The Harlan County Lady Bears took second place in the Class 2A, Region 7 meet Friday, the first held on the course at Coal Miners Memorial Stadium.
Harlan County finished with 110.50 points, behind only Knott Central with its 145 points. Perry Central was third with 84 points, followed by Leslie County with 81.50, Letcher Central with 55, Johnson Central with 29, Pike Central with 26, Belfry with 13 and Breathitt County with seven.
Leslie County continued its strong season in boys competition, winning the Region 7 title with 135 points. Pike Central was second with 106 points, followed by Perry Central with 65 and Johnson Central with 65 each, Harlan County with 47, Belfry with 46, Breathitt County with 41, Letcher Central with 30 and Powell County with 22.
“I’m happy for our kids,” said Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe. “To have the opportunity to send 13 Harlan County athletes to represent their school and county at the state meet in Lexington is great, and I’m glad they have the opportunity for the experience. Our teams have worked incredibly hard this year and I’m very proud of how they competed tonight. We have the youngest team in the region, and for so many of our kids this was the first time competing at a regional environment.”
The Lady Bears, as usual this season, enjoyed most of their success in relay events.
The foursome of Samantha, K.K. Johnson, Phebe McHargue and Kali Nolan won the 1,600-meter relay event.
Reanna Middleton joined McHargue, Johnson and Nolan to take second in the 100- and 200-meter relay events.
Allison Cornett also had a big evening for the Lady Bears, placing second in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Madison Blanton was second in the long jump.
Nolan was second in the 300-meter hurdles.
Howard, Taylor Rowe, Katie Graham and Cornett teamed to place second in the 800-meter relay.
“I knew Knott had an incredible team to contend with coming into this meet, and I tip my hat to them,” Vitatoe said. “I’m proud of how my girls competed throughout the night. They have nothing to hang their head about. We have an great core group returning next season and we hope to keep adding to the team. These girls will have the opportunity to compete for the title again next year.”
The Bears were led by a second-place finish from James Dean, Cody Howard, Alex Lewis and Zach Hunting in the 800-meter relay.
“The boys were the most improved team in our region throughout the season. We came out and competed hard, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for. We had several boys narrowly miss qualifying for the state meet, and that hurts, but it will be experience we can use in the future,” Vitatoe said. “We still have some gaps to fill, but I feel good about our future. I’m hoping other guys in the school took notice to what we’ve accomplished and will want to be part of what we’re building.”
The top two finishers in each event advance to state competition later this month at the University of Kentucky.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134