HCHS athletes earn six medals in Class 2A state competition


Carrie Mattingly

Harlan County High School senior Andrew Yeary finished seventh in the 800-meter run on Friday in Lexington.

By Abby Sherman, Contributing Writer

Harlan County earned six medals and set three school records on Saturday in the 2A state meet held at the University of Kentucky. The HCHS girls placed 30th overall, while the boys finished 37th.
“I’m really proud of our kids today. They competed hard and we had several leave with either a personal record or season best,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “We also had three school records fall, and as a coach you can’t ask for anything more from a group of athletes.”
To lead the Lady Bears, Taylor Lunsford medaled in shot put, placing sixth and setting a new school record.
“Taylor (Lunsford) also had a huge day. She had an incredible throw and set a new school record. She’s medaled in the last three state meets and what a great way to end her career. I’m really proud of her.”
Ella Karst was 20th in the 100-meter dash.
“Ella had a strong showing and I’m really proud of her,” Vitatoe said. “She’s a great athlete and she’s come a long way in her career. She’s also set herself up for a strong senior year.”
In the 1,600-meter run, Peyton Lunsford finished 18th.
“Peyton had a good run in the 1,600-meter run,” Vitatoe said. “I’m proud of her coming off such a serious injury to make it back here. She’ll bounce back big in the fall.”
Paige Phillips placed 11th in the 100-meter hurdles and tenth in high jump.
“Paige had a huge day equaling her school record in the high jump and she also did a great job in the 100-meter hurdles. She’s really come on strong in the late part of the season, and I’m proud of her. She’s set herself up for a great senior year,” Vitatoe said.
Madison Daniels was ninth in pole vault.
“All of our pole vaulters had a great meet,” Vitatoe said. “Madison equaled her school record and was a brush of a left arm away from 9-0. She’s grown so much and we’re proud of her. Taylor (Clem) battled through a tough day, and we’re proud of her.”
Aliyah Deleon, Emilee Eldridge, Taytum Griffin and Karst were ninth in the 4 x 100 meter relay, breaking the school record. They also placed 19th in the 4 x 200 meter relay.
“I’m really happy for our girls 4 x 100 meter relay. They’ve been chasing that record for three seasons now, and to have the opportunity to break it at the state meet is an awesome way to do it. Emilee, Ella, Taytum and Aliyah were dialed in and ready to compete. When you finish 10th in the state from heat 1, it says a lot about how hard they competed,” Vitatoe said. “I’m happy for them, and I’m very happy for Emilee and Taytum. As seniors, they deserved this. They’ve worked hard in their career.”
Addi Gray, Preslee Hensley, Lauren Lewis and Peyton Lunsford finished 19th in the 4 x 800 meter relay.
“I’m proud of all our kids. Our girls 4 x 800 meter relay team are incredibly young and they have a bright future ahead of them. Lauren and Pres have been a big addition to our program, and Addi always gives 110 percent. Combine that group with Peyton, and they will be formidable for the next several years,” Vitatoe said.
Seth Robinson and Tanner Griffin led the Bears, winning in unified shot put, making this Robinson’s third consecutive state title.
“How about Seth Robinson winning his third straight state title in the unified shot? He and Tanner (Griffin) did a great job, and I’m really proud of them both. Kaleb Michael also did a great job in unified shot placing second overall. He and Brayden Clay did a great job and earned a medal,” Vitatoe said.
Luke Kelly was 16th in the 100-meter dash and 20th in the 200-meter dash.
“Luke Kelly had great races in both the 100- and 200-meter dash and this state meet will be a great experience for his development. He’s got big things ahead of him,” Vitatoe said.
Andrew Yeary medaled in the 800-meter run, finishing seventh.
“Andrew had a great race in the 800-meter run,” Vitatoe said. “He ran to win and had the lead going into the final 150 meters. He raced hard and earned a medal, and I’m really proud of him.”
In the 3,200-meter run, seventh grader Tanner Daniels placed 19th.
“Tanner (Daniels) had a good day. This was one of the hottest state meets I can remember, and it was absolutely brutal by the 3,200-meter run,” Vitatoe said. “That, combined with competing in region and middle school state in the last 10 days made it tough, but he battled hard until the end.”
Dallas Sergent was 18th in the 110-meter hurdles and 17th in the 300-meter hurdles.
“I’m really proud of Dallas,” Vitatoe said. “He ran great in both hurdle events and he’s going to make another big jump in those events next year.”
In pole vault, Landon McCreary placed 14th, setting a new school record. Jayce Brown was 15th.
“Landon had a huge day. I can’t say enough about his performance and his determination today. He had to borrow a pole from someone for reasons outside of our control and he dialed in, competed his tail off, and set a new record in the pole vault. I’m proud of him. Jayce had a big day as well, equaling his season best,” Vitatoe said.
Connor Blevins was 11th in shot put.
“I can’t say enough about Connor Blevins,” Vitatoe said. “I know he’s not pleased with his performance today, but he’s meant so much to our program and has nothing to hang his head about. He’s one of the best in the state and has been his entire career. We don’t place our worth on one day. We look at our entire body of work, and his is impressive.”
In the 4 x 800 meter relay, Austin Crain, Kyle Farley, Jacob Schwenke and Yeary finished 14th.
“The boys 4 x 800 meter relay competed hard. Kyle, Jacob, Andrew and Austin ran hard and I’m really proud of them. I’m so appreciative of Austin, Andrew and Kyle and what they’ve meant to our program. I’m glad they were able to end their careers at the state meet,” Vitatoe said.
Kaleb Michael and Brayden Clay medaled in unified shot put, placing second.
“This was a highly competitive meet, one of the strongest in recent memory. I’m proud of our kids,” Vitatoe said. “I want to thank my coaching staff, the administration at HCHS, the county board and a wonderful group of parents and volunteers. Because of these groups of people, the track program continues to flourish. I sincerely appreciate all they do.”

Harlan County junior Dallas Sergent placed 18th in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2A state meet on Friday. (Carrie Mattingly)


Harlan County sophomore Peyton Lunsford finished 18th in the 1,600-meter run on Friday at the 2A state meet. (Carrie Mattingly)
Lauren Lewis, a seventh grader, competed in the 4×800 relay team at HCHS that finished 19th in the 2A state meet. (Carrie Mattingly)
Luke Kelly, a Harlan County sophomore, was 16th in the 100-meter dash on Friday at the 2A state meet in Lexington. (Carrie Mattingly)
Ella Karst, a Harlan County junior, placed 20th in the 100-meter dash on Friday at the University of Kentucky. (Carrie Mattingly)
Seth Robinson and Tanner Griffin placed first in the unified shot put state competition for three consecutive years.