Emphasis on Regional Meet pays off for Lady ‘Cats track

Grafton qualifies athletes in seven events

GRAFTON—Grafton High School will be represented by the Lady Bearcats track team in multiple events next week at state competition. 

Throughout the season, Head Coach P.D. Louzy has put emphasis on the importance of the Regional Meet. 

“I told the girls at the beginning of the season that the only meet that matters is Regionals on May 11,” he shared.  “They heard that a lot.”

As a result of Louzy’s season-long reminder, nearly every member that participated in the Regional meet recorded their best times of the year, state-qualifying athletes in seven different events.  

Getting things started for the Lady Bearcats was sophomore standout Jerra Halbritter, a fairly newcomer to the sport,  who found her stride last season in the shot put and continues to be a formidable opponent. 

During the meet, Halbritter became an automatic qualifier landing in second place for the event with a throw of 32-10.25.

Following Halbritter’s solid performance, Hadley Horne would take to the track to put on a show of her own, pushing to a personal best in the 400-meter dash. 

With a time of 1:02.75, Horne earned third place in the event, also becoming an automatic qualifier. 

“Next up was the 4x800 team. This group has been solid all year,” Louzy noted.  

The team made up of Mckenzie Flohr, Horne, River Sipes and Emily Viani qualified At-Large, placing fifth with a finishing time of 10:34.69. 

The same group of Lady ‘Cats also represents GHS in the 4x400 relay and had an exceptional performance finishing sixth and qualifying At-Large with a time of 4:36.63, a new PR for the group. 

 “This was a nice surprise since it was only the second time, we’ve ran this event this year due to injuries,” commented Louzy. 

He shared that Viani was able to pass an opponent from Keyser coming down the home stretch, noting that if she hadn’t made the pass, the team would not have qualified. 

The third relay team to qualify for Grafton was the Shuttle Hurdle Relay team of Aleecia Shelton, Nevaeh Swisher, Jennah Charlton and Payden Morris. The Lady Bearcats finished strong at fifth with a time of 1:21.

Individually, Charlton also had a good day, clearing a season best 6-06 in the pole vault. 

“The highlight of the day was Emily (Viani) winning the 800-meter run,” voiced Louzy. 

With a time of 2:28.15, Viani earned the title of Regional Champion in the event and automatically qualified for the state meet. Viani is no stranger to the endurance it takes to run a solid race, as she was the only Lady ‘Cat to qualify for the State Cross Country meet last fall. 

“She ran a perfect race, took the lead with about 200-meters to go and never gave it up,” Louzy boasted. 

 Louzy shared that he is pleased with how the meet turned out for his Lady Bearcats and hopes to build off of what he saw at Regionals during State competition. 

“Turning in season bests has been the goal all year! We are seeded pretty good for most of these events, so hopefully, we can go down next week and score some points,” he asserted. 

In addition to the Lady ‘Cats, the Grafton boys track team will also receive some representation at states, as Seth Horne and the Bearcat Shuttle Hurdle Relay team also qualified for the meet. 

S. Horne placed third in the pole vault event, clearing 10-6 to earn automatic qualification, while the shuttle team comprised of Brayden McCullough, Hayden Derk, MJ Niggemeyer and S. Horne also qualified At-Large with a solid fifth place finish at Regionals and a time of 1:04.29.

The staff of the Mountain Statesman would like to congratulate these young men and women and wish them the best of luck competing at States! 

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