Soaring to new heights

While the Buckhannon-Upshur girls gun for their third Class AAA title in four years, an abundance of other area athletes also will be on hand at the state track meet scheduled to begin Friday at Charleston’s Laidley Field.

A total of 31 participants, representing 11 area schools, will compete in individual events for the boys, while 37 girls are entered.

“The area will be well-represented in Charleston,” Elkins girls coach Scott Biola said. “I’m really impressed with the number of athletes Tucker County will send. They have a lot of kids out for their program and they’re doing a great job over there.”

The Mountain Lion boys and girls squads both won regional titles and will have nine boys and 11 girls compete in the two-day event, as well as a combined seven relay teams.

Both Tucker County shuttle hurdle relay teams have the third-fastest qualifying times.

The Mountain Lions’ Tyler Snyder will compete in both hurdle events and the long jump, while Ashley Cassidy is one of the favorites in the 3,200, as her qualifying time is the second fastest among the field.

Aiyana Kachmarek also has the second best distance in the discus, while Olivia Miller finished third in the high jump as last year’s state meet.

Elkins has three girls competing – Kathlyne Simmons in the long jump, and freshman Jontasia Sitton and Ashley Simmons in the shot put.

“I was glad we had three girls qualify,” Biola said. “Of course you would’ve liked to have more but these three girls worked hard to get here.”

Biola praised the work of two of his volunteer assistants – Eric Sandeno and Arab Miller – with their help this season.

“Both of those guys deserve a lot of credit,” he said. “They have helped out in a lot of areas with our kids and I appreciate the efforts they have given me this year.”

Biola added the extra work in the weight room also has helped.

“Evan Hott has worked with our kids building their strength,” Biola said. “That has helped us with our field events.”

The lone qualifier for the Elkins boys is Matt Wallace, who will compete in the 1,600, which is expected to gain a lot of attention with Cabell Midland’s Jacob Burcham attempting to finish under 4 minutes.

Burcham, who has signed with Oklahoma, is a two-time McCoy Award winner, and has captured seven state titles during his career. His fastest time so far this season in the 1,600 is 4:07.41.

“I’m excited Matt qualified for states,” Elkins boys coach Matt Lewis said. “He’s had a very consistent year and brought his personal record in the 1,600 down 20 seconds this season.

“Matt’s definitely looking forward to being part of something historic if the (1,600) race plays out as anticipated.”

Philip Barbour’s top qualifier is Brianna Waybright in the 3,200.

She has the third fastest time entering the race. The Colts’ Quentin Mouser, meanwhile, will compete in three different events -the 110 hurdles and the high and long jumps.

Tygarts Valley will be represented by Hannah Currence in the long jump and Jared Wegman in the 110 hurdles.

B-U’s Isaac Johnson is a contender in the shot put, while Lewis County’s Dustin Martin and the Bucs’ Seth Cutright are expected to challenge in the 300 hurdles.

The state meet will get underway at 2 p.m. Friday and conclude on Saturday afternoon.