HHS boys finish eighth at Nationals PAM BOLTON/ SPECIAL TO THE TIMES-NEWS The Hendersonville boys 1,600-meter relay team at the indoor state meet in February: (from left to right) Eddie Hernandez, Darryl Demps, Brandon Neale and Tyler Combs.

From staff reports

Published: Sunday, March 15, 2009 at 5:17 p.m. Last Modified: Sunday, March 15, 2009 at 8:46 p.m.

BOSTON - Hendersonville's boys 1,600-meter relay team, composed of Darryl Demps, Tyler Combs, Eddie Hernandez and Brandon Neale, finished eighth overall with a time of 3:23.74 at the NIKE Indoor Nationals on Sunday in Boston's Reggie Lewis Arena.

Demps ran a 50.4, Combs a 51.7, Hernandez a 51.6 and Neale a 49.9 as the Bearcats finished second in their heat in the afternoon 1,600-meter relay finals. They were just two spots shy of earning All-American status.

They just did a tremendous job. They actually ran faster than their outdoor state championship time. We couldn't be more happy with our guys. Now we're loading up the RV and heading back to Hendersonville, HHS coach Pam Bolton said this afternoon.

The only other area athlete competing in Sunday's finals was Polk County's John Spencer Wolfe, who ran a 1:54.07 in the 800-meter run. He also ended up second in his heat and was 26th overall.

Coach (Alan) Peoples said that was their goal, to finish in under two minutes. John did a great job, and it's just incredible to be that far up against so many great athletes from all across the nation, Bolton said.

It was the first time in Bolton's career that she took anyone to Nationals, and she said it was an experience she will never forget.

It was just incredible, and for us to have the eighth best 4x400 team in the nation is just unbelievable. For a little 1-A school from Western North Carolina to come up here and do that well, it's something we'll always remember, she said.

The team also got to meet Olympic 400-meter gold medalist Lashawn Merritt and bronze medalist Walter Dix.

The boys were just thrilled. They got to get Lashawn's autograph, Bolton said. It's been a great experience.

The team rented an RV and was heading back to the North Carolina mountains this evening.

Right now we're trying to find our way out of Boston. We are going to pretty much drive through the night to get back Monday, and on Tuesday, we have the Jus Running Relays at Roberson, Bolton said.