Poca’s Chase Dotson didn’t run a relay for the Dots on Friday at the state track meet at Laidley Field, but he certainly passed a baton.
Dotson closed his prep career with wins in the Class AA shot put (53 feet, 6 1/2 inches) and the discus (170-9) for the second straight year, continuing on a tradition of Poca throwing excellence.
Before Dotson’s two-peat in both events, Christian Buckley, now at Louisville, won both events in three consecutive state meets, giving the Dots a five-year stranglehold in the throwing disciplines.
“We practice seven days a week pretty much, you have to practice as much as possible,” Dotson said. “Watch film and spinning a lot. Practice, practice, practice — that’s about the only secret I can think of.”
The future of the program is certainly in good hands as well as freshman Caleb Hartley has beaten Dotson several times this year in the discus. Hartley settled in for second place with a throw of 160-11 in the event on Friday.
“I thought he had me there with a 160, but I was able to collect my thoughts and remember what I did in practice and just get it out there,” Dotson said.
So much of the season is geared toward the state meet, and with his two events coming in succession right at the beginning, one may think Dotson’s two wins were more of a relief than anything, especially after looming as the favorite nearly every week.
But Dotson said he didn’t feel much pressure at all, instead looking at the meet as one last chance to go for broke while representing the Dots.
“There wasn’t a lot of pressure,” Dotson said. “I knew it was my last meet of my high school career and I just had to come out and go after it and do what I’d done all year.”
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While Bridgeport’s McKenna Smith was setting the track on fire in girls sprinting events, South Harrison’s Freddy Canary was doing the same in Class A boys. Canary broke his own state meet records in each the 100 and 200 preliminaries on Friday.
Canary torched his 200 record with a time of 21.5 seconds, beating the mark he set a year ago by \six-tenths of a second. He also came in with a time of 10.81 seconds in the 100, a record and good enough to set the fastest time by six-tenths of a second over Daniel Mullenax of Pendleton County.
But before he’d even taken to the track to start his defense of Class A championships in both of those events, Canary had already claimed an event for the Hawks, winning the long jump despite entering the meet with only the state’s fourth best distance of 20-6.
As it turned out, he’d saved his best for when it mattered most, clearing 21-4 1/2 on Friday.
“That was surprising,” Canary said. “Me and my coach moved my steps back two steps because I wasn’t getting up to full speed. We did that, I got my full speed and I had more confidence in the long jump.”
Canary had a bit of a reality check before his heat in the 100 with a false-start disqualification coming in the heat before his.
Even with breaking his state record time, Canary said an overcautious start may have cost him an even lower time. He said he’d be gunning for a time of 10.6 seconds in Saturday’s final.
“I hesitated because I was scared after that false start,” Canary admitted. “I backed off a little bit. My body was shaking and I was thinking, ‘Wait for the gun, don’t time it.’ ”
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Elsewhere in record-breaking performances, there was Washington’s Lauren Zaglifa, who bested a 13-year-old Class AAA pole vault record with a jump of 12-1, beating a record of 12-even by Capital’s Jennifer Hansen in 2004.
Zaglifa was bested by the Cougars’ Haley Snodgrass last year, but Zaglifa exacted her revenge in a big way this year and hopes her performace got the attention of fans and perhaps some college scouts.
“I know that there are a lot of scouts today and if they want to talk to me, hopefully I showed them something impressive today,” Zaglifa said.
Her best jump of the season entering Friday had been 12-4 and she attempted 12-6, coming up a little short all three times.
But as she crossed the bar on 12-1, she let loose an audible shriek of joy and she said anything after that would’ve been icing on the cake.
“I could see the bar passing me as I went over it and I knew I had it,” Zaglifa said. “At that point I just had to make sure everyone knew.”
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In the Class AAA girls team race, Ripley has emerged from nowhere this season behind some talented youngsters to place itself atop the heap according to runwv.com’s latest power rankings.
But being good through the year and being good at the state meet can be a little different. Ripley, which entered with the best mark in eight individual events, needs wins in most if not all of them to claim team supremacy.
The Vikings responded well as of press time on Friday with Laurel Miller claiming a win in the high jump, Tori Starcher claiming the 3,200 and Allison Fields putting down top qualifying times in both the 100 (12.57 seconds) and 200 (25.5 seconds) to advance to Saturday’s finals.
Starcher and Fields are both freshmen and have been a big part of the Vikings’ swift rise to the top.
But those expectations can loom heavy come state meet time, and Fields admitted to some nerves before her events on Friday.
“For me personally, yes, because as a freshman ranked No. 1 it puts a lot of nerves on me,” Fields said. “I really want my team to do good this year so I’ve got to run as hard as I can and try my best.”
Ripley has never won a girls state track title, and the young Vikings are running with a purpose of putting the community firmly on the map in terms of running.
Getting through Saturday remains a big task, but step one at least went swimmingly on Friday.
“In middle school, Ripley dominated because of me and Tori and hopefully high school stays the same way,” Fields said. “They are definitely rooting for us at our school.”