By JP Widner
SWT Sports Reporter
Abingdon- Persistence and hard work pays off in the track and field world. Five Cougar boys are now heading to the Virginia State Championships next Friday and Saturday in Harrisonburg due to just that. Ian Calfee will represent Pulaski County in the shot put and discus events while middle-distance runners Damon Akers, Chris Taylor, Daegan Friend and Cole Turman will race in the 3200 meter relay event.
Last Saturday, the Region 4 Track & Field Championships took place in far Southwest Virginia. Calfee captured third place in the shot put (51’ 5”) and eighth place in the discus (122’ 7”). His shot put throw was a personal best by five inches. Ian scratched on his first two throws in the discus event and had to settle for a “safe” throw to stay in the contest. The giant Cougar missed finals by just one inch. Calfee had already qualified for the state championship with an automatic qualifying discus throw in a previous meet. “I’m proud of Ian and his accomplishments,” said Head Coach Jamie McCarty. “We have really leaned on him all season, and he has consistently come through for us.”
The foursome of Akers, Taylor, Friend and Turman earned third place in the3200 meter relay race (8:44) to earn All-Regional and earn the trip to Harrisonburg. “Those four athletes have worked their tails off all year long,” said Coach McCarty. “I’m very proud of those guys.”
Lonnie Maddox and Quincy Rollins just missed qualifying for the state championships with seventh place finishes in the long jump (19’ 3”) and the triple jump (39’ 8 1/2”). Malik Eaves placed 11th in the 200 meters (24.16 seconds) and triple jump (38’). The 400 meter relay team (Cody Semones, Lonnie Maddox, Malik Eaves, Quincy Rollins) placed fourth in 3:42. The same members placed eighth in the 400 meter relay (47.73 seconds). James Reynolds threw a solid 44’ 10” for ninth place in the shot put.
“The VHSL practice rules have really put us in a pickle,” Coach McCarty continued. “We’ve had indoor track athletes who earned the Cougars important points only to have them abandon track for football conditioning/weightlifting. Just this past week, we lost valuable practice time with two of our athletes due to 7-on-7 football and basketball practice. It’s very frustrating to have the region’s third ranked triple jumper and long jumper not even score points for the team due to being exhausted from other sports offseason workouts.”
Blacksburg edged Christiansburg for the Region IV Championships 116-112. Salem finished a distant third with 76 points followed by Marion (52), Hidden Valley (42), Martinsville (32), Abingdon (27) and Bassett (17). Pulaski County and Patrick County tied for ninth place out of 15 teams (16 points) followed by Cave Springs (13), Magna Vista (7), Tunstall (1), Richlands (0) and Carroll County (0).