Twelve local athletes qualify for state

When Kentucky high school track squads make their way to the UK Track and Field Facility this weekend, members of both local squads will be making the trip.

Harlan County, in its first year back in Class 3A after being bumped back two 2A for a couple of years, will send three individual athletes and a dominant relay team.

Senior Alex Lewis ran a flawless 800-meter race at the Class 3A Region 7 meet Thursday at Madison Central to become the first athlete in program history to win a regional event in the state’s largest class, posting a time of 2:02.30.

“Alex ran one of the best races I’ve seen in my 27 years in this sport,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “He had a lot of confidence coming into the meet and ran an absolute beast of a race. He’s grown up in this sport and deserves a moment like this.”

Senior Jake Bush also qualified for the second consecutive year in the shot put, placing fifth in the region with a throw of 41 feet, 6 inches, good enough to earn one of the 10 at-large bids given to the best non-qualifying performances around the state (the top two in each region automatically qualify).

“Jake has really turned it around the second half of the season. He’s been throwing really well the last few weeks, and I’m glad he’ll get to close his career in Lexington. He’s meant a lot to our program,” Vitatoe said.

Junior Amber Allen also earned a berth in the state meet, placing third in the regional pole vault with 7 feet, 6 inches.

“Amber had a great meet in the pole vault. I’m happy for her,” Vitatoe said. “To break a school record and become the first female pole vaulter to make state in the history of our county is special.”

Also representing the Black Bears will be the girls 4 x 100-meter relay team, which finished third with a time of 52.83 seconds. The team of Phebe McHargue, Hannah Wood, Makayla Walters and Abby Stephens broke the school record in each of the last five meets of the season.

“I’m really happy for this girls 4×100 team to get into the state meet. They’ve been lights out this season,” Vitatoe said. “They are a special group, and they deserve to be in the state meet running the times they’ve run this season.”

The Class 3A state championship meet will begin Saturday at 10 a.m.

Harlan will also be represented by five athletes, including one final appearance for one very familiar face at the state championship.

Senior Mackenzie King will be making her fourth consecutive appearance in both the shot put and discus after winning those events for the second straight year, and the third time in four seasons, at the Class A Region 6 championship Friday at the University of the Cumberlands. The defending state shot put champion won that event with a throw of 35 feet, 6.5 inches, and won the discus with a throw of 113 feet, 2 inches, shattering the school record.

“She is coming in ranked No. 1 in discus in the state and No. 2 at shot,” Harlan coach Tara Posey said. “She has an excellent work ethic. What she has accomplished these last four years is from hard work and perseverance. She has gone beyond our normal practice to better herself, and it shows in what she is accomplishing.”

Junior John Brock also qualified in two events, winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.56 seconds and placing second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.82 seconds.

“He continues to get faster each competition,” Posey said. “You can see his improvement from his ninth-grade year, and it’s some impressive seconds he’s knocking off his events.”

Carter Barnes, another junior, qualified in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 6.25 inches.

“Carter is just an athlete. He hadn’t worked a whole lot this season on long jump; we primarily put him in our relays due to some injuries throughout our season,” Posey said. “I think focusing on his speed improved his long jump by at least a foot this season and earned him a second place finish and a trip to the state meet.”

Freshman Story Miller qualified in the pole vault for the second consecutive year, earning an at-large bid with a 10-foot vault.

“Story has a strong work ethic that’s going to pay off for him,” Posey said. “I expect to see him jump higher at state; he twisted his ankle a few days before region and wasn’t 100 percent, but still did well enough to qualify. He puts in hours of extra work outside of practice as well. He comes from a family history of successful track athletes, and he knows what it takes to be a champion.”

The Dragons’ biggest surprise at the state meet will be the appearance of seventh-grader Raegan Jones, who earned an at-large berth in the girls high jump, finishing fifth with a jump of 4 feet, 6 inches.

“This is her first year with our program. She wasn’t able to be at a lot of practice because she plays softball as well,” Posey said. “She is just an athlete and a fierce competitor. She has that fight in her that we just don’t see much anymore. I looked forward to working with her on many future events. This experience at an early age in a state meet is going to be great for her.”

The Class A championship meet is set to begin Thursday at 4 p.m.

Local finishers in the regional meets are listed below:

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Class 3A, Region 7

Girls

100-meter dash: 7) Hannah Wood, Harlan County, 13.7; 9) Phebe McHargue, Harlan County, 13.85.

200-meter dash: 7) Phebe McHargue, Harlan County, 28.51; 8) Hannah Wood, Harlan County, 28.75.

400-meter dash: 4) Kassydee Owens, Harlan County, 1:08.03; 6) Morgan Blakley, Harlan County, 1:08.66.

800-meter run: 9) Morgan Blakley, Harlan County, 2:42.90; 15) Ariel Madden, Harlan County, 2:55.36.

1,600-meter run: 8) Morgan Blakley, Harlan County, 6:01.85; 11) Summer Farley, Harlan County, 6:31.16.

3,200-meter run: 10) Breanna Epperson, Harlan County, 14:11.10; 11) Summer Farley, Harlan County, 14:20.38.

100-meter hurdles: 4) Baili Boggs, Harlan County, 19.13; 7) Abby Stephens, Harlan County, 19.56.

300-meter hurdles: 5) Baili Boggs, Harlan County, 53.40; 12) Mekenzie Cornett, Harlan County, 58.81.

