HCHS boys win SEKC title; girls place second


The Harlan County track team traveled to Williamsburg to compete in the SEKC Championship on Friday. The boys won the meet with 166 points, while the girls placed second overall with 155 points. Leslie County won the girls division with 219 points.

“I’m really proud of our kids tonight. This has been a tough season, but our kids keep battling. We keep improving, and they keep working hard,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “We had four school records broken tonight and a ton of PRs and that show the kind of effort they gave.”

Luke Kelly led the Bears, placing first in the 200-meter dash and second in the 100-meter dash. Dallas Sergent won the 300-meter hurdles. Connor Blevins won shot put and placed fourth in discus.

Taelor Haywood finished sixth in the 100-meter dash.

In the 200-meter dash, Bryan Howard was eighth, immediately followed by Ethan Simpson.

Hunter Crain placed second in the 400-meter dash. Jacob Schwenke and Austin Crain were sixth and eighth, respectively.

In the 800-meter run, Andrew Yeary finished second. Jacob Schwenke was fourth, while Kyle Farley was fifth.

Yeary placed second in the 1,600-meter run. Gage Bailey was seventh.

Bailey was fifth in the 3,200-meter run. Drew Sergent finished eighth. Jeremiah Allen was 11th.

Brayden Howard finished fourth in the 110-meter hurdles and seventh in the 300-meter hurdles.

In long jump, Haywood placed fifth. Bryan Howard was sixth, while Jayce Brown was 11th.

Haywood was fifth in high jump. Caleb Schwenke placed sixth.

In triple jump, Brayden Howard was third. Bryan Howard and Bradley Brock were tenth and 12th, respectively.

In pole vault, Brown placed second. Landon McCreary was third, while Brock placed 10th.

In shot put, Tanner Griffin was seventh, while Jacob Shoemaker placed ninth. Bradley Henson placed 10th. Seth Robinson was 12th. Brayden Clay was 15th, while Kaleb Michael placed 21st.

Shoemaker placed eighth in discus. Darren Alred was 13th.

Hunter Crain, Haywood, Kelly and Dallas Sergent won the 4 x 100 meter relay.

In the 4 x 200 meter relay, Kelly, Austin Crain, Hunter Crain and Dallas Sergent finished third.

In the 4 x 400 meter relay, Hunter Crain, Austin Crain, Jacob Schwenke and Yeary placed second. Hunter Smith, Evan Simpson, Ethan Simpson and Bailey were fifth.

Austin Crain, Farley, Jacob Schwenke and Yeary won the 4 x 800 meter relay. Bailey, Smith, Allen and Drew Sergent placed seventh.

“Obviously, it’s a special accomplishment to win three straight SEKC titles. I’m really proud of our guys on this win. It was a total team effort — we had guys sacrifice their strongest events to get us points in other areas. We had guys step in and run events they’d never run before and scored big points for us,” Vitatoe said. “That’s what I love about this program (both teams). Kids will step up and do what’s necessary to help their team. I’m proud of that. It’s an environment of ‘we over me’, and these boys embody that.”

“I’m really proud of Gage Bailey, who stepped in and ran several events tonight. He and Drew Sergent came up big in the two mile to get us points with Tanner competing at the Dream Mile. They were stellar, and those were big points for us. We had so many guys perform well. I’m really proud of them. This is a big accomplishment and they should be very proud.”

To lead the Lady Bears, Paige Phillips won the 100-meter hurdles, breaking her school record. Phillips also placed sixth in the 300-meter hurdles, second in high jump and tenth in triple jump.

In the 100-meter dash, Ella Karst was second. Taytum Griffin placed tenth, while Emilee Eldridge was 13th.

In the 200-meter dash, Karst finished second, breaking her school record. Griffin was seventh. Eldridge placed 11th.

Addi Gray was sixth in the 400-meter dash. Brianna Howard finished ninth, while Preslee Hensley was 11th.

In the 800-meter run, Peyton Lunsford finished second. Lauren Lewis and Preslee Hensley were third, and sixth, respectively.

In the 1,600-meter run, Peyton Lunsford placed second. Lewis was third, while Gracie Roberts finished sixth.

Peyton Lunsford was second in the 3,200-meter run. Lewis finished third. Gracie Roberts placed fifth.

Heaven Hensley was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles and ninth in the 300-meter hurdles.

In long jump, Heaven Hensley and Maliyah Washington placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Hailie Hensley placed 11th.

Hailie Hensley was sixth in high jump, while Heaven Hensley was eighth.

In triple jump, Washington placed 11th. Hailie Hensley was 12th.

Madison Daniels placed second in pole vault. Taylor Clem was fifth.

In shot put, Taylor Lunsford was second. Macy Saylor and Lacey Robinson were ninth and 12th, respectively.

In discus, Taylor Lunsford placed third. Whitney Noe was eighth, while Saylor was 12th.

Aliyah Deleon, Eldridge, Griffin and Karst were second in the 4 x 100 meter relay. They also placed fourth in the 4 x 200 meter relay, breaking their school record.

In the 4 x 400 meter relay, Gray, Howard, Preslee Hensley and Deleon were third.

Gray, Preslee Hensley, Peyton Lunsford and Lewis finished second in the 4 x 800 meter relay, setting a new school record. Olivia Kelly, Gracie Roberts, Kiera Roberts and Charli Shepherd placed sixth.

“I’m proud of our girls tonight as well. They fought and clawed all night long in a really strong field of teams. Leslie County is one of the top teams in the state, and Williamsburg really competed hard tonight,” Vitatoe said. “Our girls fought hard until the end and found a way to get into the top two. I know they are disappointed, but they haven’t finished outside the top two in the conference in the last five years, and that’s a huge accomplishment.”

“The 4 x 800 girls (Peyton Lunsford, Lauren Lewis, Addi Gray and Preslee Hensley) had a huge race, breaking a school record that had stood since 2011.

The 4 x 200 girls (Ella Karst, Aliyah Deleon, Emilee Eldridge and Taytum Griffin) set a school record in the 4 x 200. That’s twice in the last two meets.”

Karst, Phillips, Yeary and Blevins were named to the All-SEKC team.

“I’m very happy for Connor and Andrew for making All-SEKC. These two guys have meant so much to our program over their careers and they are deserving of this honor.

“I’m happy for Ella and Paige for making All-SEKC. They both had huge nights tonight and they are deserving. Both broke individual records with Paige setting a new 100-meter hurdle record and Ella breaking the 200.”

“Now we turn our focus to region. The line between being in the top three versus seventh or eighth is razor thin. We are in one of the toughest, deepest regions in the state in any class, and we’ll have to be ready to compete. If we are, we’ll have the ability to put a lot of kids in the state meet, which is the ultimate goal of the season.”

HC will return to action on Tuesday at the Class 2A, Region 5 meet at Boyle County.


All-SEKC track selections from Harlan County include, from left: Ella Karst, Andrew Yeary and Connor Blevins (Chandra Howard)
Harlan County runners Addi Gray, Lauren Lewis, Peyton Lunsford and Preslee Hensley broke the school 4x800m relay record with a time of 10-54.12 on Friday in the Southeastern Kentucky Conference meet at Williamsburg.