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Williamstown girls lead pack ahead of state meet

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Williamstown’s Ella Hesson prepares to run during last week’s regional championship meet in St. Marys.

CHARLESTON — The Williamstown Yellowjackets are back with a usual goal in mind: win another state championship. When head coach Zach Hall’s girls make the trip to Charleston, high expectations will be just another part of the journey. The decorated upperclassmen look to end their high school days on a high note, as it’s a matter of picking up where they left off in 2019.

“The predictions came out last night, and we’re predicted to finish first, but we haven’t run a race yet,” Hall said during a team practice on Tuesday. “So who knows? The first event, we could possibly place three people in it. That’s a good start to the day. The first two events, the 400 and 3200, we should score quite a bunch of points right off the bat.”

Hall has a good reason to believe that statement. Ella McMullen continued her aspirations of capturing more statewide gold with a win at the Region I meet in the 400.

Teammates Camryn Irvin and Brookelyn Reynolds qualified with her, while St. Marys’ Erica Davis spoiled the Yellowjacket podium by finishing third.

Also grabbing at-large bids in the event alongside Reynolds were Ritchie County’s Emily Griffin and Wood County Christian’s Lacey Dimit. Resident record-breaker Ella Hesson is favored in the 3200, as teammate Brianna Winsett finished in second. In the crowded local field, it was SMHS’s Virginia Haddox who took the third and final spot from Region I. The 100 saw WHS’s Reynolds edge Tyler Consolidated’s Jocelyn Foltz for the top spot, Magnolia’s Jaci Rohde clinched her spot in third, while Bralynn Davis of St. Marys received an at-large bid. St. Marys’ Davis kept up with her good showing at the regional meet, and her split-second win in the 200 over Irvin solidified the fact. McMullen, Foltz, Reynolds and Davis all qualified for their respective schools. Every at-large bid was claimed in Region I. Coming off a blistering pace in the 800, WHS’s Hesson bested other local qualifiers in the event. They were Dimit, teammates Reagan Ortiz and Winsett, and the final girl in was Ritchie’s Soffi Bee. The potential for more Yellowjacket winning is apparent in the 1600. A 25-second victory by Hesson in the region sets her up for big success, while St. Marys’ Virginia Haddox came in third. That was ahead of WCC’s Dimit and a pair of ‘Jackets in Ortiz and Winsett. The pace picks up in the 100 hurdles, as Parkersburg Catholic’s Aaliyah Brunny battles against potential high-point winner and Ritchie junior, Olivia Cress. Brunny topped Cress in the regional with RCHS sophomore Marissa Scott finishing third.

Cress and Brunny traded places in the 300 hurdles with Cress coming out ahead. Ritchie’s Presley Johnson had a podium finish, while Alexis Hashman of St. Marys got an at-large bid. The 4×100 relay sees plenty of local intrigue. Williamstown’s Irvin, Emma Berman, Jalie Henthorne and McMullen lead the way, and the Tyler Consolidated team of Makayla Haught, Caitlyn Northcraft, Victoria Yost and Foltz will be in the mix. Earning at-large bids were Magnolia (Kalleigh Beisel, Julia Lilze, Bre Herrick and Rohde) and Ritchie (Scott, Emily Griffin, Catherine Jones and Ivy Hogue).

WHS’s relay dominance continued in the 4×200, 400 and 800.Henthorne, Berman, Tori Combs and Irvin came out ahead of Ritchie’s Jones, Scott, Johnson and Griffin for the top spot. Magnolia’s Lilze, Kaylee Cline, Herrick and Rohde finished third, and getting an at-large bid was the TCHS team of Roberts, Makenzie Hakes, Yost and Trinity Kanz. Combs, Berman, McMullen and Reynolds took care of business in the 4×400 with a win over the SMHS’s Erica and Bralynn Davis, Kierstyn Brookover and Haddox. Ritchie’s Jones, Sullivan, Andrea Davis and Bee qualified just ahead of fifth-place qualifiers from Magnolia (Shynecka Simmons, Mikalyn Renner, Kaylee Cline and Herrick). The result was similar in the 4×800 with Combs, Ortiz, Winsett and Hesson over St Marys’ Erica and Bralynn Davis, Caraline Lancaster and Sophie Greenleaf. Ritchie’s Sullivan, Chesnee Williams, Davis and Bee qualified at-large, and the same is said for Magnolia’s Renner, Myranda Moore, Emma Spitzer and Abby Clegg.

