Ryan Vitatoe has warned his Harlan County Black Bears and Lady Bears about failing to show up for the first Class 2, Region 7 meet ever to be held on the campus of Harlan County High School on Friday.
“Both our teams have to come ready to run,” said Vitatoe. “Hosting a regional meet is an exciting thing, and we can’t get swept up in the excitement of being at home. We’re going to have to be focused and ready to run, and we have to understand you’re getting a different intensity level from your competition at the regional meet. You can’t afford to overlook anyone. I think we will have as good a chance as anyone to take the title, but everyone has to do their job on meet day.”
The Lady Bears will be among the favorites after winning the Area 9 title last week.
“I’d expect Allison Cornett to have a very good chance in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Kali Nolan has been one of the top 300 hurdlers in our region all season and should contend for the regional championship in that event. Samantha Howard had a big win in the 800 at Area 9 that puts her as one of the favorites in the 800,” Vitatoe said. “All our girls relays (4×100, 4×200, 4×800 and 4×400) should be in contention for regional titles as well. Madison Blanton has established herself as one of the top jumpers in the region this season and should be in the hunt for a title.”
The HCHS boys have improved considerably during the course of the year and could contend Friday, even though Leslie County and Pike Central appear to be the favorites.
“Alex Lewis should be one of the top distance guys at the region meet, and I’d expect him to contend for the 1,600 and 3,200 title. Kyton Joseph has established himself as one of our region’s top jumpers in his first year of competition, and I’d expect him to perform well,” Vitatoe said. “The biggest turnaround for us this season has been an improvement in speed. Our speed relays are far and away faster than what I’ve had since I’ve been the track coach, and I expect them to perform well. The boys 4×800 relay team will be in contention to win the regional title as well, and I think Austin Adams has a fantastic chance in the 100 and 200, as does Dalton Shepherd in the 400.”
Field events start at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Running events start at 6 p.m.
Harlan will compete in its Class A regional meet next week.
The top two finishers in each event automatically qualify for the state meet that’s held at the University of Kentucky on Memorial Day weekend.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134