As a senior, Charleston Catholic’s Philip Mallory plans to finish his high school athletic career with a high note at this weekend’s track and field state championships, but the events in which he will participate remain unknown.
Mallory, a multi-sport athlete who also ran cross country and played soccer, qualified individually for the Class A state meet in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, 400, 800 and pole vault, and Irish coach Scott Welch would also like to use Mallory on the team’s 4x400 and 4x800 relays. The problem: athletes may only compete in four events, in any combination of individual events or relays.
With so many mays to help fourth-ranked Catholic, the decision on which exact events Mallory enters will be left to Welch, and it may be a last-minute call.
“We can literally wait until 12 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. on race day, and that may end up what we might do,” Welch said. “We’ve discussed it some. We still haven’t really come to an absolute decision. We do want him to run one of the relays, whether it’s the 4x400 or the 4x800.”
Another certainty, it seems, will be Mallory’s inclusion in the pole vault, as Mallory ranks second in the state, according to www.runwv.com. He also ranks second in the 400, while third in both the 300 hurdles and 800.
“I’m definitely going to do pole vault,” Mallory said, “because I think that’s one of the most fun events that there is in track.”
At the Class A Region 4 championship, Mallory tied for third in the pole vault. Mallory finished second in the 300 hurdles, 400 and 800. He did not run with Catholic’s 4x400 and 4x800 relays at the regional meet, but has ran with each relay this season. Welch may insert the speedy Mallory into one or both of the relays, as meet rules allow, in order to give the Irish their best chance at state titles in the respective events.
By leaving the decision to Welch, Mallory said he can focus on being his best, no matter the event in which he’s called upon to compete.
“It definitely takes some of my stress off,” Mallory said. “He doesn’t really know what he’s going to do with me quite yet.
“There’s so many different ways you could have me run. You could have me run both relays or some of the relays. I could run all opens. I could be in one of the relays. He’s not going to tell me until maybe Thursday or Friday.”
Whether it’s hurdles, relays or running an open 400 or 800, Welch said Mallory’s “smooth” running style gives him the ability to succeed in each of his events.
“He’s absolutely coordinated,” Welch said. “In everything he does, there’s not a lot of hitch to it. There’s not a lot of jerkiness.
“He’s so skilled and he can shift up and down from distances. I think I could probably put him in the mile and he would be very, very strong in the mile, too, but that would take some training.”
While Welch didn’t test Mallory’s effort in the mile, the Irish coach inserted Mallory into the open 800 at regionals for just the first time, knowing Mallory would perform well.
“He’s run 4x800 a few times during the course of the year, and we knew that he had topped 2:03 at one point,” Welch said. “I put him deliberately one time in the first leg and that’s when he ran 2:03.”
Mallory said though he didn’t have any experience running the open 800, he trusted in his coach to make the right decision for him.
“He did all this work trying to figure things out,” Mallory said of Welch, “and he found out we could still qualify in the 4x400 and 4x800 without me, so he went ahead and gave me the go on the 800.
“That was pretty stressful. I had never started an 800 at all. It was a lot different than my other events. I’m always starting in blocks.”
His inexperience or lack of familiarity in the event didn’t show, though, as Mallory finished second in the open 800 at the regional meet.
When it comes to Mallory’s goals for the state meet, he keeps it pretty simple.
“I’m hoping to place in all my events really,” he said. “If I can at least do that, I would be more than happy.”
What remains to be answered though: in which four events will Mallory be seeking to score?