Patriot's Shadrach Nvodjo hits the finish line in a time of 21.52 in the 200 meters to win the event and help his team to an overall team title at the VHSL Region 6B T&F Championships held on Tuesday and Wednesday May 23-24 at Freedom High School.

Patriot rode an unstoppable wave of consistency, with podium finishes up and down the results sheet before a breakthrough in the 4x100-meter relay, to claim the boys side of the Class 6 Region B track and field title at Freedom High School in Woodbridge on Wednesday.

A 155-88.5 final margin over second-place Woodbridge reflected the Pioneers' credentials as a contender at next weekend's state meet in Newport News. Colonial Forge won the girls championship, a 98.5-92 triumph over Osbourn Park secured by Kate Loescher's win in the two-mile.

Battlefield finished in a comfortable third, highlighted by Colleen Kelly's late charge to win the mile with a time of 5 minutes, 2.14 seconds.

During Tuesday's field events, Osbourn Park's Lena Gooden set a meet record in the long jump at 20-4 ½. Gooden left Tuesday nursing a minor injury and returned for the running events as a supportive teammate instead, opting to rest up for states.

"I got out there with no expectations to break any records or anything, but the [personal record] was great," said Gooden, who broke her own record in the process for good measure.

A senior, she signed with Vanderbilt last fall and chose the Commodores for their reputation as an academic powerhouse - Gooden will be a pre-med student - within the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference.

The Yellow Jackets went 1-2-3 in the pole vault, led by junior Viviana Rodriguez repeating her 2022 win in the event with an outdoor personal record of 11'9".

"It's absolutely amazing," Rodriguez said of her teammates' efforts to join her at the top of the chart. Behind Anna Kunz's 10'0" and Sidney Yang's 9'6", the Osbourn Park sweep gave them 24 critical points that went a long way in the end.

Loescher's 11:14.60 finish in the two-mile mathematically clinched the Colonial Forge win in the second-to-last race. Before that, junior Alex Hopkins ran the 200 in 24.98 seconds (two one-hundredths of a second better than Gooden's meet record from 2021) to give the Eagles some much-needed breathing room.

Colonial Forge coach Van Green was "pleasantly surprised" at the win, even as other teams were battling injury.

"I know some of the other schools had some key parts missing and that kind of opened the door for us to get in there.," Green said. "We were able to seize it at the end, [but] Osbourn Park made us work for it ... I'm just happy for my girls, they worked hard and they deserve this."

The Patriot boys racked up four second-place finishes - in the 4x800 relay, high jump, 100, and the mile - before victory in the 4x100. Senior Shadrach Nvodjo was the anchor leg, then provided an exclamation point with a meet-record 21.52 in the 200.

“I feel like it was the strongest heat I’ve ever ran in,” Nvodjo said of his competition. “There were a lot of people that I knew coming in were going to be doing some crazy stuff … I got out hard, held that, [and] started feeling it around the 150 but I knew I had to stay tall.”

Nvodjo, a future Winthrop Eagle, credited first-year Patriot coach James DeMarco for his motivation skills, saying that the extra push the team got from him came in the form of enhanced warmups and strategies within the races themselves.

“Everyone does their little piece of the puzzle in a track meet, and you get what we had today,” DeMarco said of a group effort that he referred to multiple times as a “complete program.” The Pioneers scored in 16 of 17 events, missing the mark only in discus.

“My job as [someone] getting the head job this year is trying to get to know all of my athletes and find the thing they could be better at,” DeMarco said. “You’re just trying to find all those pieces in an encouraging way … I think as the season has gone on after indoor, they started believing in themselves more and more.”

Their belief - and DeMarco’s - paid off with a mob scene in the infield when the Pioneers were officially announced as regional champions and lifted the trophy high above their heads.

High school spring postseason schedule/results

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