CHARLESTON-If you look up the definition of team, it would not be surprising if you see the words "Ritchie County boys track team".
The Rebels made it two-in-a-row Saturday by capturing a 67-50 victory over runnerup Roane County at the 99th West Virginia Boys Track and Field Championship at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.
"This may sound funny, but we're still tweaking this team," said Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught. "We started finding out what we could do at the LKC, then we found out some more things about our team at the regional.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Ritchie County’s Jayden Allender, left, and Roane County’s Tyler Lee, right, compete Saturday at the Class AA state track meet in the 110 meter hurdles.
"But, we really came together this weekend."
Came together is right.
Leading 51-31 over Little Kanawha Conference rival Roane County after the break, senior Jessie Hilvers' third place finish in the 800 meter run pushed the Rebels' lead to 23 with two events remaining and all but secured the Ellenboro-based school's title.
"We don't have a kid in the 200, but our 4 by 400 is running real well, so I like our chances," said Haught.
And, the veteran head coach had every right to be confident at the Rebels held a 65-46 lead over Region I foe Weir with Bridgeport (42), Roane County (40) and Fairmont Senior (40).
The Rebels had only one first place over the two-day event-Austin Garrett's victory in the pole vault-but the Region I champion received a third and fourth place, respectively, from Hilvers (41.14) and Jayden Allender (41.51) in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles.
"All season long this team revolved around the efforts of (Jessie) Hilvers, (Johnny) Hogue, and (Jayden) Allender," continued the coach. "But, we also got some big efforts from Austin (Garrett) and several of our younger kids."
The Raiders of head coach John Gray came away with three firsts as Troy Fisher captured the 400 meter dash (51.08) and the 4 by 400 and shuttle hurdle relays both crossed the finish line ahead of the pack.
Things started with a bang for the Roane Countians on Friday night when the foursome of J.C. Nichols, Ryan Bates, Kyle Raines and Tyler Lee combined to post a winning time of 59.93 seconds to set a new school mark in the event and capture the Class AA title.
"I really can't remember," said Gray when asked when the last time Roane County had won a state title. "I think it was sometime in the mid-2000s, around 2005 in the shot put or discus.
"It's been a while, that's all I know."
The Raiders' success continued with Saturday's first running event-the 400 meter dash-as Fisher, a sophomore, held off Weir's Cole Slates and Ritchie's Jessie Hilvers to win with a time of 51.08 seconds, and ended with its final race-the 4 by 400 meter relay-as Fisher teamed up with Raines, Nichols and Steven McGinnis to capture that event with a time of 3:32.74.