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BUCKNER - Competing Thursday in the Sundown Invitational at Oldham County High School, the North Bullitt and Bullitt East track programs ran into some of the top teams in the area in the final ‘big’ meet before the local teams focus on the All-Bullitt County Track and Field Championships and then the post-season.
In a meet that included Male, Eastern and all three Oldham County schools, as well as Jeffersonville and Floyd Central from Indiana, this meet was loaded with top talent. Many of the events on Thursday were more competitive than the upcoming Class AA regional meet on Tuesday, May 17, that will be held at Christian Academy and will qualify local athletes for the Kentucky State Championships the following Thursday at the University of Louisville.
The only win on Thursday for the local athletes was an overpowering performance by North Bullitt freshman Chelsey Slayton in the Girls’ 800-meter run.
The defending Class AA state champion broke quickly at the start and never looked back in posting her best time of the spring by more than five seconds. Slayton pulled away from the pack on the first turn and then sent a message to the rest of the state that she is ready to repeat that state title. The winning time was 2:22.03, just fractions over her school record time of 2:21.35 set in last year’s state meet.
Another local athlete who is at the top of his event is Bullitt East junior Trevor Troutman who was second in the discus a year ago at the state championships.
Already this season, Troutman has surpassed the 156-02 throw he had in the state meet a number of times and he did that again on Thursday, going 158-02, just off his season best of 159-03.
A year ago, Troutman won this meet at 149. He threw nine feet further this year, but finished second as Floyd Central’s Codie Hamsley won at 168-02. Five competitors in this field went over 151.
Among the regional throwers in the field, none threw over 131-02. Bullitt East teammate Andrew Okruch finished eighth at 130-05.
Troutman also finished seventh in the shot put at 44-07 while Okruch was 12th at 39-04. North Bullitt’s Travis Downing had his best throw of the season at 38-feet and finished 15th.
There were a number of other athletes that turned in strong performances that indicate that they are peaking for a big finish to the season.
North Bullitt senior Helen Heines, the 2008 State Champion at 1,600-meters, had her best run of the season in her specialty, finishing fifth in 5:41.51. Oldham County’s Margaret Grogan had the field covered in this race, winning by 18 seconds. Heines led the pack trailing Grogan before she was passed on the final straight.
Bullitt East junior Jacob Duvall has been one of the top hurdlers in the state all season and he was in a strong field in the 110-meter race. Duvall has run a 15.49 this spring, but he stumbled over the last hurdle and finished fourth in 15.81 on Thursday.
Still, Duvall’s effort was by far the best of the Class AA runners. In fact, North Bullitt’s Chris Pate was the next Class AA runner to cross the line, finishing eighth in 16.80. The only Kentuckian to beat Duvall was Male’s Darian Moss in 15.77.
Duvall and Pate also competed in the 300-meter hurdles. Duvall finished sixth in 42.61 while Pate was seventh in 42.65. (While the times were close, the two competed in different heats). North Oldham’s Zach Evans won the race in 38.97, but the next Class AA runners were two seconds behind the Bullitt County pair.
North Bullitt sophomore Erin Downs is in her first season of track and field, but she is quickly making a name for herself in the shot put. Already this season she is the second ranked thrower in the Region and she finished fourth on Thursday with her best throw yet this spring of 32-03.
In the sprint races, North Bullitt got big efforts from junior Cody Hodge and senior Isaac McLean.
In the 100-meter dash, there was a loaded field led by Trinity’s James Quick, one of the state’s top football players. He won the race in 10.93 while Hodge was sixth in 11.24 and McLean eighth in 11.42.
Hodge then came back two hours later and had an even better performance, finishing third in the 200-meter dash in a time of 22.68, his fastest time this season and just off Quick’s winning time of 21.60.
Hodge and McLean are also part of North Bullitt’s two sprint relay squads along with Nick Crisp and Keith Miller. That group finished fifth in the 400-meter relay.
For some reason, this major meet did not include the 800-meter relay.
Another North Bullitt athlete who had a strong outing on Thursday was Lady Eagle junior Alexa Hughes who had her best run of the season at 400-meters, finishing fourth in 1:05.66. Hughes was also seventh in the 200-meter dash just ahead of teammate Elizabeth Grau who was tenth.
The best finish for a Bullitt East girl was turned in by senior Lynsey Milburn who was fourth in the triple jump with an effort of 32-02.75. She will be one of the regional favorites in that event. Milburn was also sixth in the high jump and finished ninth in the long jump.
Bullitt East’s Hannah Link finished seventh in the 400-meter race in 1:07.40.
Other top ten finishers on the girls’ side included the North Bullitt 400-meter relay team of Grau, Torrie Lloyd, Caitlin Montgomery and Hughes finishing eighth while North Bullitt’s Alysha Jacobs was ninth in the 300-meter hurdles. Bullitt East freshman Jessica Prell was ninth in the 3,200-meter run while the North Bullitt 1,600-meter relay team of Grau, Hughes, Slayton and Gentry Collins was sixth.
In the field events, North Bullitt’s Carla Willhite was tenth in the discus while in the triple jump Montgomery was tenth and she was also eighth in the high jump.
Boys that turned in top ten finishes on Thursday included junior Michael Dowell who was ninth in the 1,600-meter run in a time of 4:44.05 and he was also ninth in the 800-meter run in 2:08.84. The Bullitt East 400-meter relay team of Steffen Branham, Tyler Cowgell, Justin Jacobson and Tevin Smith was tenth in 48.00. In the boys’ 400-meter dash, North Bullitt’s Miller was eighth in 53.33 just ahead of teammate Patrick Egnor who was ninth in 53.50. The North Bullitt 1,600-meter relay team of Dowell, Egnor, Miller and Pate was tenth in 3:40.71.