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Counts, Jerrell, Calhoun among shining stars at M7 track and field meet

TANNER COOK • May 15, 2019 at 1:49 AM

CLINTWOOD — Bragging rights and regional bids were up for grabs during Tuesday’s Mountain 7 District track and field championships at Ridgeview.

When the dust settled, the team titles went to Abingdon’s girls and Union’s boys. Ridgeview’s girls and John Battle’s boys were runners-up.

On the girls’ side, there were two standout athletes that helped out their teams tremendously.

Ridgeview’s Nikole Counts won the high jump with a school record-breaking leap of 5-3 — after breaking her own record twice by clearing 5-2. Counts also was fourth in the 100-meter dash (14.01), second in the 400 (1:03.80) and 200 (28.46) and fifth in the long jump (13-10.75).

“I love this. Track is something that gets me away from softball and it’s something that’s keeping me active all the time. I had a busy day, but I enjoyed it,” Counts said. “I hadn’t practiced high jump at all and I was nervous about trying to get 5-1 again. When they moved the bar up, my coach told me that it’s just a number. When I cleared 5-2, it was such a relief.”

Gate City’s Samantha Jerrell came up big as well. Her impressive day included winning the 100 (13.70), long jump (16-11) and triple jump (33-3), running a leg on the second-place 4x100 relay (53.53) and placing second in the 200 (28.84).

Jerrell’s leap in the long jump tied the school record.

Other event winners on the girls’ side included Gate City freshman Riley Houseright sweeping the shot put (34-3) and discus (115-4).

Abingdon’s Emily Mays swept the hurdles titles, winning the 100 (17.16) and 300 (50.88) by wide margins. She was also third in the long jump (15-0) and second in the triple jump (32-4.5) and ran the anchor leg for the winning 4x100 relay (52.73).

Abingdon’s Cassidy Farley won a close 400 over Counts, finishing in 1:03.58.

Ridgeview won the 4x800 relay (11:36.22), and two Central girls swept the 1,600 and 800 titles. Lauren Mulkey won the longer distance in 5:57.96 and Carlee Salyers won the two-lap race in 2:36.18.

Claire Melton of Battle won the 3,200 in 13:39.83 and Abingdon was victorious in the 4x400 relay.

Union’s boys got a challenge from Battle, but the duo of Avery Jenkins and Zion Mitchell competed in multiple events and earned points in all of them to keep the Trojans at bay.

Jenkins won the 300 hurdles (40.67) and high jump (6-2), was second in the 100 — by two one-hundredths of a second (11.47) — and was fourth in both the 200 (24.06) and long jump (19-4).

“I’ve been working hard all year trying to come back from getting second last year at state,” Jenkins said. “My main focus is trying to win this year.”

Mitchell won the triple jump (40-1), was runner-up in the 110 hurdles (16.19), placed fourth in the high jump (5-8) and ran a leg on the runner-up 4x100 relay (45.95).

“My best event today was the triple jump,” Mitchell said. “This is my first year ever doing it and I want to work hard for my coach and my team.”

Gate City’s Michael Calhoun had a big win in the much-anticipated shot put competition with a best throw in the finals of 54-10, which was also a new personal best.

Calhoun beat out Union’s Justin Barnett for the first time this season; the two still lead VHSL Class 2 and are among the best in the entire state.

“I’ve thrown farther in practice, but I’ve had trouble transitioning to meets. Lord willing, I’ll keep adding to it because that was a 4-inch personal best today,” Calhoun said.

“This is not just me, it’s my teammates, too. We’ve been working hard. It feels good to get these good ones in. ... I love throwing against other good people. It drives you and makes you want to work harder.”

Barnett did bounce back and win the discus with a toss of 156-3.

In the relays, Battle took the 4x800 and 4x400 titles. Reed Samuel was a force for the Trojans, winning the 400 (52.15), 200 (22.63) and long jump (21-2.5).

Central won the distance events, Andrew Deel taking the 3,200 (10:24.29) and Austin Yeary the 1,600 (4:59.82).

Ridgeview won the 4x100 in 44.16 and Central’s Maddox Reynolds won the 110 hurdles in 15.12. The Wolfpack’s Issac Lockhart won the 100 (11.47).

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