PREP TRACK: Small schools prepare for regionals




Bob Wojcieszak/Daily Mail
Poca’s Hank Larch is one of three ranked Dots in the long jump.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A strong crew of hurdlers highlights the Buffalo boys track team and behind that strength, the Bison look to be among favorites competing at the regional track and field championships.

Buffalo enters Wednesday’s Class A Region 4 meet, to begin 10 a.m. at University of Charleston Stadium, with the state’s fastest shuttle hurdle relay and several athletes ranked as individuals.

“We talk about it all the time, getting better each time we go out, so we’re hoping to have to have some better times than we’ve previously had and just let the chips fall where they may,” Buffalo coach Richie Wyant said.

The Bison enter the regional meet ranked second as a team in Class A, according to, and will battle at the regional meet against No. 1 Doddridge County. The top three individuals or relays from each event will automatically qualify for the state meet, with the next four best marks across each of the four regions advancing, too.

To give Doddridge its best challenge, Buffalo will rely upon plenty of points from its capable hurdlers. Seniors Gabe Garrison (fourth) and Cody Sheppard (seventh) each list among the state’s best in the 110-meter high hurdles, with Sheppard fifth in the 300 intermediate hurdles, too. However, the Bison boast some young talent to round out the hurdling group.

“We got a sophomore, Ty Smith, and a freshman, Hayden Erwin, on our shuttle team that have been doing really, really well,” Wyant said. “Right now, we’ve got the fastest posted time this year in Class A.”

Buffalo also boasts plenty of other talented athletes including Jordan Tucker (200), Isaiah Robinson (800) and Hayden Harrison (1600). Each ranks No. 1 in his respective top events, while also being listed among the state’s best in other events.

In addition to the shuttles, the Bison rank among the top five in each of the other four relay events, including second in the 4x800, which Buffalo has won three consecutive years at the state meet.

Beyond Buffalo, fourth-ranked Charleston Catholic will compete, with senior Caden McClanahan, ranked in the 1600 and 3200, among the team’s top athletes. Senior Philip Mallory ranks first statewide in the 400 and second in both the 300 hurdles and pole vault.

Catholic expects to score in the relays, too, with four of five relay teams ranking in the state’s top 10, including first in the 4x800.

On the girls side, third-ranked Catholic will battle defending state champion Williamstown, currently ranked No. 1, and second-ranked Doddridge.

“From top to bottom, I think it’s the hardest region by far,” Irish coach Scott Welch said.

Catholic leads with depth in middle-distance and distance events, as well as relay events, but carry balance throughout the roster.

Sophomore Payton Mullen ranks first in the state for the 800, while teammates Lia Preston and Quincy McKown follow in second and third, with Mary Katherine Kay seventh. Mullen also ranks first in the 3200 (two-mile) and second in the 1600 (mile).

In relays, Catholic ranks top-five in four of the five events, including first in the 4x800.

Upon conclusion of the Class A Region 4 meet, the Region 3 meet will begin approximately 4 p.m. Richwood enters as the defending regional champions in both boys and girls. Sherman’s girls represent the lone ranked squad at 10th.

Valley’s Abby Buchan looks to be a potential high-point winner, as she ranks statewide in the 100, high jump and discus.

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LESS THAN a week after winning the Cardinal Conference Championships in both boys and girls, Herbert Hoover enters among the top contenders on both sides of the Class AA Region 4 meet, beginning 10 a.m. Thursday.

“It’s just really been a collective effort from of all of them,” Huskies coach Lance Moore said of the squad.

The Hoover girls rank eighth, but will face tough tasks in No. 5 Nicholas County and ninth-ranked Wayne.

The Huskies tout talent and numbers across the board, led by junior Emilee Henry, who ranks top-three in the 100, 200 and 400. Sophomore Hannah Schoolcraft lists among the state’s best in both the 300 hurdles and long jump.

Individually, Sissonville senior Grace Montgomery enters as the state’s No. 1 in the 300 hurdles.

For the boys, Poca ranks best among Region 4 teams with a No. 5 ranking statewide, yet unranked Hoover presents a serious challenge with its depth.

“I think Hoover is definitely the favorite in the boys and girls, just because they’ve got a lot of quantity points,” Dots coach John Bonecutter said. “They’re going to score a lot of points at the regional meet. They have a lot of kids, a lot of good athletes on those teams.”

What Poca lacks in numbers, the team compensates with skill, as its small group packs plenty of talent.

Junior Christian Buckley is the defending state champion in both the shot put and discus, gaining interest from many Division-I schools, including Purdue, Kentucky and several Ivy League schools, Bonecutter said.

“His progression, this year, has been unbelievable,” Bonecutter said of Buckley. “He goes about his business and he gets the job done.”

Poca Freshman Chase Dotson is also expected to garner points in the shot and disc.

Dots Hank Larch, A.J. Keyes and Hayden Webb each rank in the state’s top 10 for long jump and provide great speed to several of Poca’s relay squads, too.

Individually, Scott’s Zack Marcum ranks statewide in the 200, 400, 300 hurdles and high jump.

Upon conclusion of the Class AA Region 4 meet, the Region 3 meet will begin approximately 4 p.m. Thursday. PikeView (girls) and Summers County (boys) enter as defending regional champs.

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