Hurricane runner Tori Dent intends to leave a lasting impression at this year’s AAA track and field state championships, and she made her first step toward that goal with solid season-opening performances on Saturday.
Dent, a senior, won both the 800-meter run and 1600 in the Carlos Akers & Doc Hale Memorial Invitational hosted by Cabell Midland. The pair of victories marked a great feat for Dent, who missed her junior track season because of patellar tendonitis.
“To be able to come back out this week and open up her track season, put some of the faster times out there in the state and come away with wins in two of her three races this week is a big deal,” Redskins coach Jason Henley said.
Dent’s contributions helped Hurricane to place first among 16 girls teams attending, as Putnam County rival Winfield placed second and Parkersburg claimed third. On the boys side, 18 schools participated as Parkersburg won, with Winfield in second and host Midland third.
“I feel 100 percent for this season, so I’m really excited,” Dent said. “I was just happy to be out there in general, because last year at that time I had to sit out and watch everybody else race, but it was fun to do it, and a win is a win, so I’m just going to take it as a little lesson and move on from it, because it’s early in the season — times don’t matter. Meets like this are ones you can play around with, get different results and learn from it.”
Dent’s focus and commitment to running fuel her success, though last season it may have contributed to her injury.
“She’s very aggressive, very focused on what it is she wants to do, and so there were some times where she maybe was pushing the envelope a little bit in training when she probably shouldn’t have been,” Henley said.
As a junior, Dent attempted to continue her winter track training despite a hip injury. Her body overcompensated for the hip and resulted in her knee injury, one that prohibited her from any further running.
Dent returned for cross country season in the fall, placing 14th overall to help the Redskins finish second as a team.
Now, after committing to run at Marshall University, Dent said she wants to end her high school career with more than a state title.
“I really want to leave my mark on high school,” she said. “I told coach (Henley) from the beginning of the year that I wanted to break, if not both state records, at least one state record in either the mile or the 800, and I’m out there working my butt off with my team every day. I think you’ll remember someone if you’re a state champion, but if you leave a record there, then they’re always going to know you, so my goal is to break a state record this year. I think I can do it. I’ve been working really hard, so we’ll just have to see.”
In addition to her individual events, Dent will race as part of Hurricane’s formidable 4x800 relay, which won Saturday.
“We feel like we have a 4x800 that could be as good as anybody in the state right now, and she’ll definitely be a key figure in that 4x800,” Henley said.
Beyond Dent, several other Redskins posted strong efforts on Saturday. Other Hurricane girls winners included: Abbie Short (3200), Lauren London (long jump) and Abby Watson (shot put). Watson also finished second in the discus.
In relay events, Hurricane won the 4x100, in addition to the 4x800. Winfield claimed the 4x200 and 4x400, with Midland capturing the shuttle hurdles.
For Winfield, Carly Hinkle won the high jump, while Midland’s Jakeya Perrin finished first in the 200.
In boys results, Parkersburg narrowly defeated Winfield by 10 points, with Midland taking third by four points ahead of Hurricane.
The Generals performed strong in relays by winning the 4x200 and 4x400. Winfield placed second in the 4x800 and third in the 4x100. Bryce Humphreys (400), Christian Smith (high jump, long jump) and Noah Julian (shot put) posted second-place finishes individually.
For George Washington, Will Walker excelled in the hurdles by winning the 300 hurdles and taking second in the 110 hurdles.
Hurricane showed strength in the field events with Brian Hughes (high jump) and Chantz Rankin (pole vault) each winning. Redskins athletes Jonah Fennerty (shot put) and Alec Cummings (discus) finished third in their respective events.
The attending AAA schools dominated the results, though Class A Buffalo held its own to take eighth on the boys side. Bison runner Hayden Harrison won the 3200, while teammate Isaiah Robinson finished second in the 800 and fourth in the 400. Cody Sheppard placed fourth in the 110 hurdles.