A May 18 article by Mike Whiteford in the Charleston Gazette talks about the small crowd that came to Charleston’s Wehrle Park on May 23, 1914, to experience West Virginia’s first state high school track meet. I am sure that group could never have envisioned the growth and changes that would take place over the next 100 years. First year Charleston High School coach Rocco Gorman, only 26-years-old and a Michigan graduate, organized and directed the state’s first meet. He was so successful in all that he did that he eventually would be called the Father of Track in West Virginia. Later in life, he explained that his reason for starting a state track meet was to keep kids in school who often dropped out after football or basketball season ended.
Another track team from Pocahontas County High School traveled to Charleston on Friday and Saturday, May 23-24, to improve upon their 2013 output of one silver medal, earned by Fredricah Gardner in the discus. The two squads met their goal four times over with two girls medaling and scoring in one event each, and one boy in two events. There was some heartbreak with athletes who were predicted to score and didn’t. Medals are awarded to athletes who finish in the top six.
Seniors always have extra motivation when they have one last chance to shine in any activity. Senior Devin Rose brought home a fourth place medal (15 competitors) in discus with a toss of 134′ 3″, and that is exactly where Devin was predicted to finish. Rose had a regular season best of 140′ 2″ that was ranked fourth. If Rose had repeated his top throw, he would still have finished fourth. The #1 toss at this year’s meet by senior Isaac Britton of Doddridge County was 165′ 11′.
Rose was not predicted to score in the shot put event, and he was ranked #8 as of the regional meet with a high toss of 42′ 8″. Devin probably had a big contingent of former state medalists in the shot and discus from his own family cheering for him in his final meet. When the dust settled, Rose finished sixth of 15 competitors with a 43′ 3″ toss, an improvement of six inches over his best toss. Nathan Stout, of Gilmer, came in first with a toss of 51′ 8″.
Two PCHS sophomores brought home one medal each to match Rose’s two medals. Fredricah Gardner placed sixth out of 15 throwers with a toss of 98’9″. She actually tied Gabriella Gaspell of Gilmer County with the fifth best toss, but Gaspell broke the tie based upon number of tosses. Aiyana Kachmarek, of Tucker, placed first with a toss of 120′ 9″.
Sophomore Megan Galford also won a sixth place medal out of 16 runners in the 400 in a time of 1:03.18. Galford was not predicted to score, and her regional time of 1:04.64 was ranked #12, so she improved six positions at states. The top finisher, senior Madelin Gardner, of Williamstown, won with a time of 58.74. Galford also made a six position jump in the 800 from regionals to finish #8 out of 15 runners at states.
Melissa Murphy ran a top-10 time in the 1600, and placed #9 of 15 girls at 5:54.53. The #1 time of 5:28.19 by Payton Mullens, of Charleston Catholic, was predicted.
The girls 4×800 team of Galford, Melissa Murphy, senior Rachel McComb, and Michelle Murphy placed #10 of 16 teams in 11:13.78, knocking more than nine seconds off their best time. PCHS was ranked #10 as of regionals with a time of 11:23.14.
Stephen Simmons was predicted to finish second in the high jump based upon four 6′ jumps, two of which were recent. Stephen was also one of two to hit a 6′ jump in regionals. Simmons only managed a 5’8″ jump Saturday, along with two other competitors, who ended up tying for sixth place. Stephen fell to the #8 position based upon the number of attempts.
The PCHS boys 4×110 shuttle hurdles team of Simmons, Cade Walker, Stephen Mick and James Campbell was predicted to finish sixth and the Tucker team third. Both teams were disqualified for hurdle violations, and the Doddridge County team was called for a false start. The PCHS team was ranked as high as #2 in the state during the season. All four PCHS athletes return next year for another try.
Doddridge County won the boys meet again with 111 points, 44 points more than #2 Buffalo. Local teams which scored were: #5 Tucker – 36 points, #12 Richwood – 14, #18 Greenbrier West – 6, #20 Pocahontas – 5, and #25 Pendleton – 1. The Warriors were predicted to finish in a tie with St. Marys for 11th place with 13 points.
Williamstown won their fourth straight girls state championship with 118 points, 51 points more than #2 Charleston Catholic. Local teams which scored were: #3 Tucker – 66 points, #17 Pendleton – 4, and #18 (three-way tie) Pocahontas, Paden City and East Hardy – 2 points each. The Lady Warriors were predicted to finish in a tie with Valley Wetzel for 19th place with 1 point.
The good news for coaches Kay Wiley, Delmas Barb and Laurel Dilley is that only three boys and two girls graduate from the improving track teams.