HCHS sweeps Area 9 track titles

Harlan County continued its Area 9 domination, sweeping both the boys and girls races on Saturday at Coal Miners Memorial Stadium.
The HCHS girls edged Leslie County 183-174 with Middlesboro coming in third with 81 points. Perry Central was fourth with 60 points, followed by Harlan with 48, Letcher Central with 36, Jenkins with 29, Riverside Christian with 26, East Ridge with 24, Knott Central with 12 and Betsy Layne with 10.
“The development of this girls team this season has been incredible. They just keep getting better and better, and it has 100 percent to do with how hard they’ve been working in practice. I’ve been really pleased with how they’ve responded to the adversity we back in early April. That is a testament to our veteran girls, and to each of them willing to compete in three or four events if that’s what needed,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “To win six district titles in a row is an impressive accomplishment, and they are continuing to build on the foundation laid by the girls who came before them.”
The Harlan County boys finished with 232 points, well ahead of second place Letcher Central and its 104 points. East Ridge was third with 87 points, followed by Perry Central with 71, Leslie County with 65, Harlan with 50, Middlesboro with 45, Jenkins with 21 and Knott Central with 18.
“I’m really proud of these kids today. The boys came out on fire ready to push for a district title. I’ve been really pleased with how engaged this group has been. They just bring it every single meet. They’ve been incredible and they really seem to just keep improving as the season goes on,” Vitatoe said. “Winning a district title in any sport isn’t easy, and they accepted that challenge and really competed hard. I’m very proud of them.”
“This year has been nothing but excitement,” said Harlan coach Trent McKenzie. “With every practice and every meet, our kids are becoming more confident and have continued to get better. I am excited to see what the rest of the year has in store.”
Harlan County continued to dominate in the 100- and 200-meter relays as the foursome of Luke Kelly, Demarco Hopkins, Thomas Jordan and Luke Carr won both races.
Kelly was first in both the 100- and 200-meter races, just ahead of Hopkins. Jordan was third in the 200-meter race and fourth in the 100 meters with Harlan’s Jaedyn Gist and Johann Gist placing third and fifth, respectively.
Harlan County senior Matt Yeary also won twice, in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Teammate Dallas Sergeant was second in both races.
Andrew Yeary was first in both the 1,600-meter and 800-meter races with Daniel Joseph placing second in the 800.
Gavon Spurlock won in both the long jump and triple jump, with Harlan’s Kaleb McLendon finishing second in the long jump. McLendon was also second in the high jump.
Landon McCreary set a school record in winning the pole vault competition.
Harlan senior Cade Middleton won the shot put, with HC’s Connor Blevins placing second. Middleton was second in the discus.
Peyton Lunsford, a freshman, was a winner three times — the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races. She set a record in the 800.
Ella Karst won the 100-meter race and was second in the 200. Harlan’s Emma Owens was second in the 100-meter race.
Paige Phillips won the 100-meter hurdles.
Eighth-grader Maddi Middleton won the high jump.
Taylor Lunsford won the shot put and Lindsey Browning was the winner in the discus.
The 4 x 200 relay team of Emilee Eldridge, Karst, Brianna Howard and Taytum Griffin placed first. The 4 x 100 relay team of Eldridge, Karst, Phillips and Griffin also won.