A trio of runners struck three times to complete the distance sweep, winning all three distance events, at this year’s track and field state championship, but none did it better than University senior Millie Paladino.
Bridgeport senior Abe Merinar (boys Class AA), Oak Glen’s Kelsey Chambers (girls AA) and Paladino (girls AAA) captured individual victories in the 800-meter run, 1600 and 3200 respectively. In claiming each of her wins, Paladino set meet records.
Paladino entered the meet as the 3200 record holder and, without a doubt, she would finish with wins in each of her three individual events, though the West Virginia University commit said wining the trio of events marked a great personal achievement.
“It was definitely an accomplishment for me, I would say, because I’ve never done that before at a state meet,” she said. “I was really pleased. I think I kind of have to do something incredible, though, for people to be really amazed, so yeah, I was ecstatic, but I think everybody kind of expected me to win all three of those.”
Paladino broke her own record in the 3200, by 15 seconds, taking the win in 10:25.29. In the 1600, she finished in 4:51.74, more than 4 seconds faster than the previous mark set by Kaylyn Christopher, of Preston, in 2007. Paladino completed the sweep by winning her final event, the 800. Paladino again broke Christopher’s record, this time by 5 seconds, with a run of 2:08.49.
In each of Paladino’s wins, she paced the field as the clear leader, with her closest win in the shortest race, the 800, by 7 seconds ahead of Hurricane’s Tori Dent.
For Chambers, of Oak Glen, she comfortably won the 1600 and 3200 with leads of 6 and 12 seconds respectively, though she held a less than 2-second lead in the 800.
Like Chambers, Merinar won the 800 in a tight finish by edging Roane County’s Troy Fisher by less than a second. In both the 1600 and 3200, Merinar won by 5 seconds ahead of Frankfort’s Lucas Young.
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PARKERSBURG featured two double winners in seniors Chandler Hamilton and Evan Rhodes as each contributed big roles in the Big Reds unseating of four-time AAA boys team champion Jefferson.
Hamilton individually captured victories in the 100 and 200, and he ran the opening leg of Parkersburg’s first-place 4x200 and 4x400 relays, to lead the Big Reds boys to their first team championship since 1965. Rhodes won the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and ran as part of the winning 4x400 and second-place shuttle hurdle relay.
“I think we won seven events,” Parkersburg coach Rod O’Donnell said. “That’s a lot of wins at the state meet and they were part of it. Chandler, on two relays, and the 100 and 200, and Evan was on two relays teams and the (110) hurdles and the 300s.”
Parkersburg finished with 93 points ahead of runner-up Jefferson with 80. For Jefferson, senior Andrew Milliron won the 1600 and 3200, taking third in the 800.
Capital sophomore Tristan Slater defended his state title in the pole vault with a winning height of 14 feet, 6 inches.
Spring Valley junior Jacob Kilgore redeemed himself in the 800, by winning the event with a near 2-second cushion after being disqualified for a false start in the open 400.
Hurricane’s Garrett DeFries placed third in the high jump, with a fourth-place finish in the long jump.
George Washington junior Will Walker placed third in the 300 hurdles, after a disqualification in the 110 hurdles.
Hurricane won its first girls title since 2008, behind a full complement of contributors in distance, sprints and field events.
Redskins senior Abby Watson won the shot put with a state meet record throw of 42 feet, 9 inches, placed second in the discus and ran the opening leg of the Redskins’ first-place shuttle hurdle relay team.
In the 800, Dent, a Marshall commit, finished second, edging Capital’s Peyton Panger, as each finished behind Paladino. Panger placed second in the 1600, with Dent third. Panger also claimed third in the 3200.
Redskins junior Audrey Barber, in addition to contributing to the winning shuttle hurdle relay, placed second in 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 to third in the team standings. Junior Allie Perry finished second in the pole vault, with Hannah Cartwright and Carly Hinkle placing third and fourth respectively in the high jump.
Martinsburg senior Mykera Days won the 100 and 200, edging Washington’s Devyn Mosby in both events, though Mosby captured the win in the 400.
St. Albans junior Anacia Hines won the 100 hurdles, and she also finished third in the 100 and 200.
Poca junior Christian Buckley set a meet record in the shot put, while defending his titles in the shot put and discus. Buckley won the shot with a meet record throw of 59 feet, 7 and one-half inches.
Merinar’s trio of distance wins led Bridgeport past Ritchie County for the team title.
Grafton senior Nathan Bernarde won the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Bernarde also finished second in the 200 and fourth in the high jump.
Jayden Allender, a winner in the high jump from Ritchie County, placed second in the 300 hurdles and third in the 110 hurdles.
Poca’s Hank Larch, Hayden Webb and A.J. Keyes finished third, fourth and fifth respectively in the long jump
Bridgeport sprinter Kayla Haywood, a junior, led her squad to the team championship with individual wins in the 100, 200 and long jump, while freshman teammate McKenna Smith won the 400 and placed second in the 100 and 200. Both runners combined as part of Bridgeport’s winning 4x200.
In the high jump, Herbert Hoover junior Bailey Aab secured the title with a winning leap of 5 feet.
Sissonville senior Grace Montgomery placed third in the 300 hurdles.
Buffalo’s Jordan Tucker captured victories in the 100 and 200 to lead the Bison.
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 the 4x800 and shuttle hurdles.
In between graduating on Friday, Charleston Catholic senior Philip Mallory won the 400, placed second in the pole vault and fifth in the 800. He also ran the anchor leg of Catholic’s first-place 4x800 relay, which unseated three-time defending champion Buffalo.
Charleston Catholic sophomore Payton Mullen earned victories in the 1600 and 3200, and she ran as part of the third-place Irish 4x400 relay, which secured Catholic’s second-place team finish.
By finishing third in the 4x400, the Irish totaled one more point than third-place Tucker County. Williamstown captured the team title.
Catholic finished second, third and fifth in the 800, with strong runs by Lia Preston, Peyton Keener and Quincy McKown. In the 1600, Mullen led a first-, sixth- and seventh-place finish, with McKown and Gacek rounding out the Irish effort. Gacek also placed fifth in the 3200.
Williamstown’s Madelin Gardner won the 200 and 400. Doddridge County senior Sarah Ferguson earned victories in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump, setting a meet record in the former event. Additionally, Ferguson placed fourth in the 200.