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Bedford County has suddenly become something of the muscle-flexer in the world of indoor track.
While there has (seemingly) always been decent, sometimes sparkling, performances from individual tracksters, it has been a long time since the county has shown up so strongly in the sport.
At last weekend's Region III championship, that strength was on display all day long as county tracksters nailed event after event.
That profligacy manifested itself in respectable team scores.
Men's best in Region III
1. E.C. Glass 93
2. Amherst Co. 83
3. Heritage 52
4. Liberty 41
5. Staunton River 31
Women's best in Region III
1. E.C. Glass 104
2. Heritage 68
3. Jeff Forest 48
4. Liberty 46
5. Northside 43
The Jefferson Forest boys finished 16th out of 20 schools. Staunton River's girls were ninth.
There were 30 total events, and Bedford athletes took first place in eight of them.
Local girls winners
-Alyssa Shupe, Jefferson Forest, 1000 meters, 3:04.59
-Kennedy Flynn, Liberty, 1600 meters, 5:20.84
-Erin Saunders, Jefferson Forest, 3200 meters, 11:45.68
-Lillian Garrecht, Staunton River, Pole vault, 10' 4"
-Mikalah Jones, Liberty, Triple Jump, 36', 10"
Local boys winners
-Craig Danner, Liberty, 500 meters, 1:06.65; high jump, 6' 0"
-Liberty 4 x 800 relay (Danner, Justin Haupt, Austin Roney, Zach Carter), 8:17.07
Danner set a meet record in the 500 meters and the Minutemen 4 x 8 crew fell two ticks of the clock short of establishing a new Region III mark of excellence.
Bedford County, once again, showed its strength in the female longer distances. Jefferson Forest's Alyssa Shupe was shuperb in taking the 1000. Second place in that one was nabbed by Liberty's Flynn.
Earlier, the Flyin' Flynn had taken the 1600 in dominating fashion. Fourth in that race was Forest's Saunders.
Saunders would later take the win in the 3200, giving Bedford the sweep of the long runs.
"I really didn't think about where I might place," said Shupe after her win. "I just ran my race. My time wasn't great, but it was better than my last (race)."
Shupe teamed up with Abby May, Taylor White and Elizabeth Ruhland to earn second place in the 4 x 800 relay (10:03), a race they entered as the #3 seed. "I feel good about going to States," said Shupe, of her second bite at the apple. "I feel more comfortable than last time (when she went as a freshman)."
Meanwhile, Flynn improved her time in the mile by a full seven seconds in taking the gold, her first win at regionals in her three tries. While she called States "nerve-wracking," Flynn noted that Liberty should remain cool. "We're a seasoned team," she observed.
She'll be running the mile, the 1,000 and the 4 x 400 relay, along with Megan Beisser, RyAnn Ridley and Laura Garbarini.
That crew, which took third at regionals, will face some serious competition in the form of JF. The Lady Cav crew of Riley Lee, Carter Edwards, White and Shupe took second, at 4:14.94, a bit more than two seconds better than Liberty.
Speaking of relays, Liberty's 4 x 200 team of Sabri Parker, Deysia Baldwin, Ridley and Jones earned fifth, at 1:53.73.
What would a local track meet be without Garrecht? Not only did Leapin' Lily take the pole vault (three inches short of the meet record and 10 inches better than runner-up Casey Davis, of JF), she also picked up a second in the long jump, at 16' 8.5". Garrecht also nabbed fifth in the triple.
Speaking of jumpers, Liberty's long-distance lasses went at it. While Jones took the triple, she landed third in the long jump (15' 11.5"). Oksana Kitrell took sixth in both the long and the triple. We look forward to seeing OK at States.
Men make their mark
While the county women were making hay, there was no shortage of talent on the men's side.
Danner (see sidebar) was named Co-Performer of the Meet for his dominating work.
Staunton River's David Barrett, meanwhile, continues his remarkable recovery from the knee injury that sidelined his cross country season this past fall.
Barrett picked up a second-place finish in the 1600 meter run, showing he'll be a threat at States. Jefferson Forest's Ben Ottman had a nice run, as well. His fourth-place finish gave the Cavs their only team points.
Barrett also took fourth in the 1000, just ahead of Liberty's Haupt, who punched his ticket to States with a fifth place showing.
Folks are advised to watch out for the Parker Brothers this weekend at the LU games. Both will be running for SRHS at States as Colton Parker bagged a third place in the 500, with a 1:09. Meanwhile, his brother, Dalton, took fourth in the 55 meter hurdles, in a zesty 8.22 seconds, a personal best.
Colton Parker and Barrett also ganged up with Logan Merrill and Kyle Jones to deliver the baton in 3:39 in the 4 x 400 relay. That time shaved a full four seconds off the crew's previous best and earned a third place.
Liberty's Carter, who anchored the winning 4 X 800 relay team, picked up a bit of individual glory, as well. He nabbed sixth place in the 300, going 37.57 and punching his ticket to States.
Staunton River's Marcus Brown took sixth in the triple jump, throwing himself 1.25 inches short of the 40 foot mark.