CHARLESTON-Winning isn't easy in any sport.
But the boys from Doddridge County High School have made it look easy at the W.Va State High School Track and Field Championships.
That point was never made even more evident than on Saturday as the green and gold-clad Bulldogs ran past the rest of the Class A field to capture their fourth straight - and sixth since the WVSSAC's decision to go to three classes - state title by a 111-67 margin over runner-up Buffalo.
Photos courtesy of Action Images
Doddridge County’s Sarah Ferguson glides over the final hurdle in the 300 meter low hurdles Saturday at the University of Charleston’s Laidley Field. The Bulldogs senior captured both hurdle races to finish second in the high point individual race with 34 points.
Doddridge County’s Brandon Smith races to the finish line in the 100 meter dash. Smith finished second in the race to lead the Bulldogs’ to their fourth straight Class A title.
"We savor every one of them," Doddridge County head coach Bobby Burnside said. "We don't take any of them lightly. There are ups and downs in every one of these.
"We've had both today. But our kids have done a great job of responding to those downs."
One in particular was senior Zachary Cottrill.
After beginning the final day of competition by being disqualified in the 400-meter dash finals for a false start, the Bulldog senior opened the final session of the meet by winning the 110-meter high hurdles in a time of 15.94 seconds.
"I needed to do something to redeem myself for the 400," Cottrill said. "I was really nervous at the start because of the false start in the 400. I came out of the blocks slow, but I was able to finish strong."
The win propelled the defending champs to a 30-point, 69-39, lead at the time and all but sewed up Doddridge's seventh overall state title.
"It's a combination of things," continued Burnside. "We have a coaching staff that does a great job of working together and we have athletes that don't take the spring off, but come out for track.
"But when all is said and done, it's the kids. They are what makes us tough every year."
Junior Brandon Smith kept things rolling with a second place in the 100-meter dash (11.35), then teamed up with Jarrod Sandy, Brian Nestor and Dyllon Hayes to finish just behind Williamstown in the 4 by 200-meter relay (1:33.38).
Doddridge closed the day with a third-place finish in the 4 by 100, a victory by Dyllon Hayes in the pole vault (13-0) and a third place in the 4 by 400-meter relay.
"Sometimes you have to have a bit of adversity," added the Bulldogs' head coach. "We had that today and we overcame it."
Finishing third in the team race with 57 points was Williamstown while Wirt County was fourth (38) and Gilmer County sixth (32). Other local teams and their finishes included Magnolia (8th, 31), St. Marys (11th, 18.5), Calhoun County (15th, 10) and Paden City (18th, 6).
Accounting for all of Calhoun's points was Ryan Slider, who became the first Red Devil in school history to capture an individual state championship when he cleared 6 feet, 4 inches in the high jump.
"We don't even have a track at school," said Slider. "But they were able to go out and get a high-jump pad this year and it really helped. I just hope this will show others at my school that they can do the same thing."
Other local winners included Wirt County's Glenn McMillan in the 1600-meter run (4:32.11), Magnolia's Jared Kacor in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (41.62), Williamstown's 4 by 100 and 4 by 200-meter relay teams, Gilmer County's Nathan Stout in the shot put and Doddridge's Isaac Britton in the discus.
Cottrill captured the individual high-point award with 24 points.