Local Teams, Athletes Capture Gold in 48th Cosmopolitan Track and Field Meet

Runners pass in front of the crowd that attended Saturday's 48th annual meet held at William Fleming.
Runners pass in front of the crowd that attended Saturday’s 48th annual meet held at William Fleming.

Despite chilly winds all afternoon, local teams and athletes finished strong in the 48th annual Cosmopolitan Invitational Track and Field Meet Saturday at the William Fleming track.

Numerous meet records were broken and several multiple winners highlighted the full day of events run in front of a sizable and enthusiastic crowd.

In the senior boys team competition, William Fleming used home-track advantage to capture first place by an 18-point margin over runner-up Christiansburg.

Other local top-10 senior boys finishes included Salem (4th), William Byrd (7th), Patrick Henry (9th) and Hidden Valley (10th).

On the girls senior top-10 side, William Fleming finished second to winner Blacksburg, followed by Byrd (5th), Cave Spring (9th) and Hidden Valley (10th).

Some of the key gold medal winners included Fleming’s Khalil Bonds, who swept the three sprint 100, 200 and 400-meter runs. Bonds was named the meet’s senior boys outstanding track runner for his efforts.

Fleming’s Warren Craft captured the meet’s outstanding boys senior field events performer after bringing home gold in the triple jump and 300-hurdles, along with a silver in the long jump.

On the senior girls side, the best showdown of the meet began in the preliminaries Friday evening, when Southwest County standouts Katie Fortner of Cave Spring and Carolyn Bethel of Hidden Valley ran in the 800-meter.

Fortner set the standard when she established a new meet record with a time of 2:15.90 in an opening heat. Fortner’s record was short-lived when moments later, in the next heat, Bethel circled the two laps in 2:14.38.

Things became anti-climatic Saturday when Fortner was scratched in the potential finals rematch after battling strep throat. Bethel, heading to Northern Arizona University this fall on a running scholarship, cruised to the gold before following up the 800-win with another gold in the 3,200 with a time of 10:38.63, nearly a minute clear of the second-place finisher.

University of North Carolina signee Caroline Brailsford of Patrick Henry took home gold in the pole vault after clearing the bar at 11-feet, a full six inches above the prior record set in 2005 by former PH vaulter Nancy Baar.

In the relay competition, the William Byrd girls won the 3,200-meter, while the Salem boys took gold in the 400-meter, with the Byrd boys coming in first in the 3,200.

– Bill Turner