4 x 100-meter relay: 1) Pulaski County, 52:18; 2) West Jessamine, 52.56; 3) Harlan County, 52.83.

4 x 200-meter relay: 3) Harlan County, 1:54.34

4 x 400-meter relay: 6) Harlan County, 4:47.36.

4 x 800-meter relay: 6) Harlan County, 12:08.75.

High jump: 4) Madison Blanton, Harlan County, 4-8; 11) Kassydee Owens, Harlan County, 4-4.

Long jump: 7) Madison Blanton, Harlan County, 14-9.25; 12) Kassydee Owens, Harlan County, 13-3.5.

Triple jump: 7) Madison Blanton, Harlan County, 30-0.5; 12) Reanna Middleton, Harlan County, 26-7.

Pole vault: 3) Amber Allen, Harlan County, 7-6; 6) Abby Vitatoe, Harlan County, 7-0.

Shot put: 5) Breann Turner, Harlan County, 27-11; 12) Dixie Ewing, Harlan County, 22-0.

Discus: 1) Breann Turner, Harlan County, 69-6; 8) Kelly Beth Hoskins, Harlan County, 66-2.

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Boys

100-meter dash: 9) Colby King, Harlan County, 11.93; 12) Matthew Brown, Harlan County, 12.15.

200-meter dash: 9) Colby King, Harlan County, 24.17; 15) Caleb Carmical, Harlan County, 25.35.

400-meter dash: 8) Hunter Owens, Harlan County, 55.81; 17) Hunter Mefford, Harlan County, 59.19

800-meter run: 1) Alex Lewis, Harlan County, 2:02.30; 13) Josh Lee, Harlan County, 2:19.64.

1,600-meter run: 8) Alex Lewis, Harlan County, 5:04.61; 11) Josh Lee, Harlan County, 5:11.00.

3,200-meter run: 9) Caleb Brock, Harlan County, 11:08.52; 10) Zack Carmical, Harlan County, 11:26.25.

4 x 100-meter relay: 5) Harlan County, 45.65.

4 x 200-meter relay: 6) Harlan County, 1:38.02.

4 x 400-meter relay: 10) Harlan County, 3:53.89.

4 x 800-meter relay: 4) Harlan County, 8:51.59

High jump: 13) Kyton Joseph, Harlan County, 5-2; 16) James Chasteen, Harlan County, 5-0.

Long jump: 7) Devon Rodrigues, Harlan County, 18-11.5; 12) Kyton Joseph, Harlan County, 17-7.5

Triple jump: 7) Kyton Joseph, Harlan County, 36.10; 13) Gavin Spurlock, Harlan County, 30-0.5.

Pole vault: 7) Phillip Helton, Harlan County, 9-6.

Discus: 13) Austin Smith, Harlan County, 94-11; 15) Jake Bush, Harlan County, 88-11.

Shot put: 5) Jake Bush, Harlan County, 41-6; 15) Austin Caudill, Harlan County, 37-0.75.

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Class A, Region 6

Girls

100-meter dash: 13) Emma Owens, Harlan, 15.47.

200-meter dash: 13) Raegan Jones, Harlan, 32.22; 17) Emma Owens, Harlan, 33.63.

400-meter dash: 7) Ella Morton, Harlan, 1:09.95.

800-meter run: 3) Lucy Bryson, Harlan, 2:42.98.

1,600-meter run: 11) Mackenzie Combs, Harlan, 7:55.42.

100-meter hurdles: 9) Tonia Stewart, Harlan, 24.05; 11) Elizabeth Esan, Harlan, 40.92.

300-meter hurdles: 9) Tonia Stewart, Harlan, 1:08.04.

4 x 200-meter relay: 7) Harlan, 2:08.49.

4 x 400-meter relay: 6) Harlan, 5:09.83.

4 x 800-meter relay: 4) Harlan, 13:08.64.

High jump: 5) Raegan Jones, Harlan, 4-6; 6) Natalee King, Harlan, 4-4.

Long jump: 14) Ai-Yana Harriston, Harlan, 10-10; 17) Emma Owens, Harlan, 9-9.5.

Shot put: 1) Mackenzie King, Harlan, 35-6.5; 12) Marissa Marlow, Harlan, 22-2.

Discus: 1) Mackenzie King, Harlan, 113-2; 16) Harley Middleton, Harlan, 45-11.

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Boys

100-meter dash: 2) John Brock, Harlan, 11.82.

800-meter run: 14) Charles David Morton, Harlan, 2:29.13; 15) Tate Bryson, Harlan, 2:29.49.

3,200-meter run: 9) Charles David Morton, Harlan, 13:00.77.

110-meter hurdles: 4) Jarrett McKenzie, Harlan, 19.01.

300-meter hurdles: 1) John Brock, Harlan, 43.56.

4 x 100-meter relay: 4) Harlan, 47.68.

4 x 400-meter relay: 4) Harlan, 3:55.82.

High jump: 5) Carter Barnes, Harlan, 5-4.

Long jump: 2) Carter Barnes, Harlan, 18-6.25.

Pole vault: 3) Story Miller, Harlan, 10-0.

Shot put: 18) Cade Middleton, Harlan, 28-2.5; 22) Tate Bryson, Harlan, 27-7.5.

Discus: 16) Cade Middleton, Harlan, 72-9.