Ready for AAA meet

PHS, South, Ripley eye success at state track

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Ripley High School’s Ridge Dalrymple is expected to compete for Class AAA high-point scoring honors at the state track meet, which begins this afternoon at the University of Charleston Stadium.

PARKERSBURG — While Parkersburg High is striving to finish in the Class AAA top-five team standings in both boys and girls at the state track meet at Laidley Field today and Saturday, Parkersburg South too will be contending at state to see how well the Patriots can fare against the Mountain State’s track elite.

For Rod O’Donnell, who has a state title in 2014 as PHS’ boys head coach, “I think this team is ready, but almost every event at state is pretty balanced.”

After RunWV sees the Hedgesville boys winning the AAA crown, then comes Woodrow Wilson with the Big Reds a potential third, “although I hope we finish higher than that,” said O’Donnell.

“But you never know what’s going to happen in a meet,” he added. “And this year, six or eight (points) could be all that separates third (place) from 10th. So your (team’s) going to have to be on be up down there.”

PHS qualified individuals or teams for state in quite a few events, with the following seen faring very well in Charleston: Shot put and discus (Ben McFarland), 4×800 relay (Evan Wooten, Joel Larsen, Benjamin Lake, Will Lemaster), 4×400 relay (Graham Nesselrode, Ethan Airhart, DeShawn Akers, Anthony Bradford); long jump (Airhart), 1600 (Scott Barker, Ian Domenick), 3200 (Barker), 800 (Bradford).

The PHS girls, also vying for a top-five state finish, are led by projected high-point candidate Madison Trippett with her performances this year in the 400, 800 and 3200 as well as Olivia Collett in the 1600 and as the 4×800 anchor after relay teammates Erin Cunningham, Emily Cunningham and Ellie Dario, and Sophie Thompson in the pole vault.

Ripley’s girls figure to be in contention for all the marbles in a duel with Morgantown. Their headliners are individual triple-threat Tori Starcher in the 800, 1600 and 3200, Allison Fields in the 100 and 200, Laurel Miller in the 100 high hurdles and high jump, and the 4×200 and 4×400 relays with Miller at the No. 3 spot in both, Fields the 4×200 anchor and Starcher the 4×400 anchor.

For South, sophomore Abby Herring “has done a great job in the mile,” said Patriot girls head coach Jason Evans. “She’s gotten down to 5:26 and I don’t think there’s any reason she can’t get to the low 5:20s, and that’s probably good enough to place (at state).”

“A real surprise” for Evans “who has a shot at state” has been freshman Emily Yanok in the 300 hurdles. “I think she has a chance to sneak in (and place).”

The South shuttle hurdle team of Yanok, Allie Perkins, Sierra Hays (both sophomores) and frosh Peyton Barton “has a chance to place,” said Evans, and “then in the high jump, that I think is wide open, my two girls (freshman Erin Williams and soph Madi Gersper) both cleared 4-10 in the regional and had good looks at five feet,” said Evans. “So is they can go five down there, I think they can place.”

“So we have quite a few kids who can place (at state),” said Evans, also singling out soph Kat Bowers in the 200 as well as the 4×200 and 4×800 relays, and Williams in the long jump “if she can get anywhere close to 15-9 or 15-10. So we’ve got some opportunities to do some things at state with a lot of kids competing.”

For South boys head coach Doug Jones, “we’ve been very strong in the hurdles this year — the shuttles, 110 and 300,” he said. “We qualified our shuttle team (Dominic Collins, Corey Beverage, Chris Elschlager, Jimmy Kemp), currently posting the third-best time in the state this year at 58 seconds, so we’re hoping to better that.”

Elschlager in the 110 hurdles as well as Kemp and Cameron Gill in the 300 hurdles will be contending against Ripley’s Ridge Dalrymple in both events at state, while Collins is in the high jump too. Elschlager’s third event at state is the long jump while Collins’ third is the 200, with Nate Santiago in the pole vault, “where in practice now, he is working up close to 12 feet,” said Jones.