Injuries and limited numbers have been the story of the spring for the Bracken County and Augusta track and field teams.
Both are preparing for the Class 1A, Region 5 meet in Danville on Saturday, with the hopes of qualifying individuals for the state meet in Lexington.
For the Bracken County boys’ team, an injury to Kaleb Darnell during the Bourbon County High School Colonel Relays on April 21 set back the hopes for a team title or runner up finish. Darnell had excelled in jumping events at early season meets.
“With the setbacks we had with Kaleb Darnell being injured – we had a strong shot at second – with him out, our course of action changed and we are switching our focus to placing individuals to qualify for state,” said Bracken County coach Forrest Hunt.
The top two finishers in each event in each region automatically qualify for the state meet. After that, the next 10 best finishers in each event in each class earn an at-large bid, regardless of region.
The distance runners garner most of the attention around Bracken County, but Trey Deaton has also put together a solid chance a making it to the state meet in the 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump. He’s also entered in the 100-meter dash and seeded sixth, but could pull out of the event depending on how he’s feeling. The senior signed to Mount St. Joseph for football came up hobbling after running the event at the Buffalo Trace Conference Meet on May 1.
“He says he’s feeling good. We’re kind of gauging it day-by-day. He’s entered in four events, but potential he may drop the 100-meter dash because he’s got a strong shot at going to state in the 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump,” said Hunt. “He’s seeded outside of the top two in the 100, so if we drop one, that’ll be the one that goes.”
Deaton is seeded second in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 45 seconds. The third seed – Burgin’s Daylan Hodges – had a time of 48.6 seconds, while top seeded Gabe McKnight of Danville is seeded first with a time of 41.42.
“Based off the times right now, his seed time of 45 puts him in second pretty easily,” said Hunt. “Most are around 47 or 48, so if he hits that mark or better, that pretty much locks up second place for him.”
Deaton is seeded second in the long jump and triple jump as well. He’s behind Danville’s Jaleel Warren in both. Hunt believes a mark of over 19 feet in the long jump and 38 feet in the triple jump will give him a shot at state.
Payton Tully is currently seeded third in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 18.59, and Hunt believes he’s got a good chance at qualifying as an eighth grader.
In the first event for the boys – the 4×800-meter relay – the Polar Bears earned the top seed, but Hunt is prepared for Lexington Christian to surpass their seed time.
“I kind of look at that loosely. LCA is notorious for not putting their best team out throughout the season,” said Hunt. “I look at the top 800 times. We could be in a pretty good matchup with them.”
Saturday’s weather is also a concern for Hunt when it comes to his distance runners.
“They’re calling for 88 degrees,” said Hunt. “Danville’s track sits in a bowl. It’s a legitimate concern.
“It’s a pretty demanding thing. We think if we put our best 4×8 team, we think can medal at state. It may also cost us one or two from qualifying as individuals that may have had chance.”
His 4×800-meter relay team is full of athletes running other events, including Jared Jefferson and Brandon Cox in the 3,200-meter run. Jefferson earned a top seed with a time of 9:44.94, about four seconds better than Lexington Christian’s Adam Wier. Cox is seeded fourth behind Jefferson, Wier and Lexington Christian’s Connor Hayes.
“Jared has his strategy right now, which may change depending on how the race starts to flow. He may blow past and Brandon may stay on their shoulders and work the last part of the race,” said Hunt. “I feel confident with Brandon getting an at-large bid in the event.”
Daniel Simons is seeded fourth in the 800-meter run, while Collin Jefferson and Nicholas Cummins are seeded fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 1,600-meter run. Both Jefferson and Cummins are hoping to break the five-minute mark. Jefferson’s seed time is 5:02.57, while Cummins’ is 5:04.42. Only five have done it in Bracken County history, according to Hunt.
The Polar Bears’ 4×200-meter relay team is seeded seventh, the 4×100-meter relay team is seeded ninth and the 4×400-meter relay team is seeded fifth.
On the girls’ side, Natalie Bell is seeded fourth in the shot put with a throw of 27-00.50, and Hunt believes she has the best chance among the Lady Bears to land a spot at the state meet. Paris’ Riah Oliver is seeded second with a throw of 29-02.75.
Augusta will have seven total competing at the Class 1A, Region 5 meet, which means they’ll be aiming for individual accomplishments.
“Unless you have a whole bunch of all stars, it would be hard to get team hardware with just seven,” said Augusta coach Tim Litteral. “It gives them an opportunity to compete, an opportunity to place and get experience.”
Of the seven, five are boys that they’re hoping can get experience which will lead to good things in the future, as none are seniors and three are in middle school.
Jushod Commodore is entered in three events. The seventh grader is seeded seventh in the 100-meter dash, 11th in the 200-meter dash and ninth in the long jump.
“Jushod has a lot of natural ability. He’s just athletic. He’s just a seventh grader and he’s competing in pretty much all the events mostly with high school students – kids that are three or four years older than him,” said Litteral.
The other two middle schoolers are Conner Snapp and John Paul Cordle. Cordle is seeded 20th in the shot put and Litteral is hoping it’s the start of a bright throwing career. Snapp is seeded 13th in the 1,600 and 11th in the 3,200. Snapp’s brother, Camryn, is currently a runner at Campbellsville University.
“Running runs in the family with Camryn. He takes it seriously. I think he’s, from the start of the season to the end, improved his mile time by probably 30 seconds and he’s improved his two mile time by over a minute,” said Litteral. “I think he has a solid future.”
The two oldest on the Panthers are Stephen Cordle and Seth Fouts. The junior Cordle is seeded eighth in the shot put, while Fouts is seeded 17th in the 800-meter run and 16th in the long jump.
Augusta will be bringing two from the girls’ team to the region meet as well – Madilynn Whiteman and Violet Hiles.
Hiles is coming off a first place finish in the 400-meter dash at the Ludlow Invitational and is seeded 11th in the region. She’s also seeded 15th in the 200 and 23rd in the 100. Whiteman is seeded 18th in the 200 and 19th in the 100.
“They’re both seniors, so it’s their final meet. They’ve been around since the program started,” said Litteral. “They helped start the program. I want to see them go out on a high note. The goal there is to go out and set personal bests and hopefully leave this program feeling like they’ve helped accomplish something and helped get the program off the ground.”
The Class 1A, Region 5 meet is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday at Admiral Stadium in Danville.