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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
LOUISVILLE — All Billy Thompson needed was a second chance.
After nearly getting kicked off the North Hardin High School track and field team earlier this spring, Thompson, a junior, didn’t let the opportunity go to waste at the KHSAA State Track and Field Championships.
Thompson won the 19-competitor high jump in a jump-off with Madisonville junior Jonathon Hood, clearing six feet, seven inches on Friday at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
“I keep teasing Billy, and I hope he doesn’t mind, but I keep reminding him, ‘Look how close you came to ruining this,’” said veteran North Hardin coach James Webb. “I was very close to kicking him off the team. He was doing open gym basketball when we were having practice.”
Webb interrupted a pick-up game Thompson was playing in one day at the school.
“Unfortunately that’s not the first time that’s ever happened,” Webb said. “That was a tense moment. I didn’t pull him off to the side; I walked right into the middle of his game and interrupted it and asked him what he was going to do. He dropped his head and walked off the court. What a storybook ending if you think about it.”
The bar was first set at 6-foot-8 to start the jump-off, but both Thompson and Hood missed. The bar was then lowered an inch and Thompson just cleared it.
Now he has his sights set on a two-peat.
“It gives me a boost of confidence for next year,” Thompson said. “The goal is to win State again. I want to win again. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Thompson wasn’t the area’s only state champion:
BREION HARRIS. A North Hardin senior, Harris became North Hardin’s first triple jump champion with a jump of 47 feet, 5.5 inches.
Harris beat Louisville Ballard senior Antonio Brown by more than two feet.
“I really wanted to go for the record (48-10.50), but I couldn’t get there,” Harris said. “I tried for it, but I came up about eight inches short.”
Harris won the title on his first jump of the day on Friday.
“It’s a foregone conclusion,” Webb said. “He’s a class young man. Great student, wonderful leader, just always upbeat. Here’s a young man who ends his career with a state championship.”
Harris’ track career may not be over.
Harris has a full academic scholarship to the University of Louisville and wants to join the track team, which boasts sophomore Andre Black, who recently won the national championship in the triple jump.
“They have the national champion in the triple jump,” Webb said. “So who better for him to learn from?”
BRANDON BAGLEY. From a relative unknown from Georgia to state champion, the John Hardin High School sophomore has come a long way since moving to the Bluegrass State.
Bagley won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.81 seconds, beating out Boone County senior Mercier Doucette (15.45).
“I still hit a lot of hurdles, but I still won,” Bagley said. “It’s probably not my best race, but it’s all good.”
Bagley could have competed for a sweep in the hurdles events, but was disqualified for knocking over a hurdle in the Class 3-A, Region 2 Meet at Louisville St. Xavier.
“It makes up for it a little bit. I’m still mad about it,” Bagley said. “I still can’t stop thinking about it, but I am happy though.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752