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Indoor track and field shines in Bburg

In the movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh TV weather forcaster, who is caught in an endless recycling of the same day, Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.


The Pulaski County Cougar boys’ track team might like to have every day be like the Groundhog Day they just had Saturday, Feb. 2, when they competed at the Blacksburg Polar Bear Track Meet and came away with the team win over the host Bruins and 13 other area teams.


The girls’ team fared well too, placing second in a 15 team field coming up only a few points short of the win despite limiting their best runner, Grace Boone, to one event.


For team scoring, the top eight finishers scored with a declining number of points from first to eighth place.


A Polar Bear Meet is a track meet held outdoors during the winter Indoor Track season. Despite its name and the fact that it came in the same week as an Arctic Vortex, the conditions were nearly ideal with temperatures in the 50s, partly sunny skies and light winds. The Cougar and Lady Cougar teams took advantage to set many of their best individual times and distances of the season in their final regular season meet before competing in the Regional and State championships.


The boys’ 4 x 800-meter team of Noah Whitlow, Cade Compton, Shaun King and Julian Black, all seniors, started the meet off with a big win and a fast enough time to automatically qualify for the State Meet. Their time of 8:26 ranks them second in the Region 4D and fourth in the State 4A heading into the postseason.


Whitlow and Compton bookended their days by placing second and fourth respectively in the 3,200 meter (two mile) race at the end of the meet. Senior James Guthrie also scored points for the team as he placed sixth in that race. For Whitlow, his time of 10:07 is a personal best and ranks him fifth in the region. Compton is ranked ninth.


It was also a big day for Shaun King. After the 4 x 800 he got a season-best time (1:08.79) and a second-place finish in the 500-meter. He followed that with personal-best time (37.11) and a third place finish in the 300-meter even though, as a distance runner, King didn’t use starting blocks. Those times rank King fifth in the region in the 500 and sixth in the 300.


Julian Black got a personal-best time (2:48) and a fourth-place finish in the 1,000-meter race, which ranks him ninth in the Region. Sophomore Zach Fox was fifth in that race, also setting a new personal-best time (2:49).


In the 55-meter sprint, freshman Armonte Lewis placed sixth, but was the top freshman in the race. Senior Nathan Rice was seventh. In the 55-meter hurdles, sophomore Lane Suthers was third and junior Brayden Smith was seventh.

In the field events the Cougars racked up several placings. Four Cougars scored in the high jump with freshman J.J. Gulley fourth, Armonte Lewis sixth, Lane Suthers seventh and junior Landon McDaniel eighth. In that event, Gulley and Lewis are tied for seventh in the region.


In the long jump, the Cougars also captured four of the top eight places to score team points. Lewis was second, Gulley placed third , fellow freshman John Lyman finished seventh and McDaniel was eighth.


Two Cougars scored in the shot put as juniors Jacob Akers was sixth and Tristen Bowden was eighth.


As a team, the Cougars’ 94 points easily won the meet. Liberty Christian was second with 71, host Blacksburg was third with 67 and Auburn was fourth with 61 in the field of 15 teams.


For the Lady Cougars, sophomore Kelsey Arnold led the way with four first place finishes. She won the 55-meter dash (7.64 seconds), the 55-meter hurdles (8.77 seconds), the long jump (16’2 ¾”) and the triple jump (35 feet). Arnold added an eighth place finish in the 300-meter to score 41 of the team’s 86.5 total points.


The Lady Cougars finished second behind Blacksburg girls’ 90 points. Cave Spring was third with 68 and Liberty Christian was a distant fourth with 42.5 in the 15 team field.


Pulaski County got another first place individual performance from senior Grace Boone. She won the only event she competed in, outdistancing the competition in the 1,600 (one mile) run in a time of 5:13. Senior Betsy Nall placed third in that race (5:40).


Sophomore Presley Martin placed in three events. She was fifth in the 55-meter dash, fifth in the 55-meter hurdles, and sixth in the high jump.


Senior Shanese Lewis placed in two events with fourth place finishes in the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter run.


Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Cougars were sophomore Allyson Castle with fourth in the 1,000-mete, freshman Courtney Cregger seventh in the 500-meter and Lacey Custer eighth in the shot put.


Both teams will compete for the VHSL 4A Region D Championship Feb. 16 at Roanoke College in Salem. Then the qualifying individuals advance to the 4A State Meet at the same location Feb. 22-23.



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