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State Bound: GCHS, WHS track qualify for the state meet

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By Matt Birkholtz

With the school year winding down this week and high school graduation on May 27, five seniors and five underclassmen will be heading to Louisville to compete in the KHSAA Track and Field State Championships May 27-28.

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Willamstown

In the second year of the program, Williamstown High School will have four students competing in the state meet after competing in the regional meet at the Walton-Verona Sports Complex May 20 in Verona.

Senior Steven Bradford qualified for two events, the 800 meter dash and the 4x400 meter relay.

"It was great and a nice accomplishment,” he said.

Bradford said that he prefers the 800 meter dash because it is where the most cross-country runners compete in. However, he likes the relay event because it is the last event of the day and it can be the most exciting race for those in attendance.

Junior Blake Edmondson qualified for all four events including, the long jump, the triple jump, the 4x100 meter relay and the 4X400 meter relay. The triple jump is actually an event that Edmondson just started a few weeks ago and was a state qualifier in it.

“I just kind of do it,” he said. “There isn’t a lot to train for it.”

Derrick King, Sean Moreland and s Hunter Pendleton will join Bradford and Edmondson May 27 at the University of Louisville.

“It’s awesome what we have done in the two years of the track team,” Moreland said.

Williamstown coach Michelle Whaley said that besides Edmondson on the night of the regional meet, no one knew about going to state until May 22.

“We had to play a bit of a waiting game, as the other regions were handing their results in,” she said. “Once we found out all who was going, it was a great accomplishment for this young program and I am proud of all of them.”

Whaley said seniors Matthew Lillard and William May will be alternates for the relay teams in case of an emergency.

With the experience Edmondson gained from last years’ state meet, he wants the rest of the team to know that the state meet is where the best of the best compete.

“Don’t worry about it and give it your best,” he said. “

Grant  County   

Grant County High School will be sending five students to the state meet May 28 in Louisville.

Brandon Gouge, Dylan Jackson, Michael Schultz, Tyler Edmondson and Nathan Davis will be making the trip down.

Gouge, Jackson Schultz and Edmondson qualified for the 4x800 meter relay at the regional meet at Ryle High School May 21 by placing fourth.

“I am really looking forward to getting down there and running this event again,” Schultz said. “I don’t think we were prepared for state last year, so I think we are more prepared this year and it’s our last race and there is nothing after it, so we just have to go out there and compete.”

For Davis, it has been a trial to get to this point after suffering a knee injury just a couple of weeks ago at a home meet, to going to state as the regional champion in the high jump, clearing 6 feet 2 inches, tying the school record.

“I think it feels pretty awesome to be up there with the likes of Devon Liggets,” he said. “It was my goal to beat the school record, but I will take the tie.”

Davis said his knee is feeling much better and he was happy to be able to compete, considering it was May 16 before he was cleared to compete.

“That was awesome for me,” he said. “To be a sophomore and going to state, it is something I can be proud of and can look back on and say I went to state.”

Grant County coach Brian Soules said that everyone competed at their best with most of them even setting new personal records.

“I felt that we went into the regional healthy and overall they broke their records and competed at the highest level they could compete at,” he said. “There isn’t much more you can ask from them.”

As for the training for the state meet, Soules said that it is like any other week during the season, except for the fact there are no meets during the week leading up to state.

Last season, the 4x800 meter relay was also a state qualifier and Edmondson replaces Chris Ellis, who moved out of state after last school year.

Edmondson hopes to break his personal best and send the seniors out on a high note.

“I think it is big to them being their last year and last race,” he said. “You know they are going to run hard and try and set a new record.”

As they prepare for the state meet, Soules has some advice for Edmondson and Davis as they gear for their first appearance at the state meet.

“Take it all in and enjoy the moment,” he said. “We have almost 1,200 students in this building and less than one percent get to experience this. Have fun and compete and they are experienced enough to get ready when the time comes for their event and to just enjoy the day after that."