When Herndon High’s Kirk Nguyen failed to place in the boys’ shot put event at the Concorde District outdoor track and field championships May 19-21 at Westfield High School, his coaches challenged him to put more effort and focus into the event at the following week’s Northern Region championships.
Nguyen, exceptionally gifted in both the shot put and discus events, had won the discus at districts but had totally fallen off the map in shot put, finishing tied for 14th overall. A few early mistakes in the first few rounds of the competition had put him in a hole he could not get out of in the event.
“He was awful in the shot put at districts,” said Herndon head coach Pete Sherry. “He hit rock bottom in that event and realized he couldn’t ignore it [priority-wise] any further.”
Nguyen, with a new mindset in regards to shot put, was a different competitor at regionals the following weekend (May 27-28) at Lake Braddock High School where he won both the shot put and discus events to help boost the Hornet boys to a third place tie with host school Lake Braddock in the team standings.
“He really stepped up at regionals,” said Sherry.
And, a week after that, Nguyen capped the postseason with a good effort at the state AAA championships at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond with a sixth place finish in discus and a ninth place in shot.
Nguyen’s postseason resurgence was one of numerous highlights for Herndon High athletes throughout the districts, regionals and state competitions.
At districts, the Herndon girls’ team put together a strong second place showing with 126 points, finishing behind champion Oakton (146) and ahead of third place Robinson (99).
Carina Peter had a fabulous showing at districts with first place finishes in both the 100 and 200 races, as well as the long jump event.
“She’s a big, strong athletic kid,” said Sherry, of the sophomore. “She had a solid freshmen year and has gotten better and better [as a sophomore].”
Other first place finishes at districts came from Cc Chambers in the discus and Mehnaz Haq in the 800 race. Chambers was also a third place finisher in the shot put.
Another outstanding showing came from Tania Hassan, who was second in the 300 hurdles, third in both the 100 hurdles and triple jump and fourth in the pole vault.
Other solid district showings for the Herndon girls came from Carolyn Hennessey (second in the 1600, third in the 3200), Chelsea Proctor (fourth in triple jump, fifth in long jump), Enuma Ezenwa (fifth in the 400), Belle Burgess (fifth in the 1600, seventh in the 3200) and Sarah Roethel (sixth in both high jump and pole vault).
The Herndon girls’ 4x800 relay finished first while the 4x400 team was second.
<b>THE HERNDON BOYS</b> finished just fourth at districts, finishing behind champion Centreville, second place Oakton and third place Chantilly.
Herndon’s lone first place finisher was Nguyen in discus. Several Hornets were multi-event place finishers for the boys’ team, including Jack Jasper (second in the 3200, third in the 1600), Jesus Hernandez (third in the 100, fifth in the 200) and Shariff Mazlan (fifth in both long and triple jumps, sixth in the 300 hurdles). Also earning points were Brian Fuentes (fourth in 300 hurdles), Deshawn Summerville (fourth in 100), Andrew Hatch (fourth in discus), Austin Miller (fifth in pole vault), Kevin Truong (fifth in 300 hurdles) and Omar Zaki (sixth in the 800).
The Herndon boys, at regionals the following week, put together an exceptional showing with their third place team finish (tied with Lake Braddock). It was a big improvement from the teams’ district showing.
“We certainly didn’t expect that,” said Sherry, of the boys tying for third at regionals. “We were really happy with that performance.”
Nguyen finished first in both the shot put and discus events to lead the Hornet boys. Good outings for Herndon also came from Jasper (4th in the 1600), Hernandez (5th in the 200) and Miller (7th in pole vault).
Herndon’s 4x100 relay team finished second to first place Robinson. The Hornets’ foursome was made up of Hernandez, DeShawn Summerville, Shariff Mazlan and Josh Schow.
Herndon’s 4x800 relay team of Tim White, Jasper, David Kloosterboer and Omar Zalki finished fifth. Both relays advanced to states.
“We weren’t sure if either [relay] would get to states, and both did,” said Sherry.
The coach credited Schow with leading the 4x100 team.
“He was the boys’ anchor and did a good job getting that group together,” said Sherry.
Jasper, who will try to walk-on with the William & Mary men’s track team next school year, was the fastest leg on the 4x800 relay.
“Being on the relay team helped him a lot,” said Sherry, of Jasper. “He was the most important leg and a senior on that relay. Putting some emphasis on relays took some of the pressure of some of his other events.”
<b>IN THE GIRLS TEAM</b> standings at regionals, Herndon and Oakton tied for fifth place with 46 points. Lake Braddock was the team champion, followed by second place South County, third place West Potomac and fourth place Edison.
Herndon’s Carina Peter was champion in the 100 dash. Other top individual scorers for the Hornets were Hennessey (3rd in the 3200, 4th in the 1600), Hassan (tied for fourth in pole vault, 5th in 300 hurdles) and Cc Chambers (6th in shot put).
The Herndon girls had two fourth place relay teams – the 4x100 (Hassan, Chelsea Proctor, Enuma Ezenwa and Peter) and the 4x400 (Ezenwa, Mehnaz Haq, Hassan and Peter). The Hornets’ 4x800 relay team - of Nina Bagley, Haq, Belle Burgess and Hennessey - was fifth.
For the Herndon boys at the state championships in Richmond, Jasper finished fifth in the 1600 race. In field events, Nguyen earned sixth place in discus and ninth in shot put for the Hornets.
For the Herndon girls, Hennessey finished fifth in the two-mile race and Peter was seventh in both the 100 and 200 races.
Nguyen, who will be competing as a member of the George Mason University track and field team next school year, was named the Herndon boys’ team MVP this spring.