By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The area will be well represented when the starting gun is fired at the West Virginia High School State Track Meet Friday morning at Charleston’s Laidley Field. Athletes from Bluefield, James Monroe, PikeView and Princeton will be competing in the shadow of the capitol dome to bring home individual and team awards.
In Class AA Bluefield has two runners in the 16-person 100 meter dash. D.J. Stewart and Montel Leggett look to showcase their speed in arguably track and field’s signature event.
"DJ and Motel are two very committed and determined young men when it comes to running track and other sports they participate in,” said BHS track coach Mike Henry. “They train hard and they're very excited when it comes time for track meets. They love to compete and they love competition. The stiffer the competition the better they perform. They are a great asset to our track team."
Leggett and Stewart join fellow Beavers Brian Morris and Chavez Burress to form the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. This will be the second year that the quartet has qualified for the state competition.
"Right now we're coming in with the third best time in the state in the 4x100 and fourth best in the 4x200. However, the competition in those events is going to be stiff because we're going to be running against AAA schools that are now AA — Robert C. Byrd, Fairmont Sr. — who have a larger pool of kids to choose from. The competition is going to be very stiff,” Henry pointed out.
Brandon Eldridge, a state wrestling champion, is running the 300 meter hurdles for the first time and is looking to add to his collection of state titles.
"Brandon ranked second in the 300 meter hurdles at the regional and he didn't start running the event until midway through the season. I trained him how to do it and now he is running in the state meet after starting midseason," Henry said.
The Mavericks of James Monroe have athletes in several events. Jeffrey Lewis is running in the 200 meter and Brian Young in the 400. The Mavericks’ 4x200 relay team will look for gold as will Rasheed Lowe who is competing in the high and long jumps.
PikeView has Hunter Klein in the 400 and Jason Weitzel and Vaughn Campbell in the 800. Weitzel is also running in the 1600 and 3200 and the Panthers’ 4x200, 4x400, 4x800 and 4x110 meter shuttle hurdle teams will all be in action.
For the ladies, Gabrielle Cecil represents Princeton High School in Class AAA and will run in the girls 100 meters. Cecil, throughout the regular track season, continued to improve her 100 meter dash time and did not finish lower than second place. She also was a member of the 4x200 and 4x100 meter relay teams.
In Class AA Kayla Trent of James Monroe will run in the 400 and participate in the high jump. Chloe Meadows will take on the 300 meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay team will attempt to bring home gold.
The Lady Mavericks’ 4x400 relay team will represent JMHS, along with high jumper Mikaila Moran and 3200 runner Lauren Clarkson.
PikeView will have Katelyn Odle, Laura Hill and Sophie Klein in the 800. Odle, Hill and Lauryn Hatfield will line up in the 1600. Odle and Klein will try test their skills in the 3200.
Lady Panther relay teams will run in the 4x200, 4x800 and 4x102.5 shuttle hurdles and Jasmine Johnson will throw the discuss and compete in shot put.
The state track meet will conclude on Saturday.