Prep track: Poca's Crites out front in Cardinal hurdles
POCA - At track championship time, on some occasions all it takes is a final kick, a nose or, in Poca's Josh Crites, a lean to earn victory.
Crites, a senior, captured the 110-meter high hurdles title as part of Thursday's Cardinal Conference Championships held at Poca. Crites also added a win in the 300 intermediate hurdles to help spur the Dots to the boys team championship.
To secure the win in the 110, Crites lunged forward, narrowly edging Herbert Hoover's Josh Gurksi by two-tenths of a second.
Scott won the girls title, while Hoover finished second and Poca third.
"I had to get him on the lean," Crites said. "I was getting fatigued toward the end. At the beginning, he got me (with his leg) on the front, sweeped around and hit me. I knew I had to fight through it, so I just had to power through, and I got him on the lean."
For Crites, the win marked a hard-fought accomplishment as he's worked to improve his 110 time. Crites finished sixth at last year's state track championships in the 300 hurdles to earn all-state status, though did not advance to the finals in the 110.
"The past few years, I've been running 110s, I haven't been at my best potential, so that's something I've been focusing on more," Crites said, "and my 300s have been slacking, so I've got to pick it up a little bit. I've sort of been trying to do a little bit more this past week in practice working more on the 300s."
If Crites' 300s have suffered, it doesn't show. Crites entered Thursday's meet ranked third in the state in the 300 hurdles, according to www.runwv.com.
Still, Crites has his eyes set on lofty goals for his premier event, so there's plenty of work to be done before regionals.
"After tonight, especially this upcoming week in practice, I'm going to work more on the 300s, work on my stride, my kick, coming through it," Crites said. "I was an all-stater last year, but I wasn't too satisfied with it. I plan on scoring big this year."
Dots Coach John Bonecutter said Crites' dedication lifts him beyond the limits of his opposition.
"He's always been one of the hardest workers we've had," Bonecutter said. "His work ethic is what has gotten him to where he is so quick. It's definitely his work ethic."
In addition to hard work, Crites brings his own natural frame to the event with long legs that stride far, reach across the hurdles and snap back into place time after time. Poca's track coaches took quick notice of Crites' physique when he first joined the team as a sophomore.
"As soon as I came to practice, my first week, hurdle coach Brian Scott looked at me and said 'I want you to become a hurdler,' " Crites said. "I was a little skeptical at first, but they taught me form, had some of the guys running with me, taught me form, and I've been running ever since. It just comes natural."
What doesn't come naturally or to hard work, Crites said he leaves to his faith.
"Before I come out of my blocks, in every practice, I pray before I do it," he said. "At a meet, I pray. I have a real good, Christian faith, and I just pray that God not only helps me win - that would be up to His will to let me win, and I thank Him for it, but I just pray and whatever the outcome, win or lose, I give Him the glory. That pushes me through everything."
In addition to the 110 and 300 hurdles, Crites was scheduled to race in the 400-meter run and as part of Poca's shuttle hurdle relay team. Results for those events were not made available as of press time.
As Crites dominated the hurdles, so did his Dots teammates in the discus. Sophomore Christian Buckley won the event with a throw of 157 feet, one and one-half inches. Buckley's older brother Quentin Buckley, a senior, placed second, while Jacob Hickman claimed third.