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Going the distance

Chris Dorst
Cabell Midland's Jacob Burcham (left) takes the handoff from teammate Brian Lawhon for the anchor leg of the Class AAA 4x800-meter relay Friday at the state high school track and field meet at Laidley Field. The Knights won the event in record fashion, turning in a time of 7:49.84.
Chris Dorst Scott's Haylie Damron competes in the Class AA long jump.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jacob Burcham didn't blow away the 9-minute mark in the 3200-meter run Friday at the state track meet, but he and his Cabell Midland teammates outdid themselves in the 4x800-meter relay.

With Avery Campbell providing a strong opening leg and Burcham finishing with a flourish, the Knights finished in 7 minutes, 49.84 seconds - 2.06 seconds faster than the 7:51.90 meet record set by the 1995 Hedgesville team.

Yes, the Knights planned to beat that record, considered amazing in its day.

"Coming in, that was our goal, to get that record," Burcham said. "I'm happy I did it for them in the anchor leg. Avery PR'd big-time in his leg. He's not an 800 runner, but he looked like it today. Mason [Dion] and Brian [Lawhon] did what they do, they're very consistent guys.

"I was just hoping I wouldn't blow it for him."  

Burcham thinks Campbell nipped the two-minute mark, and his own leg clocked in at about 1:53.

Several hours and an encroaching rain later, Burcham won the 3200 for the third year in a row, but his time was "only" 9:08.34 - well short of the historic 8:57.73 he ran last year. George Washington's Matt Brafford took the non-Burcham title in a strong 9:21.71.

Brafford did take a shoulder's advantage for 51/2 laps, until Burcham hit the gas.

"I didn't want to run that fast, but Brafford took me out pretty quick," Burcham said. "He was running pretty quick; that was good by him. I was going to sit on him until I felt him getting tired."

Burcham's run ended a string of six dominating performances in the 3,200, started by St. Marys' Maggie Drazba. She won by more than 92 seconds, lapping the field on the backstretch of the final lap. A few races later, it was time for Buffalo's Dylan Rich to put on a show.

The senior, who also helped the Bison win the 4x800, cruised to an 11-second victory with a time of 9:41.54, which didn't threaten any meet records. But that wasn't the point.

Like Burcham and most of the other 3,200 runners, Rich has the 1,600 this morning and 800 in the afternoon, with a repeat of the humid conditions of Friday afternoon possible.

"As long as the wind didn't blow, the rain didn't affect me," Rich said. "I'm trying to save some energy for tomorrow's races. I just wanted to get a commanding lead and be able to cruise it in."

Midland took a slight 32-29 edge over defending champion Jefferson after six events. The Cougars, known more for their sprint prowess, picked up two points in the 3,200 by answering Midland's 1-5 finish with a 3-4 punch.

Ritchie County took a 31-21 lead over Roane County in boys AA, with Webster County and Fairmont Senior tied at 18. In Class A, Doddridge County is ahead 35-24 over Williamstown, with Buffalo third at 23. Charleston Catholic is tied for fourth with 12.

Catholic's girls - Peyton Keener, Sarah Joseck, Quincy McKown and Payton Mullen  - started the day with a win in the 4x800, with Mullen outkicking Williamstown down the final 100 meters.

Williamstown has the team lead in girls Class A with 36 points, followed by Tucker County with 30. Catholic is fifth at 14.

Bridgeport is leading girls AA with 30 points, with Oak Glen second at 21. In girls AAA, Buckhannon-Upshur has a large advantage, 45-18, over Morgantown and Hurricane.

The Bucs swept the shot and discus, and took the shuttle hurdle relay for the fourth year in a row. And consider this: Emily Godwin has all four of her events today - the two hurdle races, the long jump and high jump.

Field events continue at 9 a.m. today, with the 400 beginning the running events at 10.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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