B-U girls to begin title quest

CHARLESTON – No matter the outcome of this weekend’s state track meet, the seniors on the Buckhannon-Upshur girls squad have cemented a place in the school’s history books.

As freshmen in 2010, a group of seniors on this year’s roster won the first of two straight Class AAA state titles. B-U finished runner-up in 2012, edged by Morgantown, which stands in the way once again in the Bucs’ title quest.

“It seems just like yesterday I was a freshman competing in the state meet,” said Mercedes Dowell, who makes her fourth and final appearance in Charleston this weekend. “There wasn’t a whole lot of pressure back then to do well.

“But as a junior or senior, the pressure is there because everyone knows who you are.”

Dowell, who signed with Marshall on Thursday, will compete in the discus and shot put at the two-day meet, which begins this afternoon at Laidley Field.

She has finished in the top 10 at every state meet. Dowell’s main competition as a freshman and sophomore was from teammate Karissa Knabenshue, and once again in 2013, a fellow Buc – Mackenzie Leigh -is one of the favorites in both the discus and shot put.

“We both just want to win a state title,” Dowell said of competing against Leigh. “Whatever is best for the team is what we want.”

Megan Wilfong also gives the team a contender in the shot put.

The state meet also ends the prep career of B-U’s Emily Godwin, who will go down as one of the best track performers not only in school history but at the state level.

Godwin, who has signed to run at North Carolina, has accumulated nine state titles during her career. She has state records in both the 100 hurdles (14.6) and 300 hurdles (44.23).

Godwin and Wesleyan signee Lauren Cvechko, who were part of B-U’s winning and state-record shuttle hurdle relay team as freshmen, will battle one another for top honors in the 100 and 300 hurdles, along with teammate Courtney Reed.

Godwin also is the frontrunner in the high and long jump, while Cvechko is a contender in the long jump.

The Bucs’ shuttle hurdle relay team, comprised of Hannah Stankus, Katy Riley, Reed and Cvechko, had the top regional qualifying time, nearly one second ahead of the field.

Riley also will compete in the pole vault.

Washington, Winfield and Jefferson are other teams to watch in the title chase.

The state meet will begin at 2 p.m. today.