CHARLESTON, W.Va. — How sweet it is … for a steadily-growing program.
The Wahama track and field teams will have 16 total athletes competing in 18 Class A events this Friday and Saturday at the 2017 WVSSAC championships being held at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston in Kanawha County.
The White Falcons and Lady Falcons have both improved on their state qualifying numbers from a year ago, when the Red and White collectively sent 14 athletes in 15 events en route to a handful of podium (top-six) performances.
WHS will also enter its final weekend of the 2017 campaign with an experienced group as 10 of the 16 state qualifiers competed at Laidley Field just last spring.
The White Falcons have higher overall prospects this weekend after landing 11 different participants in 14 events, which includes all five relays at the state competition. Seven of those 11 athletes are also making a return trip to the Mountain State capital.
Wahama will have its work cut out if it hopes to land a single state title or — for that matter — multiple podium finishes, at least based on last week’s regional qualifying results throughout the state. The White Falcons enter the weekend with only four of the top-10 qualifying marks in their 14 events.
On paper, Wahama’s best overall shot for a podium finish comes from senior Wyatt Edwards in the discus event. Edwards enters Saturday’s final with the fourth-best qualifying throw at 137 feet, 4 inches.
The quartet of seniors Mason Hildreth and James McCormick, junior Isaiah Pauley, and sophomore Jacob Lloyd enter the 4x800m relay with the eighth-fastest time (8:52.16) in the event.
Sophomore Brodee Howard owns the ninth-best time in the 110m hurdles (17.16) and Hildreth is also 10th overall in the 3200m run (10:52.70).
Wahama’s remaining events are where the real challenge will unfold as all 10 competitions are in the last five spots of qualifying.
Howard, Edwards, Lloyd and junior Johnnie Board own the 12th-best time in the 4x110m shuttle hurdles relay (1:07.07), while senior Travis Kearns also heads into the 800m run with the 12th-fastest qualifying time of 2:09.29.
Lloyd, Board, sophomore Brady Bumgarner and freshman Abram Pauley own the 13th-fastest time in the 4x200m relay (1:38.62), while junior Christopher Hesson also has the 13th-best mark in the shot put at 41 feet, 1.5 inches.
Bumgarner enters both the 100m (11.92) and 200m (24.39) events with the 15th-best times, while Kearns is also 15th overall headed into the long jump (18-1.75) contest.
The 4x100m squad of Howard, Kearns, Bumgarner and Abram Pauley enter the weekend 15th in qualifying at 47.33 seconds. Lloyd, McCormick, Edwards and Abram Pauley have the slowest qualifying time in the 4x400m relay at 3:51.85.
Board will also compete in the pole vault (8-0) competition and has one of the lower qualifying heights in the field.
The Lady Falcons have only five athletes participating in four events, but the Red and White also have three athletes making a return trip to Laidley Field.
The quartet of juniors Elizabeth Mullins and Kaleigh Stewart, sophomore Skylar Riffle and freshman MacKenzie Barr enter the 4x100m relay event with the 10th-fastest qualifying time of 55.03 seconds. Stewart also owns the 10th-best mark headed into the long jump final (15-0.5) on Friday.
Barr will be competing in the pole vault (7-0) competition and has one of the lower qualifying heights in the field. Junior Pia Thomanek also has the slowest qualifying time in the 3200m run at 14:19.28.
The 2017 WVSSAC track and field championships start at 2 p.m. Friday and will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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