Area track and field athletes shine on ‘Big Stage’
Area athletes turned in a superb showing at Saturday’s track and field Finals.
Allendale-Fairfax High, Barnwell High, Blackville-Hilda High and Williston-Elko High along with 69 other high schools competed for the top prize at Spring Valley High School on May 13.
Barnwell High coach Thomas Davis had 16 athletes competing. It was the most for the school since its state champion in 1999 under then-coach Michael Highsmith.
Davis said he was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“I thought we really competed well today just like we have done all season,” Davis said. “We won several medals, including another gold for Marcus McKethan.”
In the boys class AA discus throw, Marcus McKethan of Barnwell High made it known that last year’s gold medal was no fluke. McKethan turned in a repeat performance, hurdling the discus a personal best 162 feet and five inches to take home his second straight gold.
“It’s just a great feeling to win the gold again,” McKethan said. “I’m very proud to represent Barnwell High as a state champion. I’d like to thank my family, coaches, friends.”
Moments later, Hammonds placed fourth in the shot put with a throw of 45 feet and seven inches.
Deon Priester of Allendale-Fairfax High has won four medals in his three previous trips at the State Finals. On Saturday, Priester captured his fifth medal, taking the bronze in the discus with a throw of 146 feet and two inches.
Demoray Devoe of Allendale-Fairfax High became the first AHFS athlete for more than 20 years to reach the finals in the event in the pole vault competition. Devoe placed seventh in the event.
For Barnwell High, Keyshawn Jenkins and Reggie Roberts won the bronze in their respective events. Jenkins placed third in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet. Roberts’ jump of 54 feet and two inches was good enough for a third in the triple jump.
Daylan Dickerson of Blackville-Hilda High came in seventh place in the class A long jump event.
In the class A 100-meter relay, Blackville-Hilda High’s team of John Williams, Dayian Dickerson, Chris Williams and JaQuaivian James came in seventh place.
In the class AA 100-meter relay, Barnwell High’s team of B.J. Patterson, Brandon Harvey, Anton Buxton and Keyshawn Jenkins placed seventh.
Barnwell High Derin Hammon took fifth place in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:04.86.
For Allendale-Fairfax High, Justin Dunbar ran a strong race, placing seventh in the 400-meters with a time of 53.22.
In the 800-meters, Frank Oliver of Allendale-Fairfax High took seventh place. He was followed by teammate Justis Sparrow, who placed eighth.
Tyrah Spann of Barnwell High did well competing in his first competition at state. Spann placed seventh in the high jump competition.
The Allendale-Fairfax 400-meter relay team of Justin Dunbar, Bryan Bolden, Damoray Devoe and Justis Sparrow finished in sixth place. They were followed in seventh by a Barnwell High team of Dante Rhodes, Makel Corley, Marcus Robinson and Anton Buxton.
In the class AA 200 meters, JaQuaivian Dickerson of Blackville-Hilda High placed seventh.
In the girls competition, Shaniya Hammonds of Allendale-Fairfax highlighted the the local high schools.
For Hammonds, hard work and perseverance paid off her in the class AA 400-meter dash.
After finishing sixth in the 100-meter dash, Hammonds was a little disappointed.
“I definitely wasn’t pleased with my finish in the 100. I knew I could have better,” Hammonds said.
Moments later, Hammonds, quickly redeemed herself. She battled favorite Tarney Pepper of Christ Church at the finish line before taking the silver medal in the event with a season best time of 59.98. Peeper won the gold with a time of 59.40.
“I ran as hard as I could. I definitely wanted the gold, but it also felt good to win the silver,” said Hammonds.
Hammonds went on to wrapped up her day of competition by placing seventh place in the 200-meters.
Tahjanique Youmans of Denmark-Olar also shined in her event. Youmans brought home the silver medal in the class A long jump with a distance of 16-feet, two-inches.
Anajae James of Barnwell High was competing in her first state competition. James turned in an impressive showing in the triple jump event with a fourth place finish in the class AA. James had a personal best jump of 34-feet, one and a half inches.
In a grueling 3200-meter run, Blackville-Hilda High’s eighth grader Rishona Washington ran a superb race, taking fourth place in the class A run with a time of 17:04.57.
For Williston-Elko High, Kristen Ulmer also did well in her first state finals. Ulmer finished fifth in the class A 1600-meters with a personal best time of 6:46.44
In the class AA 1600-meters, Aniya Smith came in seventh place with a time of 6:29.38
In the class AA 800-meter relay, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High team of Olivia Hyland, Jade Freeman, Lashaunda Robinson and Angel Jackson finished seventh with a time of 11:57.46.