CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Victories are rarely achieved without challenge and Cabell Midland's boys shuttle hurdle squad overcame obstacles, figuratively and literally, this season, ultimately prevailing to capture a state title Friday night.
The Knights' shuttle hurdle relay team began the season with two senior standouts in Nate Moore and Niles Dailey, but without the efforts and improvements of newcomers Jacob Morgan and Daniel Jarrell, Midland would be trailing the pack, not leading it. Midland took first at the West Virginia state championship with a time of 56.84 seconds at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.
"It feels great, because I don't want to let these guys down," Jarrell, a freshman, said of his elder teammates. "It's their last year in shuttle hurdles, so I just went out and tried to do my best, bring back a win, and that's what we did."
Jarrell proved a key part in the third leg of the four-man relay. After hitting the sixth hurdle, Jarrell continued forward without hesitation to record his fastest split of the season.
"He hit that hurdle and just went right on through it," said Jerry Smalley, Midland hurdles coach. "That was a great thing. He went under 15 (seconds). His best time had been 15.2, and he hit that hurdle. He crushed that hurdle. If he hadn't hit that, he would have been 14.6."
The win required four equal contributing parts and each Knight delivered.
"Daniel did great, Jacob got us off to a great start," Smalley said. "Niles and Nate, they just do their thing. They're out there to hurdle."
Morgan, a junior, started strong as Midland's first hurdler.
"It was the first time all year I've actually had the lead coming out the lead leg like that," he said. "It felt good knowing I had the lead already and they were going to bring it up, so I wasn't worried about it after that."
Dailey followed next and said each team member exhibited great form en route to victory.
"Just staying smooth, with the knee drive and not pressing, getting over the hurdles clean and smooth," he said. "I felt like we did that today."
Jarrell continued the momentum before giving way to Moore. With the lead in hand, Moore took the anchor and finished the winning effort.
"I looked up and saw we had the lead," Moore said. "Danny, our freshman, he really pulled something out, got us ahead, got us a nice lead and I just kept telling myself to stay smooth, not hit any hurdles, just finish up and keep the lead."
The Knights teammates immediately celebrated their victory following Moore's crossing of the finish line. The road to Friday's glory had its own hurdles, as Midland worked to find two solid complements to Moore and Dailey this season on the relay team.
"Jacob came on early and then Daniel didn't come to us until about three and a half weeks, four weeks into the season," Smalley said. "We needed a fourth guy and he said 'I can do it,' and he did it. He came through strong tonight."