Riverside hasn’t been known as a hotbed for hurdlers, but Carson Casto might be changing all that.
The Warriors’ senior is ranked among the top Class AAA boys hurdlers coming into this week’s regional meets in West Virginia, and cemented that status Friday during the Region 3 meet at University of Charleston Stadium.
Casto swept both individual hurdle events with times of 14.87 seconds in the 110-meter highs and 41.75 in the 300 intermediates, helping his team finish as runner-up in the boys team standings to Woodrow Wilson. The Flying Eagles girls also emerged as regional champs, giving their school a sweep of the team titles.
A week ago, Casto caught the attention of track followers around the state when he beat Parkersburg’s Aaron Kupfner in the 110 highs during the Mountain State Athletic Conference meet, 15.30 seconds to 15.69. Kupfner holds the state’s fastest AAA time of 14.65 seconds this season and has been atop the performance charts most of the year. Kupfner had beaten Casto in their only other meeting this season.
“The first meet I ran against him, my start was really bad,’’ Casto said. “I was slow coming out of the blocks, but I still ran under 15. Then the second meet, I got out of the blocks fast and I was neck and neck with him about halfway, then pulled through.’’
Riverside coach Forrest Boggess likes Casto’s chances to win a championship in the high hurdles during the June 11-12 Class AAA state meet. Casto, with a top time of 14.81 seconds, is quite familiar with the track conditions at UC Stadium, with the Region 3 meet marking the fifth time the Warriors have competed there this season.
“I think he’s got a good chance,’’ Boggess said. “He beat Kupfner last week, which is a good indicator that his training is coming the right way. We’ve really worked on his start because I think that’s something we missed out on at the Tudor’s meet, just that development on his starts.
“He’s a really quick learner, and I think he can handle it. I just think it’s going to be who shows up that day.’’
Kupfner competed in the Region 4 meet Friday at Parkersburg South, so their next showdown is scheduled to come in the state meet.
Casto said he was first introduced to the hurdles in the sixth grade when he attended Sherman Junior High School in Boone County, and when he arrived in Kanawha County in the eighth grade and later started at Riverside, his development accelerated under the tutelage of assistant coach Ellen Caruthers, who is now retired.
“I just stuck with a lot of what she said,’’ Casto said, “and with a lot of what other coaches have said, and I’ve been to a few camps, too.’’
Boggess also lauded Caruthers’ contributions to the team’s hurdlers.
“She was absolutely instrumental in giving these kids a good base,’’ he said.
Casto also makes the Warriors a threat to score well in the state meet in the 300 intermediate hurdles and shuttle hurdle relay. He’s one of three athletes in West Virginia to run the 300s in 41 seconds or lower with his top time of 41.00, joining Kupfner (40.35) and Wheeling Park’s Andrew Glass (40.93).
Actually, Casto ran a 40.81 as a sophomore, but hasn’t challenged that this season.
“The 300s were my strong suit my sophomore year,’’ Casto said, “but not really my strong suit this year. I still want to try and get my [personal record], and hopefully I can beat that.’’
Riverside came into the Region 3 meet holding the state’s No. 4 time of 1:01.36 in the shuttles, with Casto joined by Dryden Holstein, Jacob Alderson, Jake Walker and alternate Cameron Lewis. However, behind a rousing anchor leg by Casto, they blew away that time Friday with a clocking of 58.71 seconds, faster than the 59.62 posted by Musselman, which was the top time in AAA before the statewide regionals.
Boggess noted that group had only competed in the shuttles three times before Friday’s Region 3 meet.
“Which is interesting,’’ Boggess said, “because they’ve all worked extremely hard to get where they’re at. But we think the amount of preparation they’ve done to get themselves caught up has just been tremendous. They’re a really close, great bunch of kids. It’s hard to find a better group of kids.’’
Casto was one of three individual repeat winners in the boys meet, joining Woodrow Wilson distance runner Brandon Canaday (1,600, 3,200) and South Charleston sprinter Bruce Williams (100, 200). Williams also ran a season-best 10.88 seconds in the 100 preliminaries.
In the girls meet, there were also three double winners — Capital’s Candace Morris (100, long jump), Woodrow Wilson’s Colette Lindley (1,600, 3,200) and Oak Hill’s Kiya Babkirk (400, 300 hurdles). Morris turned in personal bests of 12.67 in the 100 and 16-21/2 in the long jump. Cougars teammate Sona Magassouba cleared 5-2 in the high jump.
The top three finishers in each regional running event qualify for the state meet, as well as the top three in the shot put, discus and long jump. In addition, the four next-fastest or farthest marks in those events from any of the state’s four regional meets also qualify. In the pole vault and high jump, the top four regional finishers advance, as well as others who meet qualifying standards.