CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The football season failed to meet expectations for Buffalo’s Gabe Garrison, but Wednesday the three-sport senior athlete succeeded in one of his final steps at the Class A Region 4 Track and Field Championships.
During the third game of the football schedule, Garrison suffered his third concussion in 12 months, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Garrison returned to form for basketball, and with his regional track win Wednesday in the 110-meter hurdles, he looks to end his high school athletic career on his terms as he advances to next week’s state meet.
“It was definitely a motivator, because having my season ended that quickly in football, it made me realize this is my last year,” Garrison said. “It really helped me get out on the track and work harder towards what I achieved today.”
The top three individuals or relays from each event automatically qualified to the state meet, with the top four in pole vault and high jump advancing. The next four best marks, except pole vault and high jump, across each of the four regions will also qualify, though those marks were not yet determined at press time.
Garrison finished with a personal-best time of 16.33 seconds in the 110 hurdles. He also ran the first leg of Buffalo’s winning shuttle hurdle relay team, and he contributed as part of the third-place 4x100 relay and fourth-place 4x200.
What once served as a secondary sport has now become his athletic passion with track, Garrison said.
“It’s definitely become my main sport over the years,” he said. “Freshman year, it was probably more football or basketball, but I really came to like it the past two years definitely, and (that’s why) I’ll be running up at West Virginia Wesleyan.”
In addition to Garrison, several other Bison athletes performed strong to push Buffalo to a second-place finish behind Doddridge County.
“I’m ecstatic,” Buffalo coach Richie Wyant said. “They did really, really well.”
Individual event winners from Buffalo included Jordan Tucker (100, 200), Isaiah Robinson (800), Hayden Harrison (1600) and Cody Sheppard (300 hurdles). Sheppard (110 hurdles) and Harrison (3200) qualified in other events, too. Many more Bison athletes could also advance as times from across the state’s other regions are to be posted.
For Charleston Catholic, senior Philip Mallory excelled by automatically qualifying in four individual events to help the Irish to a fourth-place showing.
“He hadn’t run an open 800 all year and he got second,” Catholic coach Scott Welch said, “and (he) qualified in the 300 hurdles, the 400 and the pole vault.
“We’re going to have to make a decision with him in states on what, if anything, he’s going to step out of and move to the relay or does he not move to the relay, so we’re going to have some fun with him this week and figure out what we’re going to do.”
Catholic also automatically qualified its boys 4x200 and 4x400 relays and will await word if its fourth-place 4x100 will advance.
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ON THE GIRLS side, Irish sophomore Payton Mullen led the squad to a third-place team finish behind defending state champion Williamstown and second-ranked Doddridge. Mullen won two tight races, each determined by less than two seconds, in the 1600 and 3200.
Welch said he urged his athletes to not push themselves so long as they had secured an automatically qualifying spot, and he felt happy with the results.
“Everything that needed to make it did, and I’m hoping there’s a couple other ones on the fringe that can get in,” he said.
In the 800, Catholic sophomore Peyton Keener led a one-two-three performance for the Irish, as teammates Lia Preston and Quincy McKown followed with automatic qualifications.
Hannah Gacek qualified with a third-place finish in the 3200 and hopes to advance with her fourth-place showing in the 1600, as does McKown who took fifth in the 1600.
In field events, Irish senior Gina Marks won the shot put and Catholic senior Catherine Casingal took second in pole vault. Catherine Casingal and Mia Casingal placed fourth and fifth respectively in the 100 and will await regional times to determine their advancement. Buffalo junior Brianne Cantley earned an automatic qualification with her third-place finish in the 100.
As several of her teammates await their fate, Irish freshman Vida Imani finished fourth in the 300 hurdles and will eagerly watch other regional results before learning if she’ll advance.
Catholic automatically qualified its relays in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800.