In the 4×102.5 shuttle hurdles, Ritchie’s Johnson, Hogue, Griffin and Scott narrowly defeated the Magnolia squad of Lenecia Grimm, Shaela Holliday, Spitzer, and Reese Hale. The high jump sees the return of Cress, as she won the event in regional competition over Rebel teammate, Zoe Butcher. Brunny finished third, while Ritchie’s Gabby Jones finished with a higher jump than at-large qualifiers, Kanz and Northcraft (Tyler Consolidated). Also qualifying was Magnolia’s Lauren Gaiser.

Williamstown’s Berman claimed victory in Region I’s pole vault ahead of teammate, Madelyn Anderson. A pair of Rebels in Sydney Kopshina and Madeline Hilver were right behind her, and the regions last qualifier in the pole vault was Magnolia’s Lilze. Cress and Brunny continued going head-to-head, as Cress got the better of the Crusaderette senior in the long jump. Magnolia’s Rohde was third, while TCHS’s Foltz and Ritchie County’s Jones also made it. Magnolia has one last ace in the hole with Mady Winters. She collected wins in the shot put and discus, and the rest of the field to make it out of Region I will be gunning for her. Shot put thrower and Williamstown junior Emme Stull made it alongside Ritchie’s Hilvers and St. Marys’ Lilly Hamilton. Coach Hall said he believes some of his throwers could “steal points” in their respective events, as Maggie Siley also qualified in the discus. A duo of Rebels (Larissa McDonald and Hilvers) punched their tickets, and Sydney Deaton of Tyler Consolidated also qualified in the event.

While the bulk of the local competitors come from Region I, Doddridge County’s girls made like their male counterparts and cruised to victory in Region II. Plenty of qualifiers from DCHS made an impact during the meet. Lexie Lamb kicked off the winning ways in the 800, and she followed it up with the same result in the 1600. Also qualifying in the 1600 was teammate, Maria Bee. A third win for Lamb kept her big day going, as she cruised in the 3200. Emily Gola and Bee were the other Bulldog qualifiers. Then it was Abby McDonough’s turn to shine with wins in the 100 and 300 hurdles races. Molley Ezell also made it to Charleston in the 300 hurdles. Doddridge’s Carrie Lloyd, Nora Sias, Samara Mitchell and Audrey Smith got an at-large bid in the 4×100 relay which already has a large local field. The rest of the DCHS relays shined, as Ezell, Lloyd, Sias and Faith Galagar posted a top time in the 4×200. Smith, Lloyd, Ezell and Galagar got the job done with a second-place showing in the 4×400. The 4×800 saw Smith, Gola, Bee and Lamb victorious, as well.

The team of Ezell, Lloyd, Galagar and McDonough qualified third in the 4×102.5 shuttle hurdle relay, and that wasn’t it for Galagar. She notched another third in the long jump to qualify in that event. McDonough won the pole vault and goes to Charleston with teammates Sias and Cloe Tallman, as a result. Ashlyn Ross made the most of her opportunity with a pair of runner-up finishes in the shot put and discus. Teammate Haley Lynch qualified in the discus by finishing third.

Region IV saw its fair share of contenders move on to the Capitol. First off, Savannah Cunningham started off with a bang for Calhoun County. A trio of wins in the 100, 400 and 800 guaranteed her a busy day at the state meet. Ravenswood’s Maci Mosser capped off her freshman year with a second-place finish in that 800 race, qualifying for the state meet. She wasn’t the only Red Devil freshman to make it, since Lauren Raynes did it in the 300 hurdles by finishing third. The two continued their big regional by qualifying in the 4×200 with Haley Ward and Morgan Smith. Then, the same team of four Red Devils won the 4×400. Calhoun’s Cunningham resumed her dominant stretch by teaming with Cassie Fowler, Lacy Hicks and Grace Vincent to win the 4×800. Wirt County’s team of Shaylie Allen, Brooklyn Rood, Audrey Bevel and Lillian Murphy qualified in the event by ending up in second.

Ward, Mosser and Raynes of Ravenswood finished in third with teammate Ciara Hines in the 4×102.5 shuttle hurdle, and that capped off a big day for a young RHS squad. The shot put saw Wirt’s Shelby Simonton win over third-place qualifier, Kiley Richards. Richards was the only qualifier from Gilmer County, and she made the most of her opportunity with a third in the discus. As for Simonton, she finished just in front of Richards in second.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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