Ritchie youth wins Hershey’s title

PARKERSBURG – For the first time since 2010, an athlete from the Mid-Ohio Valley was an individual event winner at the Hershey’s Track and Field North American Final Meet.

Ritchie County’s Gus Morrison launched a winning effort of 146 feet and 10 inches to win the 9-10 year-old softball throw at Saturday’s 37th annual event, which was conducted at Henry Hershey Field on the Milton Henry School campus in Hershey, Pa.

“We practiced yesterday and today. I did it on my first throw,” Morrison said late Saturday evening. “We threw at 10:15 a.m., and I didn’t know if I would (win) or not. I was hoping.”

Morrison, who will be in fifth grade at Harrisville Elementary, said he also had efforts of 143 and 144 feet, respectively, on his trio of attempts

“The closest (to me) was 143-10. I got to meet (Olympians) Carl Lewis and Rafer Johnson. I got my picture taken with Carl Lewis,” added Morrison, who like the other 450-plus youth was able to spend time on their trip at both Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

The longest personal best throw for Morrison, who will be playing football for the Ritchie County youth league ‘A’ team, was 147 feet. He won the state meet last month at Cabell Midland by throwing 139 feet.

Before Morrison’s victory on Saturday morning, the last athlete from the area to win first place was Parkersburg South student-athlete Katelyn Byrd, who captured the 11-12 softball throw with a heave of 154 feet and 6 inches.

Two other area athletes, both from Wood County, qualified for the North American Final and had more than solid showings. Williamston Elementary’s Annmarie Uhl (9-10 standing long jump) finished fourth while Gihon Elementary’s Brionna Patterson finished seventh in the 11-12 softball throw.