WEST LIBERTY Ten to one sound like fairly long odds, but that was not the case for the host Morgan County girls at Saturday’s Class A Region 7 Track and Field Championships. The 10-member team captured first place at the meet, despite competing all day in mid-80-degree heat.
Of course, it helps when one of the Lady Cougars is Krista Perry. The senior star and defending state champion in the 100-meter hurdles and runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles won all four of her events on Saturday, single-handedly scoring 40 of Morgan County’s 109 points.
“She won long jump (16’05.75”) right off the bat. She didn’t jump her seasonal best, but she said she was feeling good. Then she came back and won the 100(-meter) hurdles (14.67) and the 100(-meter dash in 12.94), and then of course then she won the 300(-meter) hurdles (47.23). She had a good day,” said Morgan County coach Charles Bolin. “We knew that she was ranked No. 1 (in the state) in all four of those (events).”
Although significant, Perry’s contributions were not the only ones that helped push Morgan County to the top of the podium. In fact, all 10 Lady Cougars (Abby Allen, Anna Cantrell, Heaven Carver, Shelby Carver, Brooklyn Kaufhold, Kara Kelly, Janesey Lewis, Arianne Morris, Abby McPherson and Perry) scored.
Junior Heaven Carver won the 200-meter dash (28.41), was second in the 100m (13.60), third in the 300m hurdles (53.43) and was part of the victorious 4x400-meter relay (4:50.53), which also included Lewis, Allen and Cantrell. Lewis added a runner-up finish in the triple jump (31’06.00”), with Allen accomplishing the same result in the pole vault (5’00”).
“The last two weeks I told the girls and some of the parents, I said we’ve got a great shot. I said (it’s) between us, Raceland and Bath County. I said if the girls show up and do what they are capable of doing, we can win it. I tried to get them to believe in that and they fought through today,” Bolin said. “I had several really I thought that out-performed what they’ve been doing the last few weeks. They really had a great day.”
It was a repeat title for Morgan County, which also won in 2019 and was second in both 2018 and 2017.
“We had one girl (Allen) that just started (to) pole vault just a few weeks ago … and she went from not ever jumping to she got second today at region,” Bolin said. “We had several come through today. Our girls’ 4x4(00m) really out-performed themselves. They were ranked third and they came out and won it. Heaven Carver was ranked third in the 100, behind Krista and another girl, and Heaven got second. So, that was a big surprise in the 100-meter dash. And then she came back and had a great race in the 200 and won it, and then she helped in the 4x4 to win it.”
Raceland, which finished third in 2019 after having captured the team trophy the previous five years, was second with 84.33 points. Pikeville claimed third with 75.33 points, followed by Bath County (56.33), West Carter (50), Prestonsburg (48), Menifee County (35), East Ridge (25), Paintsville (24), Shelby Valley (14), Phelps (12), Jenkins (10) and Betsy Layne (five). Elliot County, Piarist and Rose Hill Christian each had a handful of entries and did not score.
Pikeville also repeated as the boys’ winner, finishing Saturday’s competition with 156 points. As it did at the 2019 regional, Raceland took second on Saturday, scoring 94 points. The Rams won the meet each year from 2013-18.
“We kind of had a banged-up and patched-up group that came in here. So, I really wasn’t sure where we would finish, to be honest. I wasn’t sure that we’d even be a top-three team today,” said Raceland boys’ coach Randy Helton. “We’ve had some makeshift, bandaged-up relays the last two or three weeks and these guys came through for us. I mean to be honest, I’m very impressed that we finished in second. I’m really happy for our guys. I felt like it was a whole team effort.”
Prestonsburg was third with 77 points, followed by West Carter (60), Betsy Layne (56), East Ridge (52), Bath County (36), Morgan County (18) and Menifee County (six). With only a few representatives Elliott County, Rose Hill Christian, Jenkins, Paintsville and Shelby Valley did not score.
The Rams received significant contributions from senior Hunter Correll, who won both the shot put and the discus; and Will Nichols who claimed the title in the 110-meter hurdles (16.59), was third in the 300m hurdles (44.09), fourth in the high jump (5’08”) and fifth in the long jump (19’00.50”). Raceland’s 4x400m relay quartet of Grant Stephens, Cole Conlon, Jaxon Heighton and Brody Austin also finished atop of the field in a time of 3:48.60.
“We had some young guys step up in scoring areas. Garrison Stephens in the 3200 and his brother Grant Stephens in the 800 were big. And one guy, Ethan Melvin, who just had an appendectomy a week ago, we weren't even sure he that he was going to be cleared to throw and he scored twice in the shot and discus for us, and that was huge. Will Nichols, who has been a high-meet point guy for us all year (also came through), but it was a collective effort,” Helton said.
“Our mile relay, which was ranked second going in, had a ‘pr’ and actually won it. Will Nichols had a ‘pr’ in his 300-meter hurdles. Grant Stephens had a ‘pr’ in his 800,” Helton said. “We had several guys that stepped up and scored points that we weren’t counting on.”
Correll came into the meet with a goal of focusing on honing his technique, not worrying about his placing or distance.
“I was trying to work on my form a little more than just throwing it and I tried to be more technical. I was hoping I would do better, but people have those days where you are off and not get what you want. But overall, it felt like my form was a little bit better,” he said. “In shot I was trying for a ‘pr', but I would have been satisfied with around a (distance of) 45 (feet). I go into a meet with that mindset, trying to get a ‘pr’, be more explosive and trying to get my technique down, but it doesn't always work that way.”
