Four by 800 meter relay team wins state championship

The state champions stand on top of the podium. From left to right: Andrew Bennett, Clinton Clancy, Caleb Wilcox, Andrew Hathaway

Andrew Hathaway

The state champions stand on top of the podium. From left to right: Andrew Bennett, Clinton Clancy, Caleb Wilcox, Andrew Hathaway

Ben Schneider, Editor-in-Chief

Caleb Wilcox, Andrew Bennett, Andrew Hathaway and Clinton Clancy won the 4 by 800 meter state title on Friday, Feb. 24 during the indoor track and field state championship meet at the Virginia Beach Sports Center. 

The team finished in eight minutes and four seconds for an official time of 8:04.15. The race featured four runners for every team, with only one running at a time; each athlete ran 800 meters before handing the baton to a teammate. 800 meters, or roughly half a mile, is four laps of the 200 meter indoor track. 

Clover Hill’s squad beat the second and third place teams, Douglas Freeman and Glen Allen, by four seconds, countering Glen Allen after the Jaguars were the only team to beat them at the cross country state meet in November.  

Hathaway, a junior, opened the race for the Cavaliers. Known for his speed as a 500 meter dash state qualifier, Hathaway attempted to hang on to the runners at the front before passing or pulling even with them on the spring during the last lap. Starting on the waterfall line in the outer lanes several meters from the normal starting line with the rest of the top seeds, he ran on the outer lanes for the first 200 meter lap. On the home straight of that lap he was allowed to merge to the inner lanes and he finished the first lap towards the front. 

On the back straight of the second lap, he moved into lanes 2 and 3 on the outside of the pack and put on speed to move up, entering second place by the second turn of the second lap. However, he fell to fifth by the end of the second lap. On the first half of the third lap, he stumbled in the crowded pack, but kept his footing, and fell to sixth place. On the last lap, he delivered a finishing kick to move around even with the fifth place runner and finish in 2:05, 4 seconds off his personal record of 2:01. 

After finishing his four laps, he handed the baton to Bennett. The senior started his leg of the relay in sixth place and then began to pick off other runners one by one. By the end of the first lap, he had moved up to fifth. Bennett then pulled even with the fourth place runner on the second turn of the second lap and passed him on the home straight. 

Bennett receives a handoff from junior Andrew Ellingson during a 4 by 800 meter race earlier in the season. (Andrew Bennett)

During the third lap, he moved up to even with the second and third place runners by the second turn. He entered the fourth lap in fourth place, a few steps behind the second and third place runners. On the back straight of the fourth lap, he moved into lane two and put on a burst of acceleration to pass the third place runner. He then finished with a time of 2:01 and handed the baton to Clancy. 

Clancy, a senior and Longwood commit, received the baton in third place, with about 15 meters separating him from the first and second place runners from Glen Allen and Massaponax, who were close together. The positions held the same as Clancy chased the two through the first lap. On the second lap, he closed the gap in between himself and the top two as the fourth place runner from Douglas Freeman closed the gap on him. By the start of the third lap, the four runners were roughly equidistant from each other with each gap roughly a step. 

It was a tight race with each runner planning how to make a move to get to the front. On the back straight of the third lap, Clancy passed the second place runner from Massaponax with the Douglas Freeman runner. He passed the Glen Allen runner coming out of the second turn and widened the gap at the finish of the third lap. On the last lap, however, the Glen Allen runner passed him and he finished in time of 2:00, about 5 meters behind first, having run four minute mile pace for half a mile. 

Wilcox then took the baton for the anchor leg. The junior, and the team’s best 800 meter runner, then immediately sprinted forward with blazing speed and passed the Glen Allen runner on the first turn, quickly opening a nearly ten meter lead. 

The lead had shrunk by the end of the first lap but Wilcox retained it. On the second lap, he widened the lead again, leaving the three runners behind him in the chase pack 20 meters back. On the third lap, he kept the accelerator pressed down and the lead only grew. The fourth lap seemed like a mere formality as the only competition was for the other places. Wilcox widened his stride, swinging his arms widely as he lapped several runners on the finishing sprint, expending all his remaining energy. He then sprinted for the finish and crossed the line to win. His time was 1:57, a new personal record and one of the best times in the state. 

This year’s team is the first from Clover Hill to win the 4 by 800 meter relay race state championship since 1995.