In May of last year, the Loudoun Valley boys -- featuring all four members of the national high school indoor record-setting group from NBNI just a few months previously -- had aspirations of breaking the national outdoor and state record in the distance medley relay at The Dogwood Track Classic at the University of Virginia.
That, they came just short of, finishing in 10:03.00, a US No. 2 effort on the season.
But in a lot of ways, this was one of the team's most memorable relays of the season.
Because it was the final swan song for this group at the high school level, as the team would not pursue a national record at New Balance Nationals Outdoor the following month.
So they were left with perspective following their final performance, and a chance to evaluate their legacy. For many, there was no doubt that this team, and this group of Vikings, were one of the top teams ever assembled in Virginia -- rivaling only South Lakes during the era of Alan Webb.
In 2018, the Vikings finished third in the DMR at NBNI, only to redeem themselves the following season with that school and national record of 9:54.41. Three athletes on this relay were also part of the two-time defending Nike Cross Nationals champions in 2018 and 2019, making the significance of their performances all the more special.
Yet again, the recipe for success on this day was a healthy balance from all four athletes. Hunter, running on his future home track, opened with a consistent effort at 1,200m before the stage followed with Simms.
It would then go to Wells before the final hand-off was given to Affolder, who grinded through the final two laps to secure Loudoun Valley's overall effort as one of the country's best performances in the DMR that season.
- Jacob Hunter: 1,200m, 3:02
- Akere Simms: 400m, 51.5
- Connor Wells: 800m, 1:55
- Sam Affolder: 1,600m: 4:17
Dogwood Track Classic Boys DMR Results
BOYS DISTANCE MEDLEY RELAY FINALS PLACE TEAM RESULT H# 1 Loudoun Valley 10:03.00 1 2 Christiansburg 10:13.70 1 3 Western Albemarle 10:18.46 1 4 Deep Run 10:32.79 1 5 Washington Latin Public Charter HS 10:39.72 1 6 Fort Defiance 10:41.20 1 7 Gonzaga College High School 10:46.30 1 8 Albemarle 10:46.53 1
Retrospective: A year later, three members of this relay have settled into college and two have even secured performances of their own at the NCAA Division I level. Wells, a first-year at Georgetown University, produced indoor seasons bests of 4:16.84 in the mile and 8:26.67 in the 3K. He also competed in cross country for the Hoyas over the fall. Hunter, meanwhile, got his feet wet over indoors, posting a best of 4:18.18 in the mile, while also competing at the ACC Indoor Championships. Affolder redshirted at Washington.