The Kentucky Derby and Cosmopolitan Invitational were held on Saturday. On the surface, the Triple Crown horse race and a high school track and field meet couldn't be more different. However, both events share an underlying thread of dedication, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence.
The Blacksburg Bruins proved their determination by winning the boys and girls team titles at the Cosmopolitan Invitational at William Fleming High School.
The Blacksburg boys won with 75 points, while William Byrd was second (64) and Franklin County finished in a tie for third (52) with Pulaski County.
Blacksburg’s Will Harrison won the boys 110-meter hurdles (14.74 seconds) and 300 hurdles (39.71), while teammates Ben Hager and Daniel Bandera won the 400-meter dash (50.72) and 800 dash (2:01.75), respectively.
Even though the Franklin County boys came in third place, they still had a dominant performance from Isaiah Moorman. He won the boys 100 dash (10.65) and 200 dash (21.87), while being the anchor on Franklin County’s winning 4x100 relay team (42.96).
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Moorman's performance was even more impressive considering his relative inexperience.
About a year ago, Franklin County sprinters coach Travis Johnson reached out to Moorman after hearing that he was one of the fastest runners at Franklin County High School.
But even though Johnson had heard of Moorman, he had never seen him run. Moorman had never been on a team in high school before.
“I was at home,” Moorman said. “I wasn't doing nothing, no workouts or anything. I literally would go home, go to school and play [Fortnite]. I was just a regular high school kid.”
Johnson said he knew Moorman had natural talent the first time he witnessed him run.
At the Cosmopolitan Invitational, Moorman helped prove his coach right.
“Oh, it feels good to come out here my senior year, the only year doing track and breaking two records,” Moorman said. “And going out here to pop off in front of the people.”
Floyd County’s Mason Erchull won the 1,600 in 4:30.82 and collapsed following his victory. He said his legs felt weak.
“The happiness after the race will be better than the pain during the race,” Erchull said. “So I just push it right there and win the race. It's going to feel amazing.”
The Bruins dominated the girls competition with 120 points, while Northside and Roanoke Catholic tied for second with 51 points.
Blacksburg's girls had dominant wins from Mia Littlejohn in the 100 hurdles (15.50) and 300 hurdles (47.12).
Blacksburg’s Sarah Duetsch won the pole vault (9 feet, 6 inches) and helped her team win the 4x400 relay in 4:31.27.
Northside’s Simone Hamlar won the 100 dash (12.68), 200 dash (26.28) and 400 dash (59.15).
Roanoke Catholic got wins from Karly Smith in the high jump (5-0) and Mickie O’Herron in the triple jump (33-2).
North Cross’ Kerrigan Chaney won the 800 (2:24.60) and 1,600 (5:18.82).
“It's a little bit of natural talent,” Chaney said. “My mom was a track runner too, so I got that from her.
“I've always been one of the fastest girls in my grade and then also just training with the varsity boys on my team every day pushes me.”
Nadia Jackson anchored the Pulaski County girls to a close win in the 4x100 relay over Cave Spring. Pulaski County finished in 51.65.
“It just pushes me harder when people are on me,” Jackson said. “I tend to go faster. So it's kind of just like natural.”
Pulaski County’s Diego Turner and James River’s Emma Francis each earned a $3,500 academic scholarship from the Cosmopolitan Club.