Raceland’s track and field program doesn’t even have its own track.
Boyd County’s boys finished 10th at last spring’s region meet.
But both genders’ varsity programs at both schools set aside such obstacles with outstanding seasons this spring, and their coaches garnered All-Area Coach of the Year notice.
On the boys side, Raceland coach Randy Helton and Boyd County’s Chris Holbrook shared Coach of the Year recognition. Raceland coach Ray Kilgore gained girls honors.
Helton’s Rams won the Class A, Region 7 meet in runaway fashion, and Kilgore’s girls claimed their first region title since 2000.
Holbrook, a first-year coach, piloted both the Boyd County boys and girls programs. The Lady Lions finished second in the Class 2A, Region 6 meet, and the Lions boys were third, winning five meets over the course of the season.
Athletes of the Year are Fairview’s Morgan McIntyre, who won her fifth consecutive pole vault Class A state championship last month and set the all-time state record across all classes for that event, and Raceland’s Connor Messer, who claimed three events at state and had the season’s best mark in four events across the area.
Helton said Messer sometimes makes the remarkable look ordinary — such as when he scored 38 points at the Class A state meet, where the Rams finished sixth.
“Most of the people in the area who have seen (Messer) are kind of getting used to this, but people look at us like we’re crazy because we don’t show much reaction or emotion when he does this because we’re used to seeing it,” Helton said. “He had a phenomenal day at state, the kind of day that any kid would dream about.”
Boyd County’s proud programs had sunk somewhat in recent years, especially in boys competition. But Holbrook said increased participation helped revive the Lions.
“I would have liked to win the region, but it is what it is. We made strides,” Holbrook said. “We’ve got a good foundation now, and we’re looking forward to next year, girls especially. We’ve got so many coming back.
“We went out and got 40 girls and 40-some boys, and when you can pick and choose from that many kids, you can find a way to be successful.”
Holbrook said the plan to build upon the program is to “just continue” doing what they are.
“A lot of them are coming back, and they’re ready,” he said of his performers. “They now know what it takes to be competitive on the region level. They know what it takes to compete on a state level, and they’re fired up about it, too. The success has helped them.
“It’s contagious. When you have a little bit of success, they start seeing it and feeling it and wanting to do better, so I’m pretty excited about next season.”
Raceland’s boys won their second straight region title — which, as far as Helton knows, the program had never done.
“We felt like we had the talent to do it, but we knew it was gonna be tough, and the kids basically stepped up,” Helton said. “We didn’t win any meets all year (until the region), because Boyd was really strong. We were right there in every meet, though. That’s why we were pretty encouraged, because we were within three, five points every meet of the bigger teams.”
Now, the community is preparing to try to make it three region titles in a row.
“Of course, Coach Hoof (longtime Raceland multi-sport coach Randy Vanderhoof) already put the onus on us by telling me ‘three-peat’ as soon as I came into school the next Monday,” Helton said, laughing.
Raceland’s girls ended a long drought without a region title under Kilgore, the 16th-year coach who was also All-Area Coach of the Year last spring.
The Lady Rams won eight meets this season, but that wasn’t what stood out most to their coach.
“It was just fantastic to have a team that was so close-knit,” Kilgore said. “Everybody, I don’t care if it was a 2-miler or 100-meter or pole-vaulter, the girls were a very close-knit team.
“From my seniors on down to my seventh-graders, they all performed. They were just a great team, and we have a lot coming back next year.”
All-Area selections were made based upon the top finishes in each event over the course of the season up to the region meets. Rowan County’s boys had the most selections, with six — Shelley DeHarte in the 1600-meter run, Isaac Lee in the 300-meter hurdles, Nathan Hanshaw in the shot put and discus throw, the 4-by-400-meter relay team, and Laney Stone, who shared top high-jump honors with Messer.
Ashland earned five selections: Quinton Baker in the 100 and 200, Jake Long in the long jump, and 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
East Carter took two boys All-Area selections: its 4x800 team and Ben Napier in the 800. Lewis County and Russell had one apiece — the Lions’ Tanner Barton in the 400 and the Red Devils’ Josh Riley in the 3200. Barton was a state champion in the 400.
Raceland, Ashland and Fairview each had three girls’ All-Area selections, tying for the high.
For the Lady Rams, it was Makenzi Speaks in the high jump, Abby Jones in the 100 and their 4x800 relay. Ashland’s Kaylee Robinson won 200 honors, along with the Kittens’ 4x100 and 4x200 teams. For the Lady Eagles, Katie Richard garnered triple-jump recognition, McIntyre won pole-vault honors and the 4x400 relay finished tops.
For Boyd County, Brittany Jarrell claimed the top 400 and Courtney Gibson took the 800.
Rose Hill Christian, Morgan County and Russell all had an athlete win two individual events.
The Lady Royals’ Olivia Kee got 100 and 300 hurdles honors, the Lady Devils’ Kara Coldiron claimed 1600 and 3200 selections, and the Lady Cougars’ Jessica Davis had the top throws in both shot put and discus.
Johnson Central’s Paige McPeek posted the top girls high jump in the area.
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.
Raceland’s track and field program doesn’t even have its own track.
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