By Tanner Cook
BIG STONE GAP — Wednesday’s Region 2D outdoor track and field championships at Bullitt Park turned into a parade of navy and orange by the end of the day.
The homestanding Union Bears copped the boys team title, racking up 150 points and easily outdistancing runner-up Tazewell (105).
On the girls’ side, it was a much different story as longtime rivals John Battle and Virginia High duked it out until the final three events.
Battle was able to come out on top with 85 points, barely edging out the Lady Bearcats by 10.
Tazewell’s Cassius Harris was named the Athlete of the Meet on the boys’ side while Marion’s Gracie Umbarger received the girls’ honor.
The top four individuals in each event and relay teams advance to next Saturday’s Class 2 state championships at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
JENKINS just MISSES TRIPLE
Union’s Malachi Jenkins had a banner day and a huge hand in helping his team to the title.
Jenkins was a double winner in the 110-meter hurdles (17.42) and the high jump (6-2). Jenkins was also the leadoff leg in the winning 4x100 relay (45.99).
“I had a really good day, but it could have been better,” Jenkins said. “I enjoy track because I enjoy competing and I hate to lose.
“It also helps with football. I’m unbeaten in high jump this year and I’ve cleared 6-4 several times.”
Jenkins remarked that it has been nice not running against Wise Central state hurdling champion Maddox Reynolds.
Reynolds was injured in the spring football season, and warming up for last week’s Mountain 7 District championships, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and did not compete on Wednesday.
“That helps a lot not having to compete against Maddox,” Jenkins said. “He’s really good and has pretty much been doing it his whole life.”
Jenkins barely lost in the 300 hurdles, as Lee High’s Nick Napier out-leaned him in the final stretches with a time of 43.73. Jenkins crossed in 43.75.
Jenkins was also sixth in the long jump (17-5) and fourth in the triple (36-5.25).
HOUSERIGHT DOUBLES UP
Gate City junior standout thrower Riley Houseright came to play when she needed to, winning both the shot put and discus competitions.
In the shot put, Houseright had a personal best throw of 35-10 and won the event by more than three feet.
In the discus, she threw her second-furthest ever with a heave of 108-10 to win by 12 feet. Her best is 115 feet from her freshman year.
“I felt reallly good about all of my throws today,” Houseright said. “I’m really excited about going to state. It should be a lot of fun and I think it will end up being pretty good for me.”
LARGE COMES UP BIG
Wise Central senior sprinter Hannah Large was big for the Lady Warriors in both individual and relay events.
Large took home gold in the 100 meters, beating out Umbarger with a time of 13.46 seconds.
“I came out the blocks strong and I got my first two steps in pretty quick,” Large said. “That’s pretty much what won it for me. The Marion girl and I were head-on at first, but it was a good start and finish.”
She was also on the anchor leg of the winning 4x100 relay that wound up running 55.28 and had to rally on the final exchange to pull out the victory.
“We had a bad handoff on the third leg and that girl was about 50 yards in front of me, so I had to catch,” Large said. “I didn’t think I was going to do it at first, but I ended up doing it.”
YOUNGSTER ON THE HORIZON
One of the brightest performances of the meet was Ridgeview’s Brandon Beavers, who scorched the 400 in 51.81 and won by more than two seconds.
He was also the anchor leg of the Wolfpack’s 4x400 relay that ran 3:44.91.
His split running all alone was around 53 seconds.
And he’s just a sophomore.
“I knew coming in that I had everything that I needed to win and I just needed to go out and prove it,” Beavers said. “I started off fast and I made up the stagger about halfway. I turned it on from there.
“I came into this year as a short distance sprinter and about four meets ago, my coaches said I should try the 400. I ran a 56 the first time out and my times have gone down ever since then.”