Four Bluefield High School runners earned repeat trips to the state track meet on Friday — and a wrestler-turned-hurdler won the right to join them.
The Beavers relay team of D.J. Stewart, Montel Leggett, Chevez Burress and Bryan Morris took first place in both the four-by-100-meter and four-by-200 races in Class AA regional competition at Laidley Field in Charleston.
Brandon Eldridge, who won a state wrestling championship for Bluefield earlier this year, qualified for the states by placing second in the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 45.67 seconds.
Stewart and Leggett outran the field in the 100-meter dash to qualify for that individual event at the state meet as well. Stewart was fastest on Friday with a time 11.74 seconds, and Leggett was second in 11.89 seconds.
Morris was fourth in the long jump, leaping 18 feet 7 inches. Depending upon the regional results still to be reported from around the state in Class AA, that may yet qualify him for the state meet as a “wild card” competitor, in addition to the top three from each region.
The quartet’s first-place times in the relays were 46.07 seconds for the 100-meter race and 1 min. 35.11 seconds in the 200-meter event.
The state track and field meet in all three size classifications will be at Laidley Field next weekend. Preliminary rounds are slated for Friday, May 17, with finals taking place the next day.
Bluefield track and field coach Mike Henry said that at Friday’s regionals, “We faced some very high-powered competition, based on the fact that a lot of double-A schools in Mercer, Raleigh, Fayette (counties) all had to participate in triple-A meets throughout the season, because the triple-A schools had track facilities that met the qualifications for competition ... .”
“That’s for sprinting, long-distance and field events,” he said.
He said the five competitors from Bluefield “are some of the most dedicated players I’ve come across since I’ve taught at Bluefield High School in the past four years.”
Asked about what the four returnees learned from last year’s event, he said they suffered from “a little culture shock last year.”
He added, “That previous experience could help these young men. First of all, they’ve been there before. ...
“This year the boys started out the season hungry, and wanted to get back to the championship. That was their goal from the start.
“They knew what it was like to lose. This year, they said, ‘We’re going to win. We’re going to bring home a state championship for you.’ They said that I’ve always shown them hard work and dedication as a coach ... so they wanted to return the favor from a player’s standpoint.”
He said Eldridge participated on the team last year, but did not qualify for the state competition.
When Eldridge learned he would be going this month, Henry said, “He was ecstatic. You could see euphoria written all over that young man. He was very excited, but he was very humble at the same time.”
— Contact Tom Bone at