Phoenix Athletes Rock Winter Championships

Throughout the month of February, several Phoenix athletes from gymnastics, track and field, wrestling, and swimming competed in numerous championship events for the 2023 winter sports season.


Iyush Hoysal via Creazilla

As the 2022-2023 winter came to a close, teams across the state of Virginia competed for fame, glory, and titles.

Iyush Hoysal and Hylay Assefa

Throughout the month of February, various athletic teams representing Rock Ridge competed across the state of Virginia in postseason contests. From the track and field team who traveled to Liberty University for their state meet, to the Phoenix wrestling team who competed at Virginia Beach for their state conference, these athletes made sure to give it their all.

Track and Field

On Feb. 13, the Phoenix track and field team competed at the regional meet at Shenandoah University. Athletes competed in numerous events such as the 4×800 relay race, the 55 meter dash, 4x200m relay race, and the shot put. 

Season and personal bests across the board only boosted team morale. A school record was broken by senior Kamaal Reel running the 55 meter dash in 6.66 seconds and placing third overall in the event. The meet opened with  a 4×800 relay, and the Phoenix qualifying team consisted of senior Jett Cooper, senior Paul Skeen, senior Iyush Hoyal, and junior Adrian Mata. There are two 4×200 teams, one boys team and one girls team. The boys 4×200 team included junior Teyany Kleiner, sophomore Julian Ogletree, senior Kamaal Reel, and junior Asi Temoka, who were the region runners-up in the event. The other 4×200 team included sophomore Micah Younger, freshman Zoe Fyne-Okorie, freshman Kyra Young, and sophomore Lilia Jones, who placed third in their relay race. 

Others who competed at regionals included Alyssa Tucker in the 55m hurdles, freshman Khem Temoka in the 500m dash, senior Paul Skeen in the 1000m dash, freshman Kyra Young in the 300m dash, sophomore Julian Ogletree, junior TeYany Kleiner, and senior Kamaal Reel in the 300m dash.

However, even with the victory at the regional meet, athletes are getting ready for a lot of physical and mental training to be done before spring track. “I think my weakness is getting stuck in my head about stuff before a race,” sophomore Lilia Jones said. “My goal is to set a personal record officially so I can break the school record again.”

The athletes who qualified for the state meet were senior Kammal Reel, junior Asi Temoka, and sophomore Lilia Jones in the 55 meter dash; senior Ainhoa Johnson Diaz in the 1000 meter dash; sophomore Julian Ogletree in the 300m dash; junior Asi Temoka in both the long and high jump; junior Teyany Kleiner, sophomore Julian Ogletree, senior Kamaal Reel, and junior Asi Temoka for the boys 4x200m dash; and sophomore Micah Younger, freshman Zoe Fyne-Okorie, freshman Kyra Young, and sophomore Lilia Jones for the girls 4x200m dash. 

During the state meet held on Feb. 28, the girls 4×200 relay team placed ninth at the state championships and set a new personal best. The boys 4×200 relay team placed fourth place overall and earned a medal at the state championships. Sophomore Lilia Jones got sixth overall in the 55m dash and set a new school record of 7.33 seconds. “It was a really energetic meet to be a part of,”  senior Johnson Diaz said. “A lot of new records were broken even with the stale air inside, which made it difficult to breathe while running.”


On Feb. 11, select members from the Phoenix wrestling team competed at the regional meet at Independence High School. Athletes who competed at regionals included senior James Lee, senior Illias Cholakis, senior Seth Cougar, freshman Julian Serna, and freshman Nathan Martinez. 

There were a multitude of victories, from senior Ilias Cholakis getting his 100th win and becoming the fifth wrestler in Rock Ridge history to perform that feat, to senior Seth Cougar qualifying for the state meet by winning the regional tournament in the “heavyweight” weight class and taking home a first place medal. 

Cholakis placed second at the regional meet in his weight class of 215 pounds, and was able to qualify for the state championship. “Regionals was really fun, and it had an energy that no other tournaments throughout the season had,” Lee said. “Post season tournaments are full of heartbreak for seniors who didn’t make it to states, but it is also a place where young wrestlers can make a name for themselves.”

At the wrestling state meet, which was held at Virginia Beach on Feb. 17 through Feb. 18, senior Illias Cholakis competed against dozens of impressive athletes, and ultimately placed fourth in his weight class of 215 pounds. 


On Feb. 18, select members of the swim team competed at states. Participating athletes included sophomore Andrew Takach, senior Morgan Fowle, sophomore Neel Chethan, sophomore Nikhil Midda, freshman Oliver Cabezas, and senior Jeet Metu. They all swam both relays and made it to the final. 

Along with swimming both relays, Takach swam the 200m individual medley and the 100m breaststroke, placing 10th in both. Fowle swam the 50m freestyle and made it to the final in the 100m freestyle. Phoenix swimmers swam a multitude of strokes in states, with the most popular event being the 200m freestyle, which was swam by Metu and Chethan. “Making it to states felt amazing and was my biggest achievement,” Takach said.


On Feb. 17 and 18, the Phoenix gymnastics team traveled to Lightridge High School to compete in the State meet. Junior Thandi Hart represented the Phoenix team by competing in numerous events, such as the Uneven Bars and Floor Exercise. Overall, Hart placed fifth in the uneven bars category, tied for ninth in the floor exercise with a score of 8.950, and placed sixth in the individual all-around category with a score of 36.125.