Charlotte Robinson joined the St. Catherine’s track and field team in 2019-2020 with little experience in the sport. The shutdown triggered by the pandemic months later cut off her development just as she was figuring out her role with the Saints.
By the time the Saints were back in action, Robinson emerged a “completely different person,” according to coach Derrhyl Duncan. She religiously worked on her craft in hopes of improving, and it’s that dedication that helped her team reach the top once again.
Robinson won three events, and St. Catherine’s reclaimed the VISAA girls indoor track and field title at St. Christopher’s on Saturday. The Saints scored 138 points to defeat Collegiate (90), which won last year’s state meet in the outdoor season.
The state trophy was the first as a head coach for Duncan, who previously was a sprint and jumps coach at St. Catherine’s.
“Everyone was ecstatic,” Duncan said. “There were lots of tears of joy.”
It wasn’t an easy rise to the top for Duncan and the Saints, who have been the team to beat in the LIS and VISAA over the past few years. The team had lost some star contributors over the past couple years, and much of the team was young and detached from the state titles from 2020 and earlier.
“It was strange trying to defend a championship that most people either weren’t there for or didn’t really remember. Our team has changed a lot,” Duncan said. There wasn’t a VISAA indoor meet last season because of the pandemic. “... We had a lot of seasons of being undefeated in the regular season and this season wasn’t like that. It took us a while to find our bearings.”
Despite some inexperience, Duncan was confident his girls would find their stride. His confidence was rewarded at the LIS meet, with many Saints improving on their previous bests from the season en route to a championship.
Robinson, who recently committed to William & Mary, contributed in a lot of areas at that meet before putting it all together at the state meet. The senior won the 300-meter dash (42.37), long jump (16 feet, 11 inches) and triple jump (34 feet), each with slim margins of victory. She was also fourth in the 55-meter dash and anchored the second-place 4x200-meter relay.
Her work ethic, particularly when track was put on hold, was emblematic of her leading by example, according to Duncan, and it played a major part in the Saints capping off their season the way they did.
“She went with someone with potential to a key contributor all on her own,” Duncan said. “She’s the type of person who really holds onto different things you tell her, different lessons. And she keeps working on things meticulously until she gets them down. …
“She’s a great athlete, and we’re very lucky to have her.”
Hampton Turton led a handful of junior contributors for St. Catherine’s. Turton sprinted to a title in the 500 meters (1:18.52) and followed Robinson in the 300 for second place. The Saints also won the 4x800-meter and 4x400-meter relays, both of which were led by senior Guin Buono.
Robinson and Turton split MVP honors for the meet.
“For me, it was a sense of pride for the team, knowing how hard they worked and how much it meant to them,” Duncan said.
Woodberry Forest ran away with the boys championship, racking up 202 points. Collegiate was second (64), Fork Union Military Academy was third (52.5) and St. Christopher’s was fourth (50.5).