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HCHS girls win Area 9 championship

If there was any doubt about the Harlan County High School girls track program’s status as an Area 9 dynasty, it was erased Saturday.

The girls squad claimed its fifth consecutive Area 9 championship, rolling over second-place Middlesboro by 56.5 points.

“The girls were really on a mission,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “We had a pretty straightforward conversation on Friday about our progress so far, and they really responded to the challenge I laid in front of them.”

Harlan County won seven events. Junior Baili Boggs dominated the hurdle events, setting a new school record in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.71 seconds and then winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 52.96 seconds.

Sophomore Kassydee Owens also claimed a pair of first-place finishes, winning the triple jump with a school record distance of 31 feet, 7 inches, and running the anchor leg in the 4 x 400-meter relay along with teammates Morgan Blakley, KK Johnson and Phebe McHargue to post a winning time of 4:28.96.

Seniors Johnson and McHargue were also part of the winning 4 x 200-meter and 4 x 100-meter relay teams. The duo combined with Abby Stephens and Hannah Wood to post a time of 1:54.84 in the 4 x 200 and a time of 53.69 seconds in the 4 x 100.

Senior Amber Allen won the pole vault be clearing a jump of 7 feet, 6 inches on her first try. Teammate Abby Vitatoe placed second with the same height.

Other second-place finishers for the Lady Bears included Whitney Wilson in the shot put (a school-record 29 feet, 10.25 inches), Kelly Beth Hoskins in the discus throw (76 feet, also a school record), Cadance Ferguson in the 3,200-meter run (13:58.60) and Blakley in the 1,600-meter run (5:55.56).

Harlan County scored 195.50 points, with Middlesboro tallying 139. Knott County Central placed third with 83.50 points.

Vitatoe was impressed with the four school records set Saturday.

“I’m proud of both these teams, and all these kids. They really showed up to compete today, and the results show that. We had a ton of (personal records) and school records set today. When that happens, as a coach you know your team is dialed in,” he said.

“Winning a district title in any sport is tough. Winning five in a row is special, and it says a lot about the leadership these kids display. These senior guys have never finished any lower than second in the district in their career. These are impressive feats for these kids. Keep in mind they are competing against 12-15 teams in the district meet. I’m really proud of them.”

Middlesboro returned the favor in the boys meet, defeating Harlan County 187.50-130.50.

“The boys ran great as well. I can’t think of another time I had a group score over 120 points and get second,” Vitatoe said. “They were dialed in and ready to compete. I can’t say enough about how important Matt Brown’s leadership has been for us this season.”

Sophomore Caleb Brock was part of all three Harlan County boys wins on the track. He teamed with Zack Carmical, Cooper McHargue and James Chasteen to open the meet with a win in the 4 x 800-meter relay, posting a time of 8:58.35, and later claimed wins in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs (5:01.69 and 11:07.34, respectively).

Hunter Blevins was the Bears’ other event winner. The sophomore won the shot put with a throw of 42 feet, 0.75 inches.

Harlan’s Story Miller won the pole vault with a jump of 11 feet, 9 inches.

The Bears will host an all-comers meet Tuesday and travel to Middlesboro on Thursday before participating in the Class 3A Region 7 meet at Pulaski County on May 21.

Complete results can be found online at https://ky.milesplit.com/meets/334767/results/653529/raw#.XNoafY5KiM9

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Team results

Girls

Harlan County 195.50, Middlesboro 139, Knott Central 83.50, Perry Central 76.50, Prestonsburg 69, Letcher Central 64.50, Harlan 21, Hazard 5, Betsy Layne 2.

Boys

Middlesboro 187.50, Harlan County 130.50, Letcher Central 88, Betsy Layne 88, Perry Central 71, Prestonsburg 69, Harlan 16, Knott Central 14.