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MOUNT WASHINGTON - The All-Bullitt County Track and Field Championships have often showcased the best that the county has to offer in terms of athletes.
When Bullitt Central and North Bullitt converge on Bullitt East on Monday for the 2012 edition of the big show, we could very well have the best collection of local talent ever together on one day within the county.
While two returning state champions, Bullitt East's Trevor Troutman and North Bullitt's Chelsey Slayton, and another athlete who finished second in the state finals last year, Bullitt East's Jacob Duvall, headline the field, the overall depth is impressive. After those three, there could be another seven or eight athletes who could post top-10 finishes in their respective events at the state championships in three weeks.
Monday's event at Bullitt East will start at 5:30 p.m. There will be a $3 admission fee.
This will be the one and only chance this spring for local fans to see this strong group of athletes compete within Bullitt County. Because of deteriorating track conditions at all three schools, this is the only home match any of the programs has conducted in 2012.
The biggest question mark on Monday will surround the two team races. North Bullitt is the defending champion on both sides, but unlike the upcoming regional and state meets, where a handful of athletes can dominate the team scoring, this three-team meet is more about overall numbers.
While North Bullitt wears the 'favorites' tag again, especially on the boys' side, Eagle head coach Mike Whitfill, a former Bullitt East track standout, knows that winning the most events may not translate into a team title when you are using a 5-3-2-1 scoring system (5-3 in relays).
"If another school gets second and third then it pretty much washes out a win," Whitfill said before his team practiced last week. "If everybody could be in six events then we'd be in great shape, but they can only be in four."
There will be an even greater emphasis on depth this year because of the large number of athletes that Bullitt Central will bring to the show. In recent years, the Cougars have failed to bring more than a handful of competitors to this event, but under new coaches Mike Gossett and Thomas Martin, the program is busting at the seams with athletes.
Both Bullitt Central teams expect to put competitors in every event. That is something that neither Bullitt East nor North Bullitt will be able to do.
Bullitt East head coach Lenny Raley is hoping to score enough points at the state meet to have a top five finish in the boys' team race. That is something no Bullitt County team has ever come close to accomplishing. However, the Chargers don't have the depth to win this small meet.
"With just three teams, we do not have the depth to win the meet," Raley admitted. "On the boys' side, North Bullitt has a much stronger sprint and middle distance crew and that can translate into a lot of points for them. Bullitt Central as added some nice kids and will challenge for the win in several events."
While each of the three schools will close out the regular season with a meet on Thursday of this week, this is really a final tune-up for post-season. North Bullitt and Bullitt East will compete in the Class AA regional next Tuesday at Henry County. Bullitt Central's Class AAA regional will be on Saturday, May 12, at St. Xavier.
The top finishers at the regional meets will advance to the Class AA State Championships on Friday, May 18 while the Class AAA State Championships will be a day later. Both meets will be at the University of Louisville.
Boys' County Meet
As always, certain events at this level will be dominated by one athlete.
Leading that list is Troutman, the best discus thrower in Kentucky this spring in any class. The big senior, who has already signed with the University of Louisville, has the fourth best throw in the history of the state already this spring at 185-feet. This past weekend, he finished second in the Eastern Relays at Cardinal Park with a throw of 176-3, but finished second to a thrower from Tennessee.
Along with teammate Andrew Okruch, a junior, Bullitt East will go one-two in both the discus and the shot put.
In the hurdles, Duvall recently broke the school record with a 15.22 in winning the 110-meter title at the St. X Invitational and on Saturday lowered that mark to 15.11 only to finish third at the Eastern Relays. Duvall, who will run at Asbury College next fall, will be heavily favored in that event, but he could be pushed by North Bullitt's Chris Pate in the 300-meter hurdles.
In the sprints, North Bullitt senior Cody Hodge, who will sign with Campbellsville hours before the county meet, will be the favorite at both 100- and 200-meters. Hodge will be pushed by Bullitt Central senior Joseph Greenwell.
North Bullitt will be strong in the two shorter relays, but Bullitt Central can put a competitive team on the track, especially in the 800-meter relay.
The new boys' track protŽgŽe in the county is Bullitt Central freshman Trevor Carnell. The football standout could well compete in six or seven events and be competitive. Late last week, Bullitt Central coaches were not tipping their hands as to what four events Carnell will run other than the 400-meter dash where he has already run under 53 seconds.
In fact, the boys' 400-meter dash could be one of the best events of the meet. North Bullitt senior Keith Miller and junior Patrick Egnor are also strong in this event.
In the distance events, North Bullitt has an edge with Michael Dowell and Andrew Atkins at 800- and 1,600-meters. Bullitt East junior Brandon Wiseheart will try to break into that top group.
There are more questions in the jumping events. Duvall has competed in some jumping events this spring and could score points Monday. Fellow Charger Trase Milburn, a freshman, could grab some key points also. Carnell has also scored points in the long jump this spring as has Greenwell. North Bullitt senior Logan Polley will also score points.
Girls' County Meet
While the overall competition numbers are not as strong on the girls' side, there are certainly some top athletes who will compete on Tuesday.
Headlining that list once again will be Slayton, the two-time defending state champion at 800-meters. She has been battling injuries this spring, but Whitfill felt she would be ready to go on Monday. The sophomore has yet to get into the 2:22 range she ran at the end of last season, but she does have a 2:26 this year.
While Slayton will also compete in the 1,600-meter relay in the post-season meets ahead, Whitfill was not sure just what, or how many other events that he would put Slayton in for this meet.
Like on the boys' side, the new name that has jumped to the forefront of local track is wearing maroon and gray for Bullitt Central. Freshman Kasey Renfrow has been putting up strong numbers in a multitude of events for the Lady Cougars. At this point, Martin isn't sure what are the best events to put her in.
Already this spring Renfrow has long jumped 16-5 and she can run a blistering 200-meters while also being strong in the 300-meter hurdles...or the high jump or the 100-meter dash. Unfortunately, the 200 dash and the longer hurdles event are close together late in the meets so she often doesn't do both in the same competition. Martin said he wasn't trying to fool anyone, but he himself was not sure exactly what events Renfrow would be doing on Monday, nor in the upcoming Class AAA regional meet.
Bullitt Central will also be strong in the distance events led by senior Alyssa Shifflett. Her main competition will come from a pair of middle schoolers as Bullitt East's roster has swelled with the addition of Caroline Collins and Sierra Poppell.
(The Bullitt County Middle School track championships will be held later this week at North Bullitt).
In fact, it appears that Bullitt Central will be the only team to cover all 17 events in the county meet.
The only senior on the North Bullitt roster is Alexa Hughes and she could challenge Renfrow in the 200 and will compete against Bullitt East's Hannah Link at 400-meters. North Bullitt's Elizabeth Grau is also good in the sprints.
In the field events, the girls' shot put should be an event to watch. Both Bullitt East senior Ashley Duvall and North Bullitt junior Kaitlyn Montgomery have thrown over 32 feet this spring. North Bullitt has a strong high jumper in freshman Breanna Stewart who qualified for the state meet two years ago in this event.
Another new addition for Bullitt East this spring is basketball standout Emily Fryman who will do some of the sprints as well as some jumping events.