Prep track: Cabell Midland boys hope to unseat Jefferson
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If any team stands to upset Jefferson, the Cabell Midland boys track team offers the best chance at the West Virginia track and field state championships.
Jefferson enters as the three-time defending Class AAA champion and is ranked No. 1, according to www.runwv.com, though Midland lists second behind the strength of many solid distance runners and hurdlers. All will compete today and Saturday in the two-day State Meet held at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.
"You look at it and definitely Jefferson is the favorite, but we're going to go in there going all out and we're going to try to give them a run for their money," Knights Coach Chris Parsons said. "That's our goal, and I think that would be any team's goal, but I definitely think the target's on their back."
Senior Jacob Burcham will cap his standout high school career. Burcham, an Oklahoma commit, is the defending champ in the 800-meter run, 1600 and 3200, and he holds the state meet records in all three events
"Our plan is for him to win all three of those," Parsons said. "His goals this weekend, I think in the two-mile, he just wants to defend his title. He's not going to try to break his record. Saturday, if the weather's good, he would like to lower his 800 and his 1600 record. That's what he'll be going for."
Other Knights expected to score in distance events include Brian Lawhon, Mason Dion, Avery Campbell and Jeremy Waugh, as Midland looks to take advantage of its strength.
Midland hurdlers Nate Moore and Niles Dailey are also expected to dominate the hurdles. Both Moore and Dailey rank in the state's top 10 for the 110-high hurdles and 300-intermediate hurdles, with Moore No. 1 in the 110.
Beyond Midland's individuals, a multitude of area athletes also will look to contend for titles and All-State status. In sprint events, Marquez Griffin (Point Pleasant), Davon Tyson (Capital), John Hathaway (Winfield) and Jacob Kilgore (Spring Valley) list among top local contenders. Jefferson's Dante Price, a Virginia Tech commit, is expected to sweep the 100, 200 and 400 individual events.
For distance events, George Washington's Matthew Brafford should place among the best in addition to Midland's crew.
Point Pleasant looks to hold the edge as top area contender in the 4x100 and 4x200, with Hurricane in the 4x400 and Midland expected to win the 4x800 and shuttle hurdle relay.
In pole vault, Tristan Slater (Capital), Chantz Rankin (Hurricane) and Chris Cochran (Winfield) will battle for the top spot.
On the girls side, fifth-ranked Winfield represents the top Kanawha Valley team. Defending champion Morgantown and defending runner-up Buckhannon-Upshur are expected to battle for the team title.
"For us to finish in the top five, right now, that's exceptional," Generals Coach David Bailey said. "Anything above that is icing on the cake for us. That's a goal we've kind of set."
Winfield's Emily Cole and Anika Shah will compete in both the 100 and 200, as will St. Albans sophomore Anacia Hines, a favorite to earn All-State honors.
Hines also enters as a top contender in the 100 hurdles, as does Midland's Makenzi Niebergall. Generals hurdler Josee Erlandson ranks second statewide in the 300s.
In the 800, Barkley Castro, of Winfield, ranks first in Class AAA. Midland's Jakeya Perrin and Alex Ellis, as well as Emily Schwendiman (Hurricane) and Andrea Porter (Point Pleasant) will also contend in middle-distance and long-distance events.
In addition to Schwendiman, Capital sophomore Peyton Panger is a top threat in both the 1600 and 3200.
"Emily Schwendiman has just had a great year all year, and it's her goal to be in the top three in the states for the 3200, and I think that's a definite possibility," Hurricane Coach Jason Henley said. "She has the potential to do it in the 3200 or the 1600."
For relays, Winfield will prove a solid threat to score in all five events, though Hurricane has the edge in the 4x800 and Midland in the shuttle hurdles.
"Distance wise, I feel like our 4x800 has the opportunity to compete for a state title this year," Henley said of Hurricane's relay.
"It'll take the right amount of luck to go along with their preparedness, but I think they're ready to do something pretty good."
In field events, Hurricane's Lauren London will look to repeat as an All-Stater. Abby Watson, of Hurricane, and George Washington freshman Lillie Jacobs will be among top contenders in the discus. Watson and Jacobs will also compete in the shot put.