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Track Notepad: Ficenec, Waller seek better runs at states

Two Fredericksburg-area track and field standouts will look to rebound in the state meets on Saturday after rare setbacks last week.

Mountain View senior Kimberley Ficenec placed second in the 800-meter run at the Northwest Region meet. Ficenec was edged by Battlefield’s sophomore Grove Ellison.

Ficenec entered the meet with a personal-best time that was nearly six seconds faster than Ellison’s. But the University of Alabama-bound Ficenec has been battling illness the past couple of weeks, Wildcats coach Dave Davis said.

“She had lost 5–10 pounds the week before,” Davis said of Ficenec. “But she got beat. It happens. You can’t complain about it. That’s why it’s track and field. You can’t put anybody else in.”

Still, Ficenec was beaten by a minuscule margin. She finished the race in 2:16.90. Ellison’s time was 2:16.83.

Davis said he’s going to lessen Ficenec’s workload for the Group AAA state meet on Saturday at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond. She won’t compete in the 400 or 1,600 meters even though she won the regional title in the latter event last week. Instead she’ll focus on the 800 meters and the 1,600 relay.

Ficenec, who won the New Balance Nationals in the 800 last June, wasn’t the only area standout to trip in the event last week.

Chancellor senior Michael Waller is the two-time Group AA state champion in the 800. Waller entered the Region I meet with the fastest 800 time in the state but finished second to New Kent’s Austin Savage (1:55.68).

Waller (1:56.06 in regionals) has some experience responding to adversity. He placed second in the region in 2011, but bounced back the following week to win his second state title and achieve a personal-best time. The Group AA meet is Saturday at Harrisonburg High School.

—Taft Cohgill Jr.