Rowan County boys track coach Roy Wright has been on the losing side of regional meets.
He likes the winning side much better. The latest was Saturday's Class 2A, Region 6 team title on the Vikings' home oval, a 156-154.5 squeaker over Mason County.
Rowan County won its third straight regional crown. Wright talked about two things: how he appreciates Saturday partly because of a three-point loss to Mason County in 2010; and getting 18 long jump points from senior Jalen Stone and his brother, junior Laney Stone.
Yet Wright's heart was a little heavy because of a third Viking, junior hurdler Isaac Lee, who collapsed after pulling the hamstring in his left leg midway through the 300-meter hurdles. Lee had just cleared the third when he clutched his left leg and fell.
“I didn't see it happen,” Wright said. “I turned to look for him, and he was down. I hate it for him; he works so hard.”
Lee, who earlier won the 110 hurdles, was on crutches about an hour after the 300.
“I was leading,” Lee said. “I cleared (the hurdle), I pulled my (left) trail leg. It started popping. I tried taking a few steps. I just couldn't do it.”
The Royals and Vikings staged what was effectively a two-team duel.
It started with the 800-meter relay, when Rowan County senior Chris Baker ran down Mason County's Jalen Jones over the final 50 meters.
“I was five meters behind,” Baker said. “It was a good handoff (from Zack Kelsey).”
Mason County exacted revenge in the 400 relay, when Jacob Tompkins passed Baker for the win.
“We were ahead at the (third) handoff,” Tompkins said. “I just knew we couldn't lose it.”
Mason County beat East Carter in the the distance relays — the Royals won by just over two seconds in the 3,200 and by nearly eight in the 1,600.
In the individual races, Mason County's Nick Robinson beat Rowan County's Shelley Deharte by just under two seconds in the 1,600. Deharte rebounded in the 3,200 with a nine-second win over Russell's Josh Riley.
Rowan County “Stoned” Mason County in two other jumps. Jalen took the triple jump by five feet over Mason County's Alex Stahl, and Laney was four inches higher than the Royals' Steven Chambers in the high jump.
The Vikings held an 86-84 lead through nine events, but Mason County went ahead, 96-86, after the Royals' Shawn Johnson and Cory Childers picked up 12 points by taking second and fourth in the 400 dash.
There have been unsubstantiated rumors of Mason County moving next year to a region with Northern Kentucky powers Saint Henry, Walton-Verona, Scott and Highlands. If that happens, the Lady Royals are leaving a string of successes here — Saturday's 169-114 win over Fleming County was their fifth straight team crown.
“It's a testament to the hard work that the kids are willing to put in,” Mason County coach Mark Kachler said. “It's a great accomplishment. (Region 6) is a very challenging region; to be able to (win) that many years consecutively is an honor, and all the credit goes to the kids, really.”
Here's how dominant Mason County was in the running events: Lady Royals finished first, second and/or third in all but one race, the 300 hurdles, where eighth-grader Whitney O'Mara was fourth. Another eighth-grader, Rheagan Sizemore, won the 1,600 and 3,200.
In the field events, Mason County senior Julia Woods won the pole vault by a foot over senior teammate Raylee Kirkland.
As for the Northern Kentucky realignment talk?
“We have to compete wherever (the Kentucky High School Athletic Association tells) us we have to compete, and that's a very tough place to go and compete,” Kachler said. “We'll embrace the challenge if that's what it is and do the best we can.”
Boyd County senior Jessica Adams is one meet away from finishing her high school career, while Ashland freshman Quinton Baker is just starting. Saturday, they combined to take all four sprints.
Adams won the 100 in 13.47 seconds and the 200 in 27.33. Baker took the 100 title in 11.40 and the 200 in 22.82.
Baker has watched Adams, and he's properly impressed. “She's a great athlete,” he said. “I can tell she works hard. We just went out and tried our best.”
Adams has been a one-girl regional sprint dynasty: counting Saturday's wins, she has 10 (four 100s, four 200s and two 400s). As the last races at next week's state meet loom, she thought yesterday was “bittersweet.”
“I'm excited that I had so many good years, but I'm sad it's coming to an end,” Adams said. “(Baker) is definitely a great athlete, and he's a freshman. I can't wait to see what he does senior year.”
East Carter junior Dustin Sexton is adding gold medals to his nascent trophy case.
Earlier this year, he took the regional title in the inaugural archery event. Saturday, he claimed the 300 hurdles in 43.63 — his first individual track win.
Sexton couldn't decide whether shooting arrows or jumping over hurdles was his favorite sport.
“I love them both equally,” Sexton said. “I'm really, really happy about (winning the hurdles). I haven't run hurdles in a while. This is regionals; I wanted to do it again.”
Rowan County boys track coach Roy Wright has been on the losing side of regional meets.
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VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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