“He’s been lights out all year. He set the school record at least three different occasions this year in the discus,” Helton said of Correll’s performance. “That guy, as well as all of our seniors, have been lights out. He’s got a great chance to score high at the state meet.”
Seventh-grader Sophie Maynard helped pace the Raceland girls by taking second in both the 100m hurdles (18.00) and the 300m hurdles (48.95), and also was fifth in the long jump (13’05.00”). Junior Makayla Clark won the high jump (4’08”) and placed fourth in both the long jump (13’10.00”) and the triple jump (29’06.00”). In addition, sophomore Sophie Hale won the pole vault (6’00”), with teammate Macie Webb in third (5’00”). The Lady Ram foursome of Webb, Olivia Porter, Shaylen Newman and Maynard won the 4x200-meter relay in 1:56.99.
In addition to Perry and Correll, Saturday’s multi-event winners included: Bath County’s Amelia Oldfield in the 400-meter dash (1:01.53) and the 800-meter run (2:29.58); West Carter’s Elizabeth Middleton in the 1600-meter run (5:58.49) and the 3200-meter run (13:22.30); Prestonsburg’s Brayden Slone in the 100m (11.21) and the 200m (23.80); and Pikeville’s Drew Hurley in the 1600m (4:45.11) and the 3200m (10:37.09).
Oldfield helped the Lady Cats qualify for state in the 4x400m relay by passing Raceland in the home stretch to finish second.
“One-hundred and 50 meters to go, I was like I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can catch up to her, but I was like I might as well try. I really didn’t think I could (catch her). I didn’t think I could until I got around the last curve and then I was like maybe I can get her. Just leave everything out there,” she said. “I’m just happy, because now we get to run that relay one more time at state because three of the four girls, including me, on our 4x4 team are seniors. So, it's like our last chance to race together at state. So, I’m really glad that we qualified by getting second.”
In 2019, Oldfield finished in second in the 200m and 400m, third in the 100m and was part of the runner-up 4x400m relay team. On Saturday, in addition to winning her two individual events and helping the 4x400m relay team to place second (4:50.53), she finished third in the long jump (14’00.50”).
“I was hoping to ‘pr’ today and I didn’t get any ‘pr’s, but I was close in all four of my events so I'm still happy with my times,” she said. “I’m especially happy with the 4x4, because that’s more of a team. It wasn’t just for me; it was for my team.”
Other individual event winners included: Paintsville’s Bethany Tackett in the shot put (28’02.00”), Menifee County’s Taylor Parks in the triple jump (31’10.75”), East Ridge’s Pamela Gommels in the discus (85’02”); West Carter’s Kaden Wilson in the 400m (52.03) and Trace Harper in the 300m hurdles (43.30); Pikeville’s Jason Lin in the 800m (2:07.79) and Zac Lockhart in the long jump (21’04.50”); Prestonsburg’s Kaleb Jarvis in the triple jump (40’00.75”); Betsy Layne’s Davey Bentley in the high jump (6’02”) and Bath County’s Judah Hill in the pole vault (9’06”).
Wilson helped both the Comet 4x100m (that also included Leetavious Cline, Gage Leadingham and Harper in 45.66) and the 4x200m (along with Cline, Leadingham and Connor Greene in 1:34.58) relay teams qualify for state by placing second, in addition to finishing third in the 200m (24.19). According to Wilson, the latter relay fell just shy of setting a new school record.
“I feel like I had a really good day. I was glad that I could make sure I qualified for three events at state. Hopefully, I’ll get in for that 200 on my time. But I think it was a really good day. It’s hot out here, but I still feel like I ran well,” he said. “The 400, I felt like I was at around 51.5 (seconds). I didn’t get that, but I was still trying to save a little bit of energy, because I knew there were two good 200 runners and I was trying to beat (Pikeville’s) Zac (Lockhart).”
In the relays, Prestonsburg’s boys won both the 4x100-meter (Eric Armstrong, Preston Crase, Grant Justice and Slone in 45.49) and 4x200m (Armstrong, Taylor Ousley, Crase and Slone in 1:34.03) events, with Pikeville (Carter Hurley, Drew Hurley, Rylan Keathley and Lin) claiming the 4x800-meter race in 8:56.71. Four different schools captured girls’ relay titles: West Carter (Alexis Bond, Keyera Reynolds, Destiny Davis and Middleton) in the 4x800m in 11:22.06, Pikeville (Mattie Crum, Emma Ratliff, Ava Rogers and Kylie Hall) in the 4x100m in 55.44 as well as Raceland in the 4x200m and Morgan County in the 4x400m.
West Carter’s AJ Butler also won two events in the unified competition, paring with Trace Harper in the 2x50-meter relay (23.36) and Preston Nauman in the shot put (59’05.00”).
The top two finishers in each event and the next 10 best overall performances across the KHSAA’s seven regions earn a bid to the state meet. Among the area schools who participated in Saturday’s regional: Bath County, Menifee County, Morgan County, Paintsville, Raceland and West Carter had at least one athlete automatically qualify. Others will await their fates until the list of all 24 entrants in each event are released.
The KHSAA’s Class A State Championships take place on Thursday in Lexington at the University of Kentucky’s Outdoor Track and Field Complex. Competition begins at 10 a.m.