Cougars may make history in Charleston

CHARLESTON — When the Jefferson boys step onto the rubberized surface at Laidley Field they’ll be seeking to join some of the state’s track and field giants from the past.

[cleeng_content id="904680923" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]Only three other times in the state’s history have schools won four or more straight championships.

Jefferson can accomplish a fourth-straight track and field state championship this weekend.

The others were Charleston High (no longer in existence), Stonewall Jackson High from Charleston (no longer in existence) and Cabell Midland (very much in existence and one of Jefferson’s primary obstacles to winning again).

Charleston took four consecutive championships in the years 1933 through 1936.

Ryan Graf and Andrew Milliron are Jefferson’s best distance runners. Milliron won two distance races at the recent Region II meet, while Graf was sick but still qualified for the state meet in three races.

Ryan Graf and Andrew Milliron are Jefferson’s best distance runners.
Milliron won two distance races at the recent Region II meet, while Graf was sick but still qualified for the state meet in three races.

Stonewall Jackson, now a Kanawha County middle school, has the all-time record with eight straight titles from the years 1948-1955.

Much more recently came the four straight titles presided over by Cabell Midland in the years 1996-1999.

The Knights and their disarming distance runner Jacob Burcham will be searching for that perfect meet where they could dislodge the Cougars. Burcham has two other distance runners with him who could keep points from Jefferson. And Cabell Midland also brings several hurdlers with the potential to finish high up in two individual races and the shuttles.

One area the Knights are severely hampered by their lack of quality is all five of the field events (pole vault, shot put, long jump, discus and high jump) where they will not score even one point.

Burcham has a record at past state meets that makes him one of West Virginia’s all-time greats. But at the 2013 meet he has to share the accolade “all-time great” with Jefferson’s Danté Price.

Price was only a freshman in 2010 when he finished second in the 100 meters, timed in 11:03. In that same meet, he was second in the 200 meters, clocking a 21.84 in that sprint.

Jefferson won the team championship.

Burcham fired onto the scene the next year as a sophomore.

While Price’s sophomore season brought him twin state titles in both the 100 (11.15) and the 200 (22.11), it was Burcham winning three distance races — the 800 in 1:54.01, the 1600 in 4:08.80 and the 3200 in 9:11.29.

Jefferson won the team championship.

Just last year when both runners were juniors, Price repeated his sprint victories, taking the 100 in 10.66 and the 200 in 21.67. Burcham repeated his three individual wins from the year before by running another 1:54.01 in the 800, taking the 1600 by a large margin with his time of 4:08.91 and then running away from the field in the 3200 and recording a winning time of 8:57.73.

Jefferson won its third straight team championship.

The Cougars have flourished in recent years in the 4×100 relay with Price mostly running the anchor leg. There will be no points in that event this year because Jefferson was guilty of a false start in the Region II meet and disqualified.

Should the Knights or Hedgesville or one of the other three Regional winners (Parkersburg, Greenbrier East or Winfield) disrupt Jefferson’s championship string, the king-breaker will earn their laurels. Winfield was the team champion in the same region where Cabell Midland competed.

The Cougars have potential wins in the high jump with Jordan Hardiman, a senior back after spending last season in Virginia, and the long jump with transfer Martinez Grant, who had his best jump of the year very early in the season.

Price could join Burcham as a three-time winner this weekend because he has the state’s best times in his usual 100 and 200 and has moved to the 400 where he has won every time and also has the state’s fastest time.

In the distance races, the Cougars will show the Knights Ryan Graf and Andrew Milliron as well as Rhett Zillinger and Jackson Jacobs in distance relays.

If Graf or Milliron can beat any of the Cabell Midland distant runners, Jefferson’s chances are moved forward.

Versatile runners or hurdlers like Leon Waldron, Warren Gray and Warren Goode are necessary for substantial points if Jefferson is to win for a fourth straight time.

Jefferson relays have often been fountains of points. The relay events at the state meets can easily determine the state champion. Even without a 4×100 relay team at this year’s state meet, the Cougars could overcome that loss by doing well in several others. Price will a member of one of the relays and his presence could mean a win if the baton exchanges are handled well.

When Saturday evening approaches, Jefferson could have joined only three other schools in winning at least four consecutive state championships, but without the 10 possible points in the 4×100 relay, everybody will be watching the numbers from all the events where the Cougars have representatives.

And Price and Burcham will be putting their names deeper into the historical files kept on the West Virginia track and field state meet.

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