Rowan County’s Promise Cross competes in the long jump at the Area 7 Track Meet on Friday. (Photo by John Flavell)

MOREHEAD – Friday was as much a Cross family reunion as a track meet.

Rowan County junior Promise Cross was unstoppable in the Area 7 meet on Friday on Cross’ home track. The defending Class 2A high jump champion won that event with a 5 feet, 6 inch leap.

Cross also won the triple jump in 32-7, the 300-meter hurdles in 46.89 seconds and the long jump in 16-5.

A large contingent of Cross’ family saw all of it, and they were in a celebratory mood all day because they watched her sister, Desiree Cross, graduate from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Broadcast Journalism.

There were her parents, Darrell Cross Sr. and Katina Solis; brothers Darrell Jr. (a former Viking football, basketball and track athlete), Christopher and Cameron and sister Faith; Promise’s grandfather, Oscar Cross; Oscar’s sons David, Guy and Glenn; a nephew, Ace William; Darrell Jr.’s girlfriend, Madison Wyatt; Whitney Watercutter, Darrell Sr.’s girlfriend; and a cousin, Daniel Skelton.

Of the wins, triple jump may have been the most noteworthy because Cross has been doing it for just three weeks.

“I have three events, the long (jump), the high (jump) and the 300-meter hurdles,” she said. “My coach (Shawn Thacker) told me, ‘you can try whichever event you wanted.’ … My first jump, I broke the school record (she says it’s either 34 feet, 8 or 9 inches), so I figured I’d stick with it.”

Promise calls Darrell Jr. “my self-motivation.” She said she really needed his input before Rowan County’s 61st District Tournament basketball final last February, a 62-55 overtime loss to Menifee County in which she scored just five points but grabbed 12 rebounds.

“I was really, really so nervous,” she says. “I texted him before the game … I waited for a response, and I never got a text back.

“But then, a little bit before the game I get tons and paragraphs telling me I can do this.”

Friday, Cross did everything well. She edged Morgan County’s Krista Perry by about a half-second in the 300 hurdles, leaped nearly two feet farther than teammate Kaitlyn McKenzie in the long jump, went nearly the same distance past Ashland’s Angelina Patel in the triple jump and was eight inches above East Carter’s Kaylee Lewis in high jump.

A final question was answered – which Cross was the better athlete, Promise or Darrell Jr.?

“Right now,” Glenn Cross said, “Promise is.”

Close to you After the meet, Russell coach Lee Evans and Ashland’s Kerri Thornburg stood about five feet apart near the press box waiting for their teams’ medals.

Their teams claimed titles by closer margins. Ashland’s girls squeaked past Mason County, 142.5-141.5, and the Russell boys were just a titch better than Ashland, 140.5139. Evans couldn’t say which event clinched the title.

“I knew it would be really close, I just didn’t know it how it would turn out,” Evans said. “Ashland scored some points I didn’t know they were gonna score. I think we got pushed back in some places.”

It could have come down to the 4x400 relay, the last running event. Russell edged Boyd County by just under two seconds.

“Had we finished second right there, we lose,” Evans said.

Russell’s Andrew Lykins dominated the horizontal jumps. His 19-5¼ was best in the long jump, and his 41-1 gave him gold in the triple jump.

With sprinter Keontae Pittman out, Thornburg has had to tweak the lineup, and Friday, it worked.

Sophomore Nana Amo-Mensah, normally a hurdler, tied for first in the 100 dash with West Carter’s Christian Rivers, beat Rivers outright in the 200, won the 400 and finished third in the long jump. Sophomore Jahveon Garrett finished first in the 300 hurdles.

And if tossing things was your thing, Ashland’s Ryan Bryant should’ve made you feel good. He won the shot put with a 50-10½ and the discus in a personal record 146-8.

Bryant says discus is more difficult.

“They’re both about solid technique,” he said. “Your arms have to be parallel at all times.”

Like Evans, Thornburg figured the girls team tussle would be close.

“Every point matters, every half-point matters,” Thornburg said. “I’m relieved for the girls; I was really hoping the boys would pull it out, too.”

If you talked about distance runs, you had to laud Ashland’s Rebekah Howard. She won the 1,600 (5:24.67) and 3,200 in 12:01.46.

Rowan County was third in the girls team standings with 110.5 points. Morgan County was fourth with 52, and Bath County was fifth with 49.

Boyd County’s boys were third with 96 points, followed by Montgomery County with 62 and Rowan County with 44.5.

Record-breakers Boyd County junior Tyler Conn was on his hands and knees after the 4x800 relay.

It was well worth the agony. Conn, Isaiah Caperton, Grant Chaffin and JB Terrill not only won the 4x800 relay over Russell by just over five seconds – their time of 8:41.21 set a school record by 73hundredths of a second.

“That’s what we’ve been working for pretty much all year,” Terrill said.

Terrill passed Russell’s Nate Sabotchick about 700 meters into the third leg.

Conn, the anchor runner, moved to Boyd County from Russell in December. He said he unleashed his kick earlier than usual, about 500 meters from the finish. More multiples Perry won the 100 dash in 13.15 seconds, the 200 dash in 27.71 and the 100 hurdles in 15.80. Perry said she “wasn’t feeling the best.” She didn’t know why but wasn’t worried.

“I’ve been to the doctor a few times,” she said. “I have to go back, I have to get blood work done next week and see.”

Bryant is already a champion – he won the state indoor shot put in a state-record 51-11, and his 53-9 last week is a school-best. Here’s what bothered him: he was “No, no, not at all” pleased at being runner- up in last year’s Class 2A shot put.

“I got second last year; I’m coming for first,” Bryant said.

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