Randolph-Henry High’s track season ‘a learning experience’

Published 11:10 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

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This year’s Randolph-Henry High track team was relatively inexperienced. Featuring five seniors, all of whom were just entering their second year in track, and a majority of freshmen and eighth graders breaking into the sport, the group was learning just as much about the sport as they were competing. 

The Randolph-Henry track and field team concluded its 2023 season on June 2nd and 3rd at the VHSL Class 2 Championships on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  

The boys long-distance crew, led by coach’s award recipient and freshman Zeke Barton,lowered their time throughout the season in the 3200 meters. The girls distance team featured four eighth graders, all participating in the 1600 meters, and Senior Addie Sassi, who captured the James River District title in the 3200 meters. Girls mid-distance was led by 400-meter state qualifier and girls MVP Isabella Thompson

Thompson, who was a freshman this year, placed third in the James River District and third at the Class 2 Region A Championship, where she ran a season best 1:05:45. Thompson went on to place 10th at the state competition. 

The boys mid-distance team was led by eighth grader and standout Jackson Rupple-Lee, who held his own against upperclassman district competition in the 400, 800, and 1600 meters.  Another of the Statesmen’s strengths was a small but determined sprint crew.  Three-year runner and Junior Nika’ Daniel returned to form after fighting through injuries last season and off-season, and was joined by freshman Nevaeh Staten who moved to sprint from mid-distance as an eighth grader. Staten posted team-best times in the 100 and 200 meters.  

The Boy’s sprint team was led by freshman Keon Elam and senior Jaquante Robertson, who were joined by returners and fellow football standouts Cameron Sizemore and Jaylen Mitter.  Elam would go on to be one of two freshmen to qualify for the Class 2 State Championships and would finish the season ranked 12th in Class 2 overall, and became the 11th ranked freshman across all classes in the state of Virginia.  Robertson qualified in the 100 and 200 meters on the state level and finished the season ranked 9th in the state in the 200.  

Randolph-Henry’s most dominant group in the 2023 season were its throwers. Two-time state qualifier Shykera Wilson led the girls, placing fourth in the James River District in the shotput.  Boys discus was led by Jaquante Robertson and K.J. Boyd who placed second and third, respectively, in the James River District.  Shot-putter Chad Burton Captured the James River District title, with K.J. Boyd coming in second at that event.  These three were joined by senior Shyhemi Wilson who was a weekly scorer and district standout throughout the season.  Burton would go on to medal at states, taking eighth place, where he threw a season best 45’-5”.  

Coaches Joshua Guill and John Engelhorn both remarked on the Randolph-Henry team’s success, citing great student leadership and the athletes’ willingness to take ownership of their training and performance this season.