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Grafton girls lead Class AA-A field; Doddridge not far behind

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

CHARLESTON -- The intense expressions on their faces said it all.

Doddridge County and Grafton entered Friday's state track and field meet at Charleston's Laidley Field ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the latest girls track polls. Both Doddridge County coach Craig Kellar and Grafton coach Paul Martin knew their teams would be facing a monumental challenge. The first day of competition didn't disappoint.

After one full day, it was Grafton which held a slim 31-23 lead over the favored Bulldogs. However, neither coach was surprised at the early results.

"It's just about how we figured it would be," Martin said. "There were a few things that I didn't expect, but for the most part it's how I figured it would be at this point.

"There's still a full day left and there's a lot left to do. It's going to be any interesting Saturday."

One of the biggest surprises and possible blows to the Bulldog hopes for a state title came early in the meet. Grafton's 4x800 relay team captured first with a time of 9:50. The biggest surprise came when Doddridge County was shut out of the final points slot by Bridgeport, which took sixth place. The Indians' team of Kodie Miller, Theresa Melko, Eliza Haws and Ashley Wilson set a school record at 10:19.85 -- nine seconds off the previous mark and 20 seconds better than their regional qualifying time.

However, Doddridge County came up big with 16 points in the pole vault.

Junior Lisa Davis repeated as state champion and set a new record, clearing 10 feet. Teammates Karen Kellar and Nicole White finished third and sixth, respectively.

"It's really great to set the record, but what's more important is that we got the points," Davis said. "We were a little surprised by not scoring in the 4x800, so that put a little more pressure on us.

"Now, we're right back where we need to be. We're still in good shape for (Saturday)."

As anticipated, Grafton got big performances from distance runners Sherri Flohr and Heather McDaniel. The two finished second and third, respectively, behind Fayetteville's Jessica Taylor in the 3,200 meter run. Ginny Keener finished second in the high jump, as well, for the Bearcats.

However, Doddridge County got a big boost from Judi Rose, who finished fifth in the discus.

"Not scoring in the 4x800 was a downer," Kellar said. "I thought if we could've run the same time we did in the regionals we could've had a good showing.

"But we got it back in the pole vault. I think coach Martin and I are a little surprised at how some of these girls finished, but for the most part, it's pretty much how we expected it to be. We've still got our work cut out for us."

Doddridge County will counter today with its strong relay teams, while Grafton figures to be strong in the 800 and 1,600 with Flohr and McDaniel.

"I think what it boils down to is that we need to get some help from some other teams in the relay events and (Doddridge County) has to falter somewhat," Martin said. "That's pretty much it. If that doesn't happen, then even our best effort might not be enough. If the girls run as hard as they can, though, that's all I can ask."

In the discus, Lincoln's Carl Gable won with a throw of 156-2. In girls Class AA-A, Melko finished second in the discus with a throw of 118-7, while Liberty's Allison Ritz was fourth.

Bridgeport's Brandy Sypolt tied for fifth in the high jump. Robert C. Byrd's R.J. Coleman finished fourth in the shot put, while teammate Tony Shade qualified for the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.04. Philip Barbour's Scott Mayle was third in the long jump.

In