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LOUISVILLE – It was a good day, but not the great day that Bullitt East and North Bullitt were hoping for on Friday in the Class AA Kentucky State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville.
In the end, competing in the Class AA event for the final time (both programs move up to Class AAA next season), the two teams combined for three runner-up finishes as well as one third, three fourths and a fifth. Bullitt East’s Meghan Roby had two of the runner-up finishes in the sprints while North Bullitt sophomore Bre Stewart was second in the high jump.
With the top eight finishers in each event scoring team points and being awarded medals, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers collected 29 points, which was good for seventh in the team race. The Bullitt East boys collected 14 points and were 18th overall.
North Bullitt had a better day on the girls’ side as they had 12 points, good for 17th out of 44 schools earning points. The Eagle boys scored five points to finish 34th.
A year ago, the Bullitt East Lady Chargers had two girls compete in the state finals and they failed to score a single team point. This year, coach Lenny Raley’s squad was a powerhouse, finishing less than a second out of a top five team finish.
The main reason for the big leap forward as the fact that junior Meghan Roby decided to join the track team this season. In her first competitive season of track since she was a seventh-grader, Roby became one of the fastest runners in the state. She competed in four events on Friday, two individual races and two relays, and each of the four squads finished sixth or better.
Roby had her spot in the middle of the track for both the 100- and 200-meter dashes as she had the fastest times from a week earlier in the regional meets.
The 100-meter race was her first on Friday and Roby got out of the blocks fine and was near the front all the way down the track. At the end, Knox Central senior Cassidy Shippy got the best of the lean, finishing in a time of 12.58 while Roby was second in 12.67, just barely ahead of Moore’s Tymeitha Tolbert in 12.72. The top six finishers in the race all were under 13 seconds.
Ninety minutes later, Roby lined up against many of the same runners for the 200-meter dash. Roby again had a strong start and seemed to come off the turn just ahead of the field only to have defending champion Alisha Adair of Western Hills catch her at the line in 25.15 to Roby’s 25.34. Adair and Roby were the only two runners in the field to break 26 seconds.
After the regional meet, Roby had talked about wanting a top three finish at state. Following the release of the regional times and Roby had the best times in both events, she admitted to starting to think of winning it all on Friday.
“I still just wanted top three,” the junior said. “It’s my first year to compete at this level. I’m satisfied with top three.”
There was a little inexperience at this level.
“I was nervous,” Roby said of the start of the 100. “By the 200 I settled down and I ran the same time I did in the regional.”
Roby saw Adair for most of the 200.
“We were pretty much together on the turn,” Roby said. “Then she got a little ahead. I thought I pulled even with her.”
Roby ran in the 800-meter relay between the two sprints and then closed the day by running the anchor leg on the Bullitt East 1,600-meter relay squad.
The 1,600-meter team also included senior Hannah Link and sophomores Daria Reynolds and Shelby Holt. Roby ran the last leg and made up some ground on North Oldham. At the line, the North Oldham runner tripped and clipped Roby as both went to the ground as they crossed the line. North Oldham was given third in 4:09.27 while Bullitt East was time in 4:09.28.
In the 800-meter relay, Roby ran with Link and Reynolds along with sophomore TK Brown. That team ran in the last heat and the time of 1:49.04 was good for sixth.
Brown had a good day in the triple jump as she finished fifth overall with a leap of 34-02. This was Brown’s first full season of track with the Lady Chargers.
In the 400-meter dash, Link picked up a team point with an eighth place finish with a time of 1:01.38. Reynolds was one spot behind in ninth.
Other Lady Chargers competing on Friday included the 3,200-meter relay team of Holt, junior Abby Shelton, freshman Sierra Poppell and eighth-grader Caroline Collins which finished ninth in 10:16.98. Poppell and Shelton both competed in the 3,200-meter run with Poppell finishing 15th in 12:08.66 while Shelton was 19th in 12:27.06.
In the shot put, Bullitt East freshman Katelyn Hanna was 21st with a trhow of 25-06.5.
“To have only had two girls here last year and now to have people in eight or nine events shows were are headed in the right direction,” Raley said. “It’s been a great season. Still, not having a lot of experience hurt us in a few events today.”
