There’s no question that Danté Price, the Jefferson High sprinter who recorded three individual firsts at last week’s Class AAA, Region II track and field meet, is leading a standout team. The Weston win marked the Cougars’ eighth regional title.
[cleeng_content id="605371506" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]Now Price, who in February signed to run next year at Virginia Tech, aims to continue his success this week at the state track meet in Charleston. At Laidley Field, he could best a 13-year-old state record in the 100-meter race as well as a 200-meter record that dates to 1989 – that one set by Jefferson High’s famed James Jett, who went on to play in the NFL.
Meanwhile last week, the Cougars’ top rival, Cabell Midland High, was competing in its own regional contest. Cabell Midland, rich in distance men and hurdlers, has been Jefferson’s main competition when the Cougars turned the other Regional championships into three consecutive state championships.
Jefferson’s long look at Cabell Midland was prompted at least a little bit because the Cougars lost state meet points when their 4×100 relay team was disqualified for a false start and failed to qualify for the Charleston-based event.
Doing well in relays at state meets can be crucial to winning championships because of the huge point values those events have.
The Knights don’t have sprinters and they are no threat in any of the field events — pole vault, high jump, long jump, shot put and discus.
But distance runners the Knights do have, led by the state’s best in Jacob Burcham.
Jefferson did well in the distance races at Weston where Andrew Milliron finished first in the 1600 (4:37.33) and also won the 3200 (10:01.20), two races where Burcham doesn’t lose to West Virginia runners.
Milliron was second in the 800 (2:02.45) and was a member of the second-place 4×800 (8:28.93) relay team.
Also qualifying for the state meet in the distances was Ryan Graf, running despite not feeling well. Graf was second in the 1600 and 3200. He was third in the 800 and ran on the 4×800 relay team.
Despite the uneasy sprint relay disqualification, it was Dante’ Price and the group of Jefferson sprinters which led the point parade in the Regional.
Price recorded a trio of individual firsts, winning the 100 in 11.35, the 200 in 22.62 and the 400 in 48.59. All three of those times were the fastest in the state when compared with the results from the other three Regionals.
Jefferson’s 4×200 relay team was a winner as Tanner Cantrell, Warren Goode, Dante McCarroll and Robert Douglas provided the win.
The 4×400 relay unit (Leon Waldron, Phillip Holliday, Warren Gray and Goode) finished second.
The first three finishers in all the individual events and all the relays automatically qualified for the state meet.
Jefferson can alter its relay teams now that they have qualified. Price could be placed on one of the sprint relays now that he won’t be competing in the 4×100 relay.
Since Cabell Midland won’t score a point in any of the five field events, the Cougars could move past the Knights again if Jordan Hardiman (6-feet-10 inches) repeats his Regional win in the high jump and Martinez Grant (20-feet-10.50 inches) does the same in the long jump.
The height and distance Hardiman and Grant achieved were the best in the state in Regional competition.
Warren Gray could put a damper on Cabell Midland’s hurdles efforts. Gray won the 300 hurdles in Weston with his time of 39.67 and he was second in the 110 high hurdles when his finish was clocked in 15.40. The Jefferson shuttle hurdles relay was third in 1:01 while the Knights won the Region IV meet in 57.91.
Rhett Zillinger finished third in the 1600 and Jackson Jacobs was third in the 3200.
Jefferson had 166 points. Runner-up Hedgesville had 126 points, Musselman was third with 71 and Washington fourth with 45 points. Nine schools competed in the Regional.
Washington had a win from Adrian Baker in the pole vault when he cleared a season-best 13-feet.
Ethan Killbride was third in the pole vault.
The Patriots’ 4×200 relay was second with Marquel Hosby, Derrick Brunson, Connor Flinchum and Ian McLeod.
Finishing fourth but qualifying for the state meet were Hosby in the 200, Flinchum in the 300 hurdles and Brunson in both the 100 and 400.
Jefferson will be peering over its shoulder and listening to the starter’s pistol to see and hear what Cabell Midland and Hedgesville are doing when the state meet begins this Friday evening at Laidley Field and then closes on Saturday.
It could be a four-peat for the Cougars.