By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Chillicothe High School's 2013 track-and-field season is off to its latest start in memory, thanks to inclement weather. Based on their showing in Friday's inaugural staging at the school's sparkling new Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium of the annual Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays, the Lady Hornets and Hornets seem bent on making up for lost time.
The Lady Hornets regained the Shy Relays title they'd earned – for the first time since 2005 – two years ago, wresting it from defending champion Maryville by 101⁄2 points, 1171⁄2-107. MHS' Lady Spoofhounds had owned the event's team crown five of the previous six years.
"We're always fighting Maryville at the end," Chillicothe girls' head coach Karen Jackson commented. "…I was pleased that we beat them."
"I thought had good shot going in," she added. "We have a little more depth in all our races this year, but (because of the weather-plagued early-season schedule) I wasn't sure what everybody else might have."
The boys' division title race also came down to a Maryville-Chillicothe duel not decided until the last event. Leading by six points entering the final race, Maryville won the 1,600-meters relay to finish with 123 team points, 13 more than the runnerup Hornets.
"It was a good way to start our (competitive) meets," CHS boys' head coach Bill Shaffer remarked. "Hopefully we can build on it."
Barring more interference from the weather, which is very possible, the Hornets and Lady Spoofhounds won't have to wait long to try to reverse Friday's outcomes. Chillicothe will be among the participants in the annual Maryville Relays tomorrow, if they can be held.
Chillicothe athletes – either individually or as relay-race units – won seven of the 36 Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays events.
For the Lady Hornets, star hurdler Erin Gilliland took the highs and Lexi Snyder, also a junior, the triple jump, while CHS' 400- and 800-meters relay squads prevailed (full Chillicothe results, including listings of relay runners, appear at the bottom of the next page).
For the Hornets, a trio of seniors – David Hershberger in the high jump, Andrew Jensen in the 3,200-meters run, and Alec Whiteside in the discus throw – came out on top.
The meet's Bob Carter Gold Shoe Awards for team points generated by individual performances went to sophomore Morgan Prather of Hamilton, who racked up 321⁄2 with individual victories in the three sprint races and a leg on the Lady Hornets' victorious 1,600-meters relay, and Treyton Burch of Maryville, who netted 301⁄2 with triumphs in both hurdle races and a spot on the winning 1,600-meters relay and a second in the long jump.
For CHS, Gilliland showed the way with 23 points via her win, a second place in the low hurdles, and being on the winning relays.
Page 2 of 2 - Whiteside, adding a second in the shot put to his discus prevalence, and Hershberger tied for the Hornets' individual lead with 18 points apiece. Hershberger scored in four events, supplementing his win with a fifth place in the intermediate hurdles, a sixth in the highs, and a part in a fifth-place relay,
Friday's action marked the first team track-and-field competition at the new Litton Stadium, which opened just in time for football and soccer competition last August. Some of the track-and-field components of the facility remained under development into this spring. In fact, the discus throwing field – with only sparse grass cover currently, due to the late spring, was too muddy for the event to be conducted at the "time trials" (non-team scoring) meet held in late March.
"We were excited to have it here," Shaffer said of the new facility.
Their outdoor preseason work and their early scheduled competitions curtailed significantly by cold, snow, and other weather non-conducive to honing their skills and conditioning, the Chillicothe teams nevertheless quickly demonstrated that the anticipation that both could have very fine campaigns in 2013 is justified.
Jackson acknowledged that the showing in the opening meet made the season's prospects "very promising."
With every one of them helping to create the eventual difference in the team standings, the Lady Hornets scored in all 18 events, including four second places and two thirds.
Like Gilliland, Madison Williams scored in four events – three of them relays – and several other CHS girls were in the top eight in three.
Overall, Jackson observed, most of the CHS competitors involved (each school was limited to two entries per non-relay event and one relay team) improved their performances from the prior week's "time trials" outing, several of them "quite a bit."
While the Lady Hornets provided the team highlight for Chillicothe, the boys had the far-more-dramatic improvement in the team realm and the single most-dynamic individual effort of the day.
After finishing a whopping 93 points behind Maryville's Spoofhounds (although that still was good for third place) a year ago, the Hornets pushed them to the very last race this time before falling 13 points short as MHS won the Shy title for a second year in a row.