Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

May 11, 2013

Pair of Rams pick Pikeville

RACELAND — Three years ago, Raceland senior Cole Thomas uttered the question, “What is shot put?”

Next weekend, he’ll be shooting for the state title in that event.

Thomas played an important role in convincing lifelong friend John Valencourt to run track two years ago. After some hesitation, Valencourt suited up and eventually ran to a regional title in the 400 run as a junior.

On Friday, two of Raceland’s top track and field talents signed letters of intent to be future University of Pikeville athletes.

With quite the contrast in appearance — Thomas is 6-foot-6, 340 pounds; Valencourt is 5-11, 155 — they wouldn’t have their college destination work out any other way. And, yes, they’ll be roommates.

“We went to school together since day care,” Valencourt said. “From day care to college, I guess. It’s crazy.”

Pikeville men’s track coach John Biery approached both Thomas and Valencourt during the Area 7 Track and Field Championships last Saturday at Ashland Blazer High School.

Two days later, they took a campus visit. Four days after that, they solidified their college choice with a few strikes of a pen inside Raceland-Worthington High School’s library.

“It kind of came out of nowhere,” Valencourt said. “I couldn’t be happier for either one of us. I know both of us are going to succeed because we want this.”

Valencourt and Thomas will compete today in the Class A Region 7 Meet at Rowan County Senior High School. The Rams should contend for the team title.

Valencourt’s health is just now returning to 100 percent after he suffered an ACL/meniscus injury during his senior football season. While the recovery was tough at times, the process did inspire him to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Having only participated in four meets this season, Valencourt has steadily improved his numbers each time. His goal is to finish 400 meters in fewer than 53 seconds, as he did last season when he competed in three State Meet events.

 Thomas placed 16th in the shot put as a sophomore at the State Meet, and then came in seventh a year ago. He said that he and his closest competition this season are separated by mere inches.

Pretty impressive results considering he had no clue what he was getting into three years ago.

“(Former Raceland football and track athlete) Brian Caudill came up to me and asked if I wanted to throw shot put,” Thomas remembered. “I was like, what is shot put? I was pretty good from the get-go.”

His personal bests are 48 feet, 6 1/2 inches in shot put and 86 feet in the discus throw. He will try hammer throw at Pikeville.

Thomas got back into football after a few years off, but mainly as a place kicker last season.

Track and field is more his thing, made evident by Friday’s signing.

“It’s really exciting to know that I’m getting a chance for the next chapter in my life along with one of my good friends,” said Thomas, who plans to major in business.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at

asnyder@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2664.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0718spinda.jpg Steelers super fan Spinda to be recognized in Florida

    Shawn Spinda doesn’t have to use speech to profess his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    All it takes is a quick glance for a person to get the picture.
    But to absorb the whole picture, you’ll need to clear your schedule.
    Spinda is one of several fanatics who will be recognized at the Sports Fans Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. He is a “What a Fan” NFL Fan of the Year nominee.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703rfLL0204.jpg Little League State Baseball: Ready to run

    Morehead 11- and 12-year-old All-Star baseball manager Toby Gardner collectively likened his team to a racehorse.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0717prokick1.jpg Prokicker.com camp Eleven Ashland Tomcat football players were part of the Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp at Huntington High. The high-profile camps are put on all over the country. Rick Sang, an Ashland native who befriended Guy 20 years ago, is the camp's founder.

    July 16, 2014

  • 0716fbpractice0105.jpg Four-down territory: Making summer football practice pit stops

    ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
    The popular Monday night catchphrase filled my room on Tuesday morning as my new alarm sounded off at 7 a.m.

    July 16, 2014 5 Photos