SPRING MILLS — There was just too much firepower from Jefferson for anyone to overcome during Friday’s Class AAA, Region II track and field championships at Spring Mills High School.
The Cougars lived up to the hype of being the prohibitive favorite in both the boys’ and girls’ meets. Right from the get-go, it was all Jefferson.
The Cougar boys amassed 168 points to win the team championship. The best any team from the region could do was a 92-point effort from runner-up Martinsburg.
Musselman finished third (79). Hampshire got fourth (78).
Washington checked in at fifth place (55), followed by host Spring Mills, sixth (42) and Hedgesville, seventh (39).
The girls’ meet was a little bit closer, but not by much. Jefferson put up 169 points on the score sheet, with the Cardinals in second (123). From there, the distance began to spread out.
Hedgesville finished third (80), with Martinsburg fourth (72), Washington fifth (50), Musselman sixth (45) and Hampshire seventh (8).
The secret to success in any track and field meet is consistent scoring. The Cougar boys scored in every event, winning nine, finishing second in five and third in four others.
The girls’ final tally for Jefferson had similar results. Jefferson won seven events, finishing second in six and third in two others.
Not to be lost in all of Jefferson’s success on Friday was the domination of Washington’s Frankie Amore in the boys’ pole vault. The Ole Miss-bound senior, after not getting a chance to compete last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, won with a vault of 15-6, a foot short of his school record, but, still, well-ahead of his competitors.
For Jefferson coach Craig Hunter, Friday’s efforts were right in line with his hopes for the team.
“Hopefully, things will continue to come together,” he said. “We just want to keep things moving.”
The next, and final stop, for these athletes, is the WVSSAC championships on Saturday in Charleston. The top three in each event, plus additional wildcard entries, based on times, distances and heights across the state, qualify for states.
Jefferson’s Isaiah Fritts had the most wins of any Jefferson County athlete at Friday’s regional meet. He won two individual events and was part of two winning relay teams.
Fritts swept the 200 and 400, with respective times of 22.18 and 49.82 seconds. He also ran the second leg of the winning 4x100 relay team (43.64) and anchored the winning 4x200 relay team (1:29.08).
Fritts wasn’t taking anything for granted when he received the baton when it was his turn to run his segment in the relays. When it came time for him to run the anchor leg of the 4x200 relay, Fritts gave it everything he had on that final sprint to the finish line.
“Even though we had a big lead, I still had to push,” he said.
Hunter’s assessment of Fritts goes something like this.
“Isaiah has a lot of energy out there,” he said. “He’s like a lighting bolt. I think the key for him in the 400 is his ability to accelerate throughout the race. He’s such a great runner.”
The Cougars’ Keyshawn Robinson, a freshman, was a triple winner, taking the 100 (10.97) and running on the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
“Just keep moving the arms, just keep pushing,” Robinson said. “You’ve got to have a lot of speed to win at states.”
Justin Gottlieb, Kyle deNobel, Caleb Shelton and Justin deMoulin were double-winners for Jefferson. Gottlieb won the 800 (2:01.19) and ran on the winning 4x100 relay team; deNobel won the 1,600 (4:44.31) and ran on the winning 4x800 relay team (8:25.25); and Shelton and deMoulin ran on the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Harris Kester and Caleb Wiser ran on the winning 4x800 relay team for Jefferson.
Amore’s win in the pole vault for Washington came as little surprise to anyone. Most of the other competitors in his event were eliminated early. He could’ve stopped when he cleared 15-6, but Amore is one pole vaulter who strives to keep getting better.
He went all the way up to 16-7, where he was trying to surpass his own school record, but he missed on all three tries. Still, Amore took it all in stride.
“I almost had it, but I watched the bar on the way up and didn’t commit fully to the jump,” Amore said. “But in this meet, the goal was to qualify for states.”
While his goal is to keep improving, Amore is not one to keep secrets, offering to lend his expertise to others, seeking to help others improve their skills.
While he was waiting for his turn at the higher bar levels, Amore offered advice to the other competitors.
“Even in the pole vault, when other people are in your event, you can only control what you do,” he said. “It’s you against the bar. The bar is my enemy, not my competitor. We all travel similar roads, face similar hardships. I just like helping people.”
Konner Hawthorne, Wyatt Miles, Ben Riston and Adel McCray combined to win the 4x400 relay for Washington (3:31.65).
Hailey Dillow led the way for Jefferson’s girls as a triple-winner. She won the 100 (12.64) and ran on the winning 4x100 (49.93) and 4x200 relay teams (1:45.62).
A quick start assured Dillow of her win in the 100.
“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the last one out of the starting blocks,” she said. “All of the girls in this event are really fast.”
Lorelei Bangit, Trinity Blue, Jordan Carr and Hannah Shanley were double-winners for the Cougars. Bangit won the 200 (25.86) and ran on the winning 4x100 relay team.
Blue and Carr ran on the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Shanley swept the shot put (34 feet, 4 inches) and discus (114-6). Arayia Maiben ran on the winning 4x200 relay team for Jefferson.
T’Asya Jay, Hope Gestl, Hannah Royser and Brianna Goins won the 4x102.5 shuttle hurdles relay for the Cougars (1:09.5). Jordan Carr
Pizutti, Washington’s winner in the I mi100 hurdles, said she sustained an ankle injury during the EPAC championships. So as not to jeopardize her chances in the hurdles on Friday, she scratched from her other scheduled events, concentrating just on the hurdles.
Turns out it was the right move.
“I missed up my ligaments two weeks ago, so I had to train hard to get ready for this meet,” Pizutti said.