Sophomore Brentsville track star on her way to nationals
Over the last 67 years, Brentsville District High School's cross country teams have racked up 13 state championships. For that same time frame, however, there are no national championships listed on the track banner in the gym. That statistic may change this year with the help of a sophomore.

Danyelle Kent Robinson is a very soft-spoken, quiet girl, Brentsville track coach Rob Dulin said. While Robinson is also cool-headed and calm under pressure, the 16-year-old sophomore can erupt on the track.

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On Jan. 13 at the Fork Union Military Academy Invitational, Robinson leaped an astounding 5 feet, 6 inches in the high jump. Not only did she crush the minimum she needed to qualify for states, 4 feet, 10 inches, but she earned an invitation to the Indoor National Championship in Landover, Md. on March 10 and 11 to compete for the national title.

She's a raw talent, Dulin said. She's going to be something else before it's all said and done.

Robinson's Maryland invite almost did not happen. She said her back hit the measuring bar during her first leap because she was a little scared. And when her coach asked her to try a different technique, the second jump wasn't much better than the first.

For her third and final attempt, Robinson jogged for half the paces, hit it into high gear for the last three steps, threw herself head first over the bar and glided onto the mat, clearing the 5 ½-foot high bar.

I actually was surprised, Robinson said of her jump, adding that it was due mostly to Dulin's different approach. Along with winning the high jump, she won two other events and earned performer of the meet honors, beating out athletes from 34 other teams. To Dulin, her performance was something special.

You usually don't see dominate high jumpers in their freshman or sophomore years, the coach said. Robinson is an exception to that rule: last June in Harrisonburg, she became a state champion in outdoor track.

The Bristow resident said she's been interested in track since sixth grade, when she'd head out to the track and teach herself how to run and leap. Her father used to play basketball and football and her mother danced and swam, so being physically active and competitive was nothing new to her family.

And the competitiveness isn't limited to track, either. Robinson plays for the Brentsville junior varsity girls basketball team and is an honor roll student.

Brentsville has one more regular season match, Jan. 31 in Haymarket against rival Battlefield, before districts on Feb. 9 at Hagerstown Community College. Regional competition will be Feb. 21 back at Fork Union before the Tigers head to states on March 2 in Lynchburg at Liberty University.