May 15, 2012 — Led by four event winners, the Rowan County boys captured their second straight Class 2A Region 6 Track and Field Championships, and their third in the last four years, with a narrow victory over Mason County on Saturday at Ashland Blazer High School.
The Vikings defended their team title by scoring 149 points to edge the runner-up Royals, which finished with 132 points.
Rowan County’s overall performance earned the praise of Mason County coach Mark Kachler.
“I have no qualms with anything (our) boys did. They did everything they could, but sometimes someone is just better and Rowan was better. (Rowan County coach) Roy (Wright) lost several sprinters that he expected to have back this year. Hats off to him for recovering after all that he lost. That was a great coaching job for Roy.”
Given the team’s lack of depth in the sprints, Wright was surprised his club was able to pull out the victory. Midway through the season, the Vikings had virtually no one competing in those events.
“We exceeded my expectations with our point total. It was pretty close (with Mason County). (Kachler’s) kids really competed and so did ours. I am really proud of them. I told our kids to do their job and we’d be OK,” Wright said. “I am pretty excited and proud of the guys. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know if we’d be here because of the people we expected to have didn’t come out (for the team). But, I am really proud of the guys, because people really doubted them.”
The Vikings earned the title in large part because several team members stepped up and set personal records on Saturday.
“Our 4x2 was really impressive. They had a ‘pr’ by two seconds. We also got second in the discus with Nathan Hanshaw. He threw a 116’ and we wanted him to target 115’ and his ‘pr’ was 107’. Between he and Robert Estes that was 18 points in the discus right there and that was huge,” Wright said. “Isaac Lee got second in the 300 hurdles, but got a ‘pr’ and went under 42 seconds. Garet Fultz pr’d in the pole vault, Logan Ashley got a ‘pr’ in the 200, Ty Alderman got a ‘pr’ in the triple jump, Daniel Johnson got a ‘pr’ in the 800, Nick Hanshaw got a ‘pr’ in the discus, Jalen Stone got a ‘pr’ in the long jump, Chris Baker got a ‘pr’ in the 200, and we got a ‘pr’ in the 4x800 relay.”
Because of their performances on Saturday, 18 Vikings will advance on to Thursday’s Class 2A state championship in 16 events.
Arguably, the team’s top overall performer was Lee, who won the 110 hurdles, was second in the 300 hurdles, and ran the leadoff leg of both the winning 4x200-meter relay and the runner-up 4x200-meter relay.
Lee blistered the competition in the shorter hurdle event, capturing the title by eight-tenths of a second, and narrowly missing out on a second individual crown, by taking second in the longer event in 41.68,
Lee is seeded 12th in the 300m and 16th in the 110m in Thursday’s state races.
“I was a little disappointed about the 300, but I ‘pr’d and Cody Payne of Lawrence ran a great race. … I’ll try to get into the top five and maybe win,” Lee said. “The 110 went good. There was a lot of good competition and I just came out and did my thing. I’ve got to come out Thursday and do my best and break 16 in the 110 hurdles.”
Lee also led off the victorious 4x200m relay that included Zack Kelsey, Logan Ashley and Chris Baker. The quartet won the race in 1:33.61, with the same Viking foursome placing second in the 4x100m, covering the distance in 45.44.
Kelsey dominated in the pole vault, repeating as the regional champion, with a top height of 12’06” easily won the competition, good for a third seed at state.
Teammate Garet Fultz took fifth in the event with a leap of 9’06”, to also make state.
The Vikings also went one-two in the discus. Robert Estes won the competition with a throw of 131’04”, while Nathan Hanshaw took second with a mark of 116’06”. Senior Tyler Stewart finished eighth in the event with a mark of 34’03.50”.
Baker paced the Viking sprinters by taking second in the 100-meter dash in 11.58 and third in the 200-meter dash in 23.30. Ashley finished fifth in the shorter distance in 11.78 and ninth in the longer race in 23.89. Baker will compete in both events at the state meet.
Sophomore Shelley Deharte led the team in the distance races, placing second in the 3200-meter run in 10:47.81 and third in the 1600-meter run in 4:54.77. Deharte is seeded 20th in Thursday’s two-mile competition. Senior Tim Clayton narrowly missed qualifying for the state in both events, finishing third in the 3200m in 11:06.22 and fourth in the 1600m in 5:02.11.
Both Deharte and Clayton ran a leg of the third-place finishing 4x800-meter relay team that will advance on to the state meet. The foursome of Daniel Johnson, Clayton, Deharte and Josh Gilliam covered the distance in 8:47.12 on Saturday.
Individually, Johnson (2:09.43) and Gilliam (2:12.11) also placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 800-meter run.
Junior Jalen Stone impressed by finishing second in the triple jump with a leap of 40’07.00” and fifth in the long jump with a distance of 20’05.25” for a tenth and 13th seeding in state.
Ty Alderman also picked up points in the triple jump after leaping 38’01.00” to place fourth. In addition, Fultz claimed ninth in the long jump with a mark of 16’11.00”.
The Vikings will send two high jumpers to Louisville. Sophomores Alston Buttry and Laney Slone each cleared 5’10” on Saturday. Buttry took fourth and Slone fifth based on a tiebreaker.
T.J. Adkins added a point for Rowan County placing sixth in the 400-meter dash in 56.66. Jon Erni did the same in the 300m hurdles, while Chris Hall was seventh in the 110m hurdles.
Rowan County’s 4x400-meter relay team placed sixth in its race. The group of Adkins, Gilliam, Fultz and Johnson was clocked in 3:56.55.
Rowan County’s girls ended up tallying five points in the even, good enough for night on the day.
“We’ve done really well,” said first-year Lady Viking head coach Carla DeHart. “We’ve improved our times in all of our relays. We got fourth in the 4x2 (00-meter relay) and I am really excited about that. Out of 10 teams, for us to get fourth, I am really excited. We ‘pr’d in that and in the 4x1 (00-meter relay). (Overall) we are improving.”
The Lady Vikings scored in the 4x200m relay. The team of Rosemary Ibekwe, Desiree Cross, Sam Bradley and Karissa Henderson, was fourth in 2:02.06.
The 4x100m relay team of Morgan Cyrus, Cross, Henderson and Ibekwe placed sixth in its race in 58.12.
Individually, Cross placed seventh in the 100m in 14.60 and ninth in the 100-meter hurdles in 19.12. Cyrus finished eighth in the 300m hurdles in 56.80 and 14th in the 100m hurdles in 20.13. Ibekwe and Bradley earned top-10 finishes in the 800m. Ibekwe was ninth in 2:48.75 with Bradley right behind in 10th in 2:49.42.
The Lady Vikings also had a pair of competitors in the field events. Nakita Gibbs finished 11th in the discus with a toss of 49’03” and 13th in the shot put with a mark of 15’01”. Ana Percino was 12th in the shot put at 15’07” and 15th in the discus at 33’04”.
All three classes of the state meet will be held this week in Louisville. The Class AA championships held on Friday at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.