TENNERTON - The Elkins High School boys and girls track teams are gearing up to qualify athletes in today's Class AAA, Region II Championships at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
The meet will begin with field events at 11 a.m.
The top three individuals in each event automatically qualify for the state meet, which is scheduled for May 23-24 in Charleston.
With four regional meets around the state, that makes 12 automatic qualifiers and the remaining four best distances and times will be taken "at-large" based upon the marks recorded in the various regions.
For the boy's team, the Tigers most consistent performance has come from the 4x800 relay comprised of Matt Wallace, Remington Knight, Austin Hamrick, and Chris Bodkin. The team has won every race but one this season and currently boasts the sixth best time in the entire state.
"The boys are really excited with the opportunity to qualify for the state meet as a relay this season," EHS boys coach Matt Lewis said. "They've been extremely determined and I'm expecting a big performance from them."
The 4x400 relay of Wallace and Knight, along with Daniel Crawford and Dylan Lucas will also look to get through to the state meet. The team currently sets just outside the top 10 in the runwv.com power rankings.
"It'll be interesting to see if this relay can sneak their way into the state meet.," Lewis said. "This line up has only been together one meet, so anything is possible."
Outside of the relays, the Tigers are hopeful to qualify some individuals into next weekends state championships. Wallace will be looking to make a second straight trip to Charleston in the 1,600, where he currently is ranked sixth in the state. Crawford will also look to make the championships in the long jump, after taking home the Big 10 Conference title last Friday.
"Matt has been running extraordinarily well this season and is just shy of breaking the school record in the 1,600, which I'm expecting him to do at the state meet next weekend," Lewis said. "Daniel has only been with us for a couple of meets this year, because he is a multi sport athlete competing in baseball for the tigers, but he's peaking at the right time."
Wallace, alongside teammate Knight, will also look to qualify in the 800-meter run for the Tigers.
"I'd love to see both of those guys qualify.," Lewis said. "They've been so consistent and if they run the race their capable of, they'll take care of business."
Senior Michael Beckwith will also look to get to his first state track meet this season. Beckwith will be competing in the shot put and discus for the Tigers.
"Michael's got a great shot if he can just put a couple of throws together," Lewis said.
Other Tigers competing are Cord Elmer, Caleb Means and Zach Judy in the sprints, while Dalton Hamrick, Will Gongola, Brendan Wallace and Jacob Earle will compete in the distance events. In the throws, Brant Hyre, Zach Hyre, Devan Ricottilli and Jerrick Reams will compete. Wallace will also compete in the pole vault for Elkins.
"I'm excited to see our performances (today) on both the boys and girls side," Lewis said. "Both teams have worked so incredibly hard all season. I really hope they turn out the performances they're capable of and qualify for the state meet. We've just got to show up and do exactly what we've been doing, because it all comes down to this one day."
For the Lady Tigers, junior Kathlyne Simmons has plans to make her third consecutive appearance in the state meet after qualifying in the 200-meter dash and long jump as a freshman and the long jump again as a junior. She'll compete in the long jump and 200 again this year along with the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
Sophomore Jontasia Sitton is hoping that she can repeat and improve upon her state qualifying performances from last year. After setting a school record of 37 feet, 4 inches, she is seeded third in the region.
Several newcomers are also hopeful of individual berths.
Olivia Underwood, along with Simmons, has several marks in the long jump of over 15 feet, which may put both girls in contention for a spot in the finals in that event.
Skylee Watson has established a new school record in the pole vault of over 7 feet but is seeded better in the 800, where her personal best time of 2:31 puts her fourth in the region.
The Lady Tigers strongest relay appears to be in the 4x400, where Underwood and Watson team up with Skout Barger and Alexis Brandon.
"That relay has been a nice surprise this year. All four of those girls are soccer kids who are very competitive and versatile athletes," said EHS girls head coach Scott Biola.
Biola is also hopeful that the 4x100, 4x200 and shuttle hurdle relays have a shot at qualifying. Simmons, Barger, Underwood, Paige Harrison, Lindsay Roy, Bailey Topping and Hailea Harper are also involved in those events.
"If we do everything correctly in any of those events, we are in the hunt for a trip to Charleston," added Biola. "If Paige or Skout has a good day in the 300 hurdles, we may be looking at another possibility. I'd just like to see all of our kids end the year on a high note by putting forth their absolute best efforts."