Class A State Track and Field Championship Recap

There’s only so many times when a meet will come down to the last event and this morning it happened twice. With Newport Catholic Central leading on the girls side by one point over St. Henry and by five points over a resilient Murray squad and St. Henry boys leading over Fort Campbell by one point and Fort Knox by just three points, there was plenty on the line for the most exciting event in track and field. All three of these girls teams lined up in the final heat of the girls meet for the rights to the title and it ended in a runaway victory for the squad from Newport Central Catholic, while St. Henry held on to claim 2nd overall by holding on for 5th, while Murray was left in 3rd. Danville’s squad was down in 4th thanks to three wins, two by Kaitlin Snapp of Danville (1600 and 3200 meters) and one by Candice Taylor of Danville (long jump). On the boys’ side, Walton Verona led Bardstown across the finish in the 1600 meter relay, with Fort Campbell not too far behind to clinch their team title. Bardstown’s finish bumped them up into the 3rd spot in the team rankings, while St. Henry was left sitting 2nd yet again.

Newport Central Catholic’s ladies found ways to get points everywhere and they did it without claiming many wins. They were 3rd in the 3200 relay, 5th in the 800 relay, 2nd in the 400 relay, 8th in the 400 meters, 3rd in the 300 hurdles, 4th in the 800 meters, and took 1st in the 1600 meter relay. Those points start to add up, though, and when you add in 1st and 3rd in the throws from Frannie Schultz as well as Kylie Bartels’ 3rd-place finish in the long jump and Emma Heil’s 4th-place high jump finish, and when it was over, it was another title. After losing to St. Henry in the regional by just more than 21 points last week, it was definitely up in the air, but the story came together in the 3200 meters. With NCC up by only 1 point, Maria Frigo and Lindsey Hinken toed the line in the 3200 meters with a chance to sew the meet up. On names alone, the stadium felt like the two ladies would have enough to at least put 6-8 points up between the two of them, but as the race unfolded, the pressure and the heat proved to be too much as Frigo faded badly before requiring medical attention after the race, while Hinken struggled to hold on before fading in the last 800 meters to 10th. That sealed St. Henry’s fate, as NCC is known for the damage that they are capable of in the 1600 meter relay and they came through to claim another title.

Fort Campbell brought Anthony Topps in the field events, taking 1st in the shot put (49-09.50) and 4th in the discus (139-07) and did even more damage in the pole vault (David Sahms 4th, 11-06) and long/triple jumps (Antonio Andrews 5th/7th, 19-08.75/42-04.00). The rest of the damage, though, was all in the sprints and hurdles. Darien Crank was 2nd in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles behind Fort Knox’s Courtney Edwards, their 800 meter relay was 4th from the 2nd section, and Bryan Beeler placed 6th in the 400 meters (52.00). That doesn’t seem like a whole lot of scoring, but when it took about 63 points to win the meet, their finish in the 1600 meter relay proved to be just enough to make it happen. A complete team effort for the squad yielded a title that has to be sweet and well-deserved after perservering on a steamy hot day in Louisville.

Kaitlin Snapp of Danville was as calm as ever, though, and never looked pressed of pushed in the 1600 or 3200 meters. Ann Eason and Maddox Patterson of Sayre brought a challenge, but Snapp passed with flying colors and got some redemption after a full year of frustration have kept her without a title since 2008. It was a great sight to see her leaving the rest of the competition in the 3200 meters and striding away for a strong performance, though she did run the last 1600 meters in just under 6:00 as she had already done enough damage to almost coast in. Always the team player, though, Snapp was ready when she was called on in the 1600 meter relay to close out the day for Danville’s crew and did everything she could with what energy she had left. The Danville crew could easily have played the could have and would have game after having a weak showing in the triple jump, but Snapp helped to end the meet for the crew on a positive note and they were able to walk away with a 4th place trophy.

Trevin Peterson of Walton Verona was a surprise to some on the track, even after lighting up the competition at last fall’s Class A State Cross Country Championships. Peterson ran a leg on the Walton Verona 3200 relay that snapped up 3rd place (8:23.77), handled himself incredibly well to take 2nd in the 1600 meters behind Jacob Thomson of Holy Cross (Louisville), and then impressed in finding a way to place 2nd in the 800 meters as well behind Adam Kahleifeh of Bardstown. It was a nice end to an incredible year for the junior from Walton Verona who will return as one of the favorites to be at the top in both cross country and track next year.

Of course there was Courtney Edwards of Fort Knox just dominating the hurdles races en route to taking another four titles this year. The future LSU Tiger, as a walk on, repeated his performance from last year, team his hurdle titles with wins in the long jump (21-10) and triple jump (45-02.50) and almost single-handedly put Fort Knox in the hunt for the team title. The Fort Knox crew, though, also was strong with Quensie Brown, who was 2nd in the fast section but 6th overall in the 100 meters and joined with teammates Lamar Benjamin, Xavier Hancock, and Corey Malloy to take the title in the 400 meter relay. Hancock pulled an 8th place finish in the 400 meters, but that, along with Brown not scoring in the 200 meters, kept the group from challenging for the team win today. 4th place is a solid end to a very strong season for an experienced crew that loses quite a bit next year.

Fort Knox isn’t just about the boys, though, as Kiara Austin stepped up and became a star on her own today. First, she edged ahead of Model’s Chelsea Harnack at the line to win the 100 meter hurdles (15.73 to 15.78). Then, she went out and won the triple jump on the final attempt after teammate Tiana Benjamin took the lead just before Austin’s final leap with her own jump of 35-11.75. Harnack struck back and won the 300 hurdles, but Austin hung on to place 5th in the 300s as well as earning a tie for 6th in the high jump with a clearance of 4-10. Austin is just a sophomore and definitely will continue to develop with her next challenge possibly being a fight for supremacy in the 300 meter hurdles with this year’s runner-up, and last year’s champion, Diamond Pace of Danville.

One of the toughest things to see on the day, though, had to be Chelsea Harnack collapsing in a heap as she was rounding out the curve in the 200 meter dash. She had already just missed a win in the short hurdles behind Austin, won the 100 meters (12.68), claimed the 300 hurdles (47.28), and was looking to finish out her day in style before it came to an abrupt halt. The senior, was able to be removed from the track relatively quickly, but looked to be in bad shape after it was all over and we can only hope that the damage that she suffered is not long term. We wish her a quick recovery and good luck as she heads off to Xavier in the fall.

Plenty more stories to follow and we may find some time to uncover them in the coming days, but for now it’s time for us to turn our attention to the Class AAA meet as the weekend comes to a fitting end.