By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
There’s another chapter being written in the book of accomplishments by the PikeView High School track and field program.
The girls team will go into this week’s state track and field meet with the Region III team trophy, believed to be the first such award won by the girls from Gardner since 1998.
PikeView will send 12 girls and 10 boys to Laidley Field in Charleston for the state meet, which is scheduled to start on Friday.
The top point producers in the Class AA Region III meet last Friday at the same location were PikeView’s Katelyn Odle and Jordan Weitzel, with 32.5 points each. As a team, the PikeView girls garnered 127 points and the boys had 86.
PikeView head coach Angie Hill said about the girls’ accomplishment, “It’s just phenomenal. I’ve worked with so many of those girls since they were in sixth grade, when I started working with the middle school girls. They’ve hung in there with me every year. For those girls to be part of a regional championship means the world to me.”
She said, “As far as I know, Coach Paul Hodges coached the last regional championship. For that gap to be filled in, to win another, feels really good. I know how hard the team worked, and how much work they put into it this season and all the previous seasons.”
She motivated the girls’ team last Wednesday by showing them the lists of who they would face in the regionals, and what the likely finishes would be, based on all the competitors’ times this season.
Her figures showed that PikeView could be projected to finish second, seven points behind Liberty High.
“I talked to them about how close they were to being able to get the regional title,” Hill said. “I asked them if they were willing to put in the effort to come in first, or would they be satisfied with coming in second place.
“We talked about exactly who we needed to beat, what time to run, what score to achieve, to raise our point total to give us a much better chance to come home with the title.
“They were all willing. They were excited; they knew we had a chance going in. It certainly wasn’t a given, but it was a chance. That door was open. We just had to walk through it and make sure we took it.”
They ran through the doorway, placing in 16 of 18 events.
Hill said, “Just about across the board, all of the girls hit PRs (personal records) throughout the day. That’s what you want to see.”
“I had girls that scored points that were unexpected to score points. We had a handful of sixth- and fifth-place points. Without those points, it absolutely wouldn’t have happened for us.”
The top three finishers in each event qualified to compete at the state level, but Hill said about the other girls who contributed, “You could tell by the smile on their faces when regional plaque was handed (to the team), they were just as excited as the girls who’re going to be running in the states next week.”
The girls’ four-by-800-meter relay team ran their season record to 10-0 with a regional victory in a time of 11:48. The team consists of sophomore Lauryn Hatfield, senior Laura Hill, freshman Sophie Klein and Odle — a sophomore in her first season running varsity track.
Angie Hill, who is Laura’s mother, said the unbeaten streak included meets in which the Class AA PikeView team was competing with much bigger schools.
The coach said, “This group of girls in particular have built a great chemistry among themselves. They know each other. They know basically when they get the baton, what they are supposed to do when they get it.
“And they have tried to each find their niche on the team. I heard one of them tell Katelyn, ‘You’re my cleanup girl. You clean up my mess.’ They know when she takes over the baton ... she’ll get the job done.”
“They’ve built a really good rapport and trust among themselves.”
Odle was first in three regional runs, at distances of 3,200 meters, 1,600 meters and 800 meters. Laura Hill finished second in two of those races, and PikeView’s Sophie Klein was second in the longest-distance run.
Jasmine Johnson added a first place in the shot put, with a toss of 31 ft. 8 in.
PikeView quartets also turned in a second place in the shuttle hurdles and a third-place finish in the four-by-200-meter relay.
(See list of finishers, page B-3.)
Jason Weitzel also took first place at the region in three runs, at the same distances that Odle ran, and ran the anchor leg of PikeView’s four-by-800-meter relay team that outran the field in 9:01.
That quartet included Vaughn Campbell, Hunter Klein and Chris McBride — who ran most of his phase of race after losing a shoe.
Klein was second in the 400-meter dash, the shuttle hurdles quartet qualified with a third-place mark, and the four-by-200-meter relay runners reached the state level as a “wild card” due to one of the state’s fastest fourth-place showings.
Angie Hill said about Weitzel, “He’s worked very hard this season. He has many personal goals and puts a lot of weight on his own shoulders about times he wants to run. Every practice, every meet, he puts expectations on himself, and he met those on Friday.”
The job of anchoring the relay team was a natural for Weitzel, and his teammates respect his ability.
“They know he runs our fastest time in any race,” Angie Hill said. “They know if they keep it close, by the time the baton is handed to Jason, he will bring it home and win it at the end for the team.
“They put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in him as that final leg.”
Overall, Hill likes the support the track and field athletes show to each other.
“It’s a great group of kids,” she said. “Even though we’re separate boys and girls teams, we’ve tried to run it all together for the past several years, as one team. They pull for each other, they cheer for each other.
“They see each other in classes throughout the school day and many of them are also teammates on other teams.”
“That’s always great to see when they’re cheering each other on.”
With PikeView’s 10 first-place regional finishes and a host of personal records set last weekend, Angie Hill is looking forward to this week’s state competition.
She said, “Now is the time to peak. If you’re going to peak, this is the time of year to do it.”
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org