RIPLEY - This past Saturday the Whiteoak Junior High boys track and field team took part in the annual Southern Hills League Championships in Ripley, where the Whiteoak runners returned home as league champions.

Whiteoak had 12 different boys score points to total 135 points to secure the win over the other eight SHL teams, including county rival Fairfield, who took second with 97 points.

Of the 14 events, Whiteoak won five, finished second in seven others, and added a third and a fifth place finish.

Earning first-place finishes were Cory Garrison in the 100 and 200-meter races with times of 11.9 and 24.3.

Zach Docter, in his first ever appearance in the shot put, out threw the field by more than three feet to win the event.

Luke Taggert ran a personal best in the 200m hurdles (28.9), and Leonard Becraft had a personal best throw of 88-6 to win the discus event.

Coach Hughes stated his happiness with these athletes after the event.

Cory proved to be the league's fastest kid, and scored 28 points in the meet to win medalist honors, he said. Zach never participated in the shot put event, except for a few times in practice, and willingly switched from his best event to score more team points in the shot.

Taggert did three events and achieved personal bests in all three. That's called stepping it up when it matters the most.

Hughes was especially pleased with the meet's surprise winner. The surprise of the day was Leonard Becraft, as he was hoping to finish in the top eight to score a point or two, and he winds up throwing his personal best by 13 feet to win the event, and score 10 points for the team.

Finishing with second place finishes were Justin Berkley in the high jump (5-0), Leonard Becraft in the Shot Put (31-9), Luke Taggert in the 110m hurdles (18.18), Cory Garrison in the long jump (17-4 1.2) and all three relay teams with combining members Justin Emery, Tyler Williams, Jason McCoy, Steven Meyers, Justin Butler, Justin Berkley and Blake Trueblood.

Justin Berkley really grew up this year. Every time I tried him in something new he excelled, and really helped us today with his second place high jump. Taggert improved his personal best time by a second and a half and was second by a mere two-hundredths of a second. Much the same for Garrison as he was just an inch and a half short of winning his third event, Hughes said. The remainder of the points were exactly what was needed to carry the boys team over the top.

Luke Taggert was third in the high jump (4-10), Justin Berkley fifth in the long jump (15-6, Justin Butler fifth in the 800m (2:34) and sixth in the 1600m (5:41), Zach Docter fifth in the 400m (1:02.1) and sixth in the 800m (2:38); Blake Trueblood seventh in the 1600m (5:43) and seventh in the 200m hurdles (32.5).

Justin Butler and Blake Trueblood did a great job as they were in the highly competitive 1600m run and scored us five big points, and Butler was in the three longest races of the day. He did very well in all of them. Blake willingly did a brand new event the 200m hurdles and finished seventh place to notch more points in an event where we usually don't excel.

The Lady Wildcats also took home some hardware as five of the six participating girls earned first place, and were league champions in their event.

Leading the way for the Whiteoak girls was Clarissa Johnson, as she anchored the winning 4x400 relay, second in the 100m (13.1) and third in the 400m (1:08).

Joining Johnson in the 4x400 was Kayla Cook, Christine Hamilton and McKenzee Martin.

I knew we didn't have enough depth and numbers to contend for the team title, but I'm so happy these girls performed so well, Hughes said. Back on the first day of outdoor practice I timed all the girls in the 400m run, and as the fourth place girl crossed the line in impressive time I told them we had a league champion 4x400 team. They proved me to be correct.

Kayla Cook led off the relay, and Christine Hamilton ran the next leg giving Whiteoak a slight lead before passing off to McKenzee Martin, who held on to the one second lead. Clarissa Johnson took the baton to give Whiteoak a 10 second win.

Brittani Van Zandt won the shot put competition for her third career Jr High league championship.

Brittani had only been practicing the shot put for a few weeks and this was just her second meet, but she has yet to be defeated, Hughes said.

Also doing well in representing Highland County were Fairfield. Lynchburg was runner up in the girl's team competition. The Fairfield boy's won an impressive six events (long jump, high jump, 1600m and all three relay events).