Across the three classes in both boys and girls, Putnam County schools represented their programs with pride and success at the annual West Virginia high school track and field state championship meet this weekend.
Hurricane’s girls captured the AAA girls team championship, with county rival Winfield placing third. In Class AA, Poca junior Christian Buckley set a meet record in the shot put, while defending his titles in the shot put and discus, and Buffalo’s Jordan Tucker earned wins in the 100-meter dash and 200.
“Everything went perfectly,” Redskins coach Jason Henley said. “The kids did excellently. Last week (winning the Region 4 championship), they had run about the most perfect meet they could run, but they exceeded that today. Just across the board, everybody did so great.”
Hurricane finished with 80 points, as Washington placed second with 56.5 points, and Winfield claimed third with 54 points.
The team championship marked the first for the Hurricane girls since 2008. In many years, the Redskins lead with strength in distance events propelled by a great cross country program directed by Henley and formerly coach Bill Posey. While the distance event participants delivered again at this year’s state meet, the complement of sprints, hurdles and field events led by Abby Watson proved the difference in earning the state title.
“The distance runner piece has always been there, and my kids delivered wonderfully, and Abby out in the field was incredible,” Henley said, “but having that sprint component and that hurdle component put us right where we needed to be. It was a dominant performance on the girls side.”
Watson won the shot put with a state meet record throw of 42 feet, nine inches, placed second in the discus and ran the opening leg of the Redskins’ first-place shuttle hurdle relay team.
In the 800, senior Tori Dent, a Marshall commit, finished second, edging Capital’s Peyton Panger, as each finished behind University standout Millie Paladino. Panger placed second in the 1600, with Dent third, each again behind Paladino. Panger claimed third in the 3200, too.
Redskins junior Audrey Barber, in addition to contributing to the winning shuttle hurdle relay, placed second in both the 100 hurdles and long jump. Hurricane’s Lauren London placed third in the long jump.
In relay events, Hurricane won the 4x800, while Winfield placed second in the 4x100 and 4x200.
Josee Erlandson claimed the state title for Winfield in the 300 hurdles, and several strong performances in the field events also lifted the Generals in the standings. Junior Allie Perry finished second in the pole vault, with Hannah Cartwright and Carly Hinkle placing three-four in the high jump.
Buckley set personal records in both the shot and discus, as he established himself as a back-to-back winner in the events for Poca.
Ranked first in the state throughout the season, spectators and competitors alike expected Buckley to win his throwing events, yet Buckley still found the motivation to push himself to greater heights, including a pair of personal records (PRs).
“Really, it’s just reaching my full potential,” Buckley said. “It definitely feels good. Everything really came together today and luckily I got a couple PRs and a state record to show for it.”
Buckley won the shot with a meet record throw of 59 feet, seven and one-half inches. From his practices tosses, Buckley’s father and Dots throwing coach Dana Buckley said he saw great signs for his son’s upcoming performance.
“He was trying to go for a PR, but once the ball got rolling, he did very well,” Dana Buckley said. “His warmup throws were kind of a telltale to start with. His first warmup throw went 55 feet and then his second was almost to 60.”
Buffalo’s Tucker rounded out the stellar showings from Putnam County’s athletes with individual wins in both the 100 and 200.
“We had started seeing some times about halfway through the season and we thought he was as good as anyone in Class A,” Bison coach Richie Wyant said of Tucker, “but the performance he put on today, it wasn’t close. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind who won. He went out and did a good job.”
In addition to Tucker, Buffalo boasted many more great performances, as the Bison finished second in team standings with 67 points, behind Class A boys champion Doddridge County, which accumulated 111 points.
Buffalo senior Isaiah Robinson finished third in the 800 and fifth in the 1600. Hayden Harrison placed second in the 3200, with a third-place finish in the 1600. In the 110 hurdlers, Gabe Garrison claimed third, with teammate Cody Sheppard sixth. For relay events, the Bison took second in both the 4x800 and shuttle hurdles.