State track meet notebook: Cabell Midland shuttle hurdle relay team wins title
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."
As the season progressed, the unity, form and times improved.
"The last three weeks, we took a second off each week," Smalley said. "In three weeks, we took three seconds off, so that's the awesome part.
"It was a little shaky at the beginning of the year and then we got better technique wise and form wise."
Area teams dominate 4x800 relays
The Midland boys (AAA), Charleston Catholic girls (A) and Buffalo boys (A) each won the 4x800 relay.
For Buffalo, the victory was the program's third consecutive at the state meet. Senior standout Dylan Rich and junior Isaiah Robinson have raced on all three Bison title teams. Senior Tyler Torman and junior Conner Lamb contributed to Friday's first-place showing.
The win represented Buffalo's latest success in a string of dominance for the event, but it wasn't long ago the Bison were forgotten, not the favorite, Coach Richie Wyant said.
"It's so funny because for so long we weren't even a thought in the 4x800 race," he said. "In the last four years, four years ago we were fourth and the last three years we've won it. We've still got a lot of potential to maybe do it again next year."
Behind Buffalo, Charleston Catholic placed second in the Class A boys 4x800. Caden McClanahan, Justin Snyder, Marcus Black and Phillip Mallory teamed together in an impressive showing, but Buffalo proved too strong in its signature event.
With Oklahoma commit Jacob Burcham running, Midland's 4x800 relay set a state meet record. The Knights finished in 7:49.84 to break the previous record set by Hedgesville in 1995. In addition to Burcham, Avery Campbell, Mason Dino and Brian Lawhon raced at record-setting pace to secure the win by more than 15 seconds against second-place Jefferson.
On the girls side, Catholic edged Williamstown by two seconds for the win. Peyton Keener, Sarah Joseck, Quincy McKown and Payton Mullen combined for the victory.
In the AAA race, Hurricane placed second with the team of Joie Johnston, Natalie Schwendiman, Ally Lawhon and Emily Schwendiman.
Jump to success
Scott senior Haylie Damron placed second in AA long jump with a leap of 16 feet, seven inches.
In boys Class A, Poca's A.J. Keyes earned All-State honors with a fourth-place finish jump of 19 feet, four and three-fourth inches. Fellow Dot Hank Larch placed seventh with a jump of 18 feet, 11 inches.