Okruch’s Strong Day
Bullitt East senior Andrew Okruch was a force in the shot put and discus for the past three seasons, but he and the rest of the field ran into a juggernaut on Friday in Lexington Catholic senior Andrew Vollet who won both events in impressive fashion.
In the discus, Vollett won with a throw of 179-01. That was 20-feet further than runner-up Jalom Chism of Paducah Tilghman at 159-0. Okruch, who was second last year with a throw of 162-04, could do no better than 154-09 on Friday and finished third.
It was a different kind of frustration in the shot put as Okruch exceedd 50-feet in competition for the first time in his career. In fact, he did it three times with a best of 50-11.5. Still, that was only good for fourth place.
Vollet lapped the field with a throw of 63-09.25 to win by 11-feet.
Bullitt East also picked up two points from senior Brandon Wiseheart who was seventh in the 800-meter run in a time of 2:01.41. Another team point came from sophomore Trase Milburn who was eighth in the high jump as he cleared 6-feet.
Other competitors for Bullitt East on Friday included the 3,200-meter relay team of Wiseheart and fellow senior Scotty McIntyre along with sophomores Cole Green and Michael Montgomery which finished 10th in a time of 8:41.59. Freshman Isaac Shelton was 15th in the 3,200-meter run. Milburn also finished 19th in the triple jump.
For North Bullitt sophomore Bre Stewart, winning the high jump on Friday just eluded her. In fact, it appeared that she was going to win after she and Calloway County freshman Lily Lowe were the only competitors who cleared 5-feet.
Heading to 5-2, Stewart was ahead on fewer misses and Lowe badly missed her first effort at 5-2. That changed in a blink when Lowe was able to clear 5-2 on her second attempt. Stewart had another chance but could not get over a height she has cleared before this season.
“I thought I had it,” Stewart said of a win. “I thought that when she wasn’t getting 5-2. Then it was just ‘oh gosh.’
“I’m very happy,” she said. “I got fourth last year so I’m excited about second.”
In the girls’ 800-meter run, North Bullitt junior Chelsey Slayton, the state champion in 2010 and 2011, ran her fastest time in over a year but could only finish sixth in a time of 2:25.83.
Fairdale’s Tia Weston, who Slayton beat to win her two titles, set a new state record in winning the race in a time of 2:16.50.
North Bullitt also picked up a team point in the final event of the day, the 1,600-meter relay. Slayton and Stewart ran with junior Elizabeth Grau and freshman Sara Ward to finish eighth in 4:17.68.
That finish marks the fifth straight season that North Bullitt has medaled in the 1,600-meter relay.
In the high jump, Stewart’s teammate, eighth-grader Lauren Deel, finished 16th as she cleared 4-8 on her third attempt. Eighth-place actually went to a jumper who cleared 4-8, but the other jumpers had fewer misses than Deel.
In addition, North Bullitt senior Caitlin Montgomery finished 10th in the shot put with a throw of 31-03.
Egnor’s Tough Race
In the boys’ 800-meter race, North Bullitt senior Patrick Egnor was one of the favorites as only three runners in the field had run under two minutes in the regional events. Two of those runners had come from the same region as Egnor had barely lost out to Christian Academy’s Connor Cloyd.
In that regional final, Clody had made a big push midway through the final lap. In the state meet, Egnor had been told by head coach Mike Whitfill not to let Cloyd make that big run. Clody did make a big run but it came at the end of the first lap.
Egnor, who had the early lead, did not let Clody get by, but the effort that early in the race took something out of both runners. That was to the benefit of Lexington Catholic senior Nicholas Laureano who passed everyone on the backstretch and then raced to the win in 1:55.81. Cloyd was second in 1:57.90 while Egnor was passed in the last few strides by South Warren’s Jake Edmunds while Egnor was fourth in 1:59.66.
Whitfill thought that both Stewart and Egnor could win a state title.
“I really thought they could both win,” the veteran coach said.
“Bre was getting the elevation, but her approach was off,” the coach said. “We’ll have to get that down to perfection. When we do that, she’ll be clearing 5-6.”
The 800-meter run was the event that Whitfill ran in high school (at Bullitt East) and was a state runner-up.
“I made a bad decision,” the coach said. “The guy made the same move in the region. I didn’t think he would push that hard, that early. He ran both of them out of the race. I should have let Patrick run his race.”