State summit is Eagles’ desired perch on the track

by | Mar 21, 2024 | ALLFFP, High school sports, Sports, Stafford

Although the Colonial Forge High School track and field program has dominated the Commonwealth District for many years, Eagles co-head coach Sean Hill does not believe the program is respected statewide. 

Hill feels that way because, while Stafford County schools have captured cross country state championships, no team has ever won a track and field state title. 

After the Colonial Forge girls placed third in Class 6 this past indoor season — just seven points away from that elusive state title — Hill and head coach Van Green are confident that this spring the Eagles can garner not just a district championship, but a regional and state crown, as well. 

The Colonial Forge boys track and field team poses with its Region 6B indoor track and field championship trophy.Colonial Forge’s boys and girls are fielding deep and competitive teams with the outdoor season now in full swing.

“The conversation is usually, ‘When we get to states, I hope we place top five,’” Hill said. “Now it’s, ‘When we get there, we’re going to put all the chips on the table and we’re going to take a shot at the title and make history in Stafford.’” 

For the girls, it starts with senior standout sprinter Alex Hopkins, who won the state championship in the 60 meters this past indoor season (6.97 seconds) and set a school record in the 200 (24.8 seconds). 

Hopkins was also a member of the 800-meter relay team that captured the indoor state title. She competed in the Adidas Nationals in Virginia Beach earlier this month and placed fifth in the nation in the 200. 

“Everybody sees the results, but if you look at her progression over the past two years, it really shows,” Hill said. “She’s only been running track full time for two years.” 

Up to that point, Hopkins was focusing on soccer — the sport her sister, Amari Hopkins excelled in at Mountain View before going on to compete at Kansas University and the University of Louisville. 

Hill said Hopkins’ ascension has been one of the program’s greatest achievements since he returned as coach in 2022. 

“What worked for me [during indoor season] is I did not run as many meets because that was my problem last year,” Hopkins said. “I had way too many races on me. So, the fact that I did not run as much gave my body a break, and I was able to perform and become a state champion.” 

Hopkins is not alone on the girls’ side, as evidenced by the Eagles’ district title and runner-up finish in Region 6B this past winter. Distance runner Kate Loescher was second in the state in the 1,600 and the 3,200 to culminate the indoor campaign. Jada Hatcher was all-state in the 55 hurdles and Ashley Fuller was fourth in the shot put. The outdoor season adds the 300 hurdles and the discus, so Hill is confident his girls can make up the points that cost them the indoor state title. 

“We can find those seven points,” Hill said. 

The boys figure to be competitive, as well, after capturing the district and region title for indoor. They are led by Hill’s son, Brian Harris, who was a two-time state champion jumper as a freshman before a torn meniscus made his sophomore season less memorable by comparison.  

Harris also suffered a broken collarbone during football season that required a plate and six screws to repair. He began training in January and was able to long jump 23 feet, 9 inches, which leaves him ranked third in the nation among juniors. 

Harris said that while competing at nationals recently left him physically drained, “mentally, I’m feeling great.” 

“He’s having fun again,” Hill said. “Winning two state titles as a freshman puts a lot of pressure on you … We know what he is capable of doing. Everything is starting to come together now.” 

Harris and the Colonial Forge sprinters will get a boost from the distance runners this spring. 

Senior Cameron Sidebotham, who placed fifth in the state in the indoor 3,200, said the distance runners made a pact with the sprinters and jumpers to do their part so that more team success can be achieved. The Eagles have won every indoor and outdoor district title for boys and girls since Hill returned, but now, they are aiming higher. 

“I feel like in years past, the sprinters were doing a lot of the work and distance was just fending for ourselves,” Sidebotham said. “But we’ve got a really good training base and we’re coming off a really good cross country season. The guys are all motivated, and we’re going to pull our end as best we can.” 

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