HCHS track teams each place second in season-opening meet


Harlan County High School junior Paige Phillips won the 100-meter hurdles, triple jump and high jump at the season-opening meet Friday at Coal Miners Memorial Stadium.

By Abby Sherman, Contributing Writer


The Harlan County track team opened the season with a strong performance at Friday’s all-comers meet. The Lady Bears and Bears had a second-place finish overall, with 127.50 and 111.50 points, respectively. Leslie County won the girls division with a total of 129 points, while Corbin won the boys division with 124.50 points. North Laurel (99 points), Whitley County (73), and Williamsburg (73) rounded out the top five teams on the boys side. North Laurel finished third with 103.5 points, followed by Corbin with 93.5 points, and Williamsburg with 50 points.
“I’m really proud of my kids for their performance. This meet was massive and they came to compete,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “I thought we competed hard on the girls side. Leslie has an excellent team and are the defending regional champions.”
We have a lot of kids competing for the first time, and they were fantastic tonight. We were missing some key contributors who are dealing with injuries, so I’ll be interested to see what we can do once we are at full strength, but what a great start for these kids.”
The Harlan girls finished with a total of 32 points, while the boys finished with 26 points.
“Last night, I believe we had a pretty strong showing from both our boys side and the girls side. Last night was a huge learning experience for most of our team,” Harlan coach Trent McKenzie said. “We have some great people back this year, and we also have some new faces. The staff and I told them team before the meet that it was a practice just to learn things. I think and the other coaches think we will have a fine season this year.
Ella Karst and Paige Phillips won their events to lead the Lady Bears. Karst won the 100 and 200 meter dash. Phillips won the 100 meter hurdles, triple jump and high jump, as well as setting a new school record in high jump. Phillips also finished third in the 300 meter hurdles.
“What a great night Paige Phillips had. Winning three events in a meet of this size (and breaking a school record) is a great feat,” Vitatoe said. “Ella was awesome as well, and the 4 x 100 was solid. Lauren Lewis and Aliyah Deleon were pleasant surprises tonight as well.”
Karst, Taytum Griffin, Aliyah Deleon and Emilee Eldridge were the overall winners in the 4 x 100 relay.
Eldridge, Brianna Howard, Griffin and Karst finished third in the 4 x 200 meter relay.
Lauren Lewis finished second in the 3,200-meter run.
Madison Daniels was second in pole vault.
Taylor Lunsford placed second overall in shot put.
“All our girls competed their tails off. We are far from a finished product, but I’m excited about this start,” Vitatoe said. “This was a regional meet atmosphere, and they didn’t bat an eye.”
To lead the Bears, Dallas Sergent won the 110-meter hurdles and placed second in the 300 meter hurdles. Connor Blevins won shot put, while Seth Robinson and Tanner Griffin won unified shot put. Liam Garland won discus.
“Dallas had a great race winning the 110 hurdles, and Connor picked up a big win in the shot,” Vitatoe said. “All our guys competed hard tonight.”
Luke Kelly finished second in the 100- and 200-meter dash.
Braxton Cornett placed third in the 200-meter dash.
Andrew Yeary finished second in the 800-meter run.
Austin Crain, Kyle Farley, Hunter Crain and Jacob Schwenke finished second overall in the 4 x 400 meter relay.
Landon McCreary placed second in pole vault.
Taelor Haywood was third in long jump, while Brayden Howard was third in triple jump.
“The boys competed great as well. Corbin is a perennial top 5-7 finisher in the state meet each year, and I thought we battled them tough. I’m really excited about their potential for the season,” Vitatoe said.
Harlan’s top performers at the meet were Emma Owens and Marissa Marlowe. Owens placed second in the 100-meter dash and triple jump, while Marlowe placed third in discus.
HC will return to action on Tuesday in an all-comers meet at Leslie County.

Harlan’s Shelby Doan competed in the season-opening meet Friday at Harlan County High School.