The Buckhannon-Upshur girls will enter next weekend's state track meet in position to capture their third title in the past four years.
Emily Godwin and Lauren Cvechko are two of the premier track athletes in the state, and the Bucs' shuttle hurdle relay squad is the favorite going into the two-day event.
But what could be the difference in finishing first or runner-up in Charleston for B-U is points in a couple of events sometimes overlooked.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Joey Kittle
Buckhannon-Upshur’s Mercedes Dowell, left, and Mackenzie Leigh are two of the top discus and shot put performers in the state. The duo look to help lead the Bucs to a Class AAA title at next weekend’s state meet in Charleston.
Mackenzie Leigh and Mercedes Dowell have topped the runwv.com power top performance list all spring in the discus and shot put. Leigh's efforts in the shot put (41-09) and discus (137-08) are the best in the state, while Dowell is second in the shot put (38-04) and fourth in the discus (118-00).
"I guess you could say we're the secret weapons," said Leigh, who was the regional champion in both events. "We just want to do what we can to help the team win.
"We don't get a lot of publicity or see ourselves in the newspaper much, but we do our part."
The duo are doing just that, as Leigh and Dowell have finished one-two in nearly all of B-U's meets this year.
"We like to push one another to do well," Dowell said. "Megan (Wilfong) also does the same with us. We try to work together as a unit and want to see each other be successful."
Wilfong is among the top 10 in the state in the discus as well.
For Dowell, the upcoming state meet will signal the end of her prep career. She will take her talents to Marshall next year.
"We want to win a (team) title," she said. "As a senior, there's a little pressure since we fell short last year."
After winning state titles in 2010 and 2011, B-U finished runner-up to Morgantown in last year's state meet by just 10 points. The Mohigans once again stand in the way next week.
"We didn't get a chance to face (Morgantown) during the season," Dowell said. "So we're looking forward to the challenge."
Leigh, a junior, was runner-up in the shot put and fourth in the discus last year at the state meet, while Dowell finished second in the discus. She has finished in the top 10 in both events since she was a freshman.
"I'm hoping to throw well at states," Leigh said. "I didn't have a very good day (in regionals). I try to get a PR (personal record) on every throw and distance myself from the competition early."
The state meet will be held next Friday and Saturday at Charleston's Laidley Field.