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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
LOUISVILLE — Eight is enough.
Longtime Class 2-A powerhouse Paducah Tilghman has won eight consecutive girls’ track and field state championships, but the Blue Tornado might have some company this year in the Elizabethtown Lady Panthers at the KHSAA State Track and Field Championships beginning today at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
“They look pretty good going in,” said Elizabethtown coach Dickie Jones. “We have several that have an opportunity to medal (the top eight finishers in each of the 18 events).”
And after a dominating performance in the Class 2-A, Region 2 Track and Field Meet last weekend at LaRue County, Jones has his reasons to be optimistic.
The Lady Panthers have four individuals and three relay teams seeded in the top five of their respective events.
“When we look at the performance listings, the opportunity is there,” Jones said. “It’s probably the best opportunity we’ve had since I’ve been coaching. I think our girls will be up to the challenge. We could definitely be in the hunt.”
Senior Madison Kuklinski is seeded first in the pole vault (8 feet, 6 inches), eighth-grader Jessica Gabhart is seeded first in the 300-meter hurdles (48.61 seconds), eighth-grader Whitney Maurer is second in the 3,200 run (12:04.55) and fifth in the 1,600 run (5:38.04) and freshman Denisha Nichols is third in the discus (99-10).
The team of Kuklinski, sophomore Chantee White and juniors Deanna Maurer and Kaylee Gabhart is seeded second in the 1,600 relay (4:14.53), the team of White, Kuklinski, Brianna Burt and Kristen Ballard is seeded third in the 800 relay (1:50.78) and the foursome of Whitney Maurer, Kaylee Gabhart, Taylor Perkins and Samantha Matherly is seeded fourth in the 3,200 relay (10:33.54).
On the boys’ side, senior Evan Hiles is seeded third in the pole vault (11-06.00). Sophomore Chris Ulis (third, 41.03.50) and junior Xavier Wilson (seventh, 40-03.50) are both seeded in the triple jump.
Class 1-A events begin at 9 a.m. today, Class 2-A begins at 1:30 p.m. and Class 3-A begins at 6.
For a full list of area participants, see Page C5.
JOHN HARDIN. Freshman Hanna Alcock, sophomore Maggie Mattingly, junior Alex Burgess and senior Kristia Worthy are the top-seeded foursome in the 3,200 relay. Burgess, Mattingly and Worthy are going for their second consecutive state championship in the event, while Alcock served as an alternate on last year’s team.
Mattingly is also seeded first in the 800 run (2:21.55) after an impressive run to the Region 2 title last week at Louisville St. Xavier.
Sophomore Brandon Bagley is the top seed in the 110 hurdles (15.01), while senior Aundreas Lopez is fifth in the 800 run (1:59.32).
The team of Bagley, Lopez and seniors Matt Denham and Stephen Warsaw is seeded second in the 1,600 relay (3:24.46), 1.36 seconds behind top-seeded Louisville Male. Denham is also seeded second in the 400 (49.13) and ninth in the 200 (23.02) dashes.
MEADE COUNTY. Veteran coach Larry Garner has lost a lot of sleep over the last few weeks.
That’s because the Lady Waves have a quartet of talented youngsters the team hasn’t had in quite some time.
“I didn’t sleep well going to last weekend,” Garner said. “I get so nervous for them. I always just get keyed up and nervous at this time of year. I think we’ll see some really good performances. And the exciting thing is they’re all very young.”
It starts with sophomore Shelby Jenkins, who is seeded second in the 800 run (2:21.97) and runs a leg on the fifth-seeded 3,200 relay team along with eighth-grader April Level, freshman Tiffany Brown and sophomore Kim Dukes (9:54.35).
“She (Jenkins) ran a good race at region,” Garner said. “Shelby was caught by surprise when Maggie went past her. She thought it would be Alex (Burgess) that was passing her. It’s going to be a heckuva race. That’s the biggest race of the day for us.”
Eighth-grader Marley Stanfield is seeded third in the 400 dash (59.52), while Level is 12th in the 3,200 run (12:16.24).
NORTH HARDIN. On the boys’ side, senior Billy Thompson is seeded first in the high jump (6-06.00) and senior Breion Harris is first in the triple jump (46-07.00). Senior Maurice Gosa is third in the triple jump (43-02.00).
Sophomore Andrew Stewart (1:59.32) and junior Greg Shepherd (2:00.23) are seeded fourth and ninth, respectively, in the 800 run, junior Marcellus Hobbs is sixth in the 400 dash (50.51), Stewart is fifth in the 1,600 run (4:32.46) and senior Dereck Poe is fifth in the shot put (47-02.00).
For the Lady Trojans, the team of seniors Desiree Russell and Linda Dixon and juniors Markeshia Woodson and Chandler Windham is seeded first in the 1,600 relay (4:03.74).
Seniors Deneasha Oggs (35-08.00) and Stacie Vaughn (35-06.50) are seeded third and fourth, respectively, in the shot put. Vaughn is also seeded fifth in the discus throw (104-11).
LARUE COUNTY. Sophomore Truman Padgett, seeded second in the 400 dash (51.75), has the best chance at winning a state championship since Cedrick Powell won the shot put title in 2005.
“I’m pretty confident in his ability,” LaRue County coach Jeremy Blair said. “I’ve seen him run against some of the best in the state. It’s a big confidence booster for him to run against guys like that.”
For the Lady Hawks, the quartet of senior Tesha Paysen, junior Haley Carrico and freshmen Valerie Whitlock and Lyndsay Whitlock is seeded sixth in the 1,600 relay (4:19.10).
FORT KNOX. The Lady Eagles qualified four individuals and one relay team for State.
Sophomores Tiana Benjamin (33-01.50) and Emmy Raney (31-09.50) are seeded third and 11th in the triple jump, eighth-grader Kiara Austin is seeded seventh in the 100 hurdles (17.80) and 13th in the 300 hurdles (51.41) and senior Ashley Ivory is seeded 14th in the 100 dash (13.67).
The team of Ivory, Benjamin and eighth-graders Whitney Tennant and Kerri Dyer is seeded 11th in the 800 relay (1:53.98).
Senior Anthony Bailey was the lone qualifier for the boys’ team. Bailey is seeded first in the discus (140-01) and third in the shot put (48-06.25).
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752