How (and Why) Fairfax (Va.) HS Won a 4 x 100 Using a High Jump Bar for a Baton
May 10, 2016
Last Wednesday, Aron Jaffe, a sophomore miler for Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., was in the stands at Fairfax High School as his team wrapped up a quad meet against Fairfax, Langley and South Lakes (Alan Webb‘s alma mater). The second heat of the girls’ 4×100 relay had just begun when the crowd quickly drew Aron’s attention to the spectacle unfolding on the track.
“I saw them coming down the (track) and I really wasn’t paying attention,” Aron said. “And then everyone was like ‘Oh my God, look!’ So I look up and I see them coming down the (backstrech) with a high jump pole in their hands.”
Aron grabbed his phone, started recording and…well, you can watch what happened below.
LMFAO THEY USED A POLE INSTEAD OF A BATON pic.twitter.com/OH9Em7aLvE
— Aron Jaffe (@aronrjaffe) May 4, 2016
As of Tuesday morning, the video has been retweeted more than 1,500 times and has garnered over 2,000 likes. Not bad for the B heat of a girls’ 4×100 at a local quad meet.
So what exactly was going on?
First, let’s set the record straight: that was a high jump bar that the team in the outside lane was passing, not a javelin or pole vault pole.
So where did the team in question, Fairfax HS, get the idea to pass a high jump bar?
“It was actually Senior Night and we wanted to do something fun and just have a blast that night,” said Te’Ona Witherspoon, a senior on the Fairfax track team. “And we were just like, ‘What’s something different that other teams don’t really do?’ And we were like, ‘Let’s run a 4×1 with a pole.’
“It was kind of a collective [decision]. Me and my friend Nyah, she was the second leg, and we’re kind of the jokesters on the team. We both kind of came up with the idea to have some fun.”
The squad was decided: Te’Ona would run leadoff, Nyah Sims would run second, Sammi Soter third and Erin Hopkins would anchor. They didn’t run it by any officials, assuming that someone would let them know if something was out of order.
No one expected Fairfax to actually win. Though Te’Ona and Erin are both members of the Fairfax 4×100 team that qualified for states, they had essentially no recovery before this race as they had both run on a different 4×100 team in the first heat just moments before. And, you know, they were passing a high jump bar.
They didn’t practice handoffs beforehand and hopped in lane six on the outside to ensure they didn’t interfere with any of the other teams passing regular batons.
“It kind of just happened,” Te’Ona said. “Before we ran we were like, let’s just pass it off to one another. We’re not going to focus on how to pass it because it’s really, really long. Let’s just try and get it around in a circle.”
But even though Erin received the “baton” several meters behind on the final exchange, she sped down the home straight to win the race (the video posted to Twitter cut out before Erin reached the finish line, but Te’Ona confirmed that Fairfax won, though she was unsure of their time).
“The whole time I was running, I was just like ‘This is really, really fun,'” Te’Ona said. “I love my teammates. Everybody who was on the 4×1 team, we’re all really, really close. It was just fun. [I haven’t heard any] negative feedback.”
— Te'Ona (@TeOnaW) May 5, 2016
For those of you hoping that USA relay coach Dennis Mitchell, whose teams regularly fail to get the baton around the track in the 4 x 100, might be inspired by Fairfax’s totally secure handoffs and victory and start using a longer baton, don’t get your hopes up. IAAF rules mandate that the baton should be between .28 and .30 of a meter long.
That being said, if Team USA were able to run a race with a high jump bar like Fairfax, they might not be DQed as the IAAF rules indicate that “the Starter’s Assistants shall be responsible for the readiness of batons for the first athletes in a Relay Race.”
Talk about this amazing race on our world famous fan forum / message board: MB: HS Team Runs and Wins 4 x 100 Using a High Jump Bar For A Baton (amazing video).
Related: MB: FIRE DENNIS MITCHELL NOW
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