on that mark in the future so that they may return to stardom on the National stage.

The boy’s distance medley relay went off on the last day of the meet, and the race went extremely well for the Warriors. The four seniors broke their own school record in the event and recorded the second fastest time ever run by a high school team in the state of Virginia. Satterwhite started the race off running the 1200m leg, and ran an amazing race. He set a new personal record in the 1200m run; handing the baton off to Sitler with 3:04 on the clock. Sitler, energized by Satterwhite’s great performance also ran a career-best 400m split: 50.28. Howard-Smith took the baton from Sitler and, like his teammates, outdid himself, running a personal best of 1:54.49.

Although the first three members of the four-man relay exceeded their own expectations, Stutzman did not receive the baton for the anchor leg in the lead. In 2008, when the Warriors won their first National Championship in the DMR at Nike Indoor Nationals, Stutzman also was not given the lead to start his mile run, but he was able to track down the leaders and win the race. As he had done more than a year ago, the Stanford bound senior ran an extremely quick first lap and managed to gain much needed ground on his opponents. He was able to take over the lead of the race and held onto it until 600 meters to go. Stutzman ran out of gas during the last lap and was not able to hold onto the lead for Western. It was a gutsy performance by a runner who had competed against the best high school runners in America the day before in the two mile race; his 4:10.52 split in the North Carolina heat was good enough for 6th place in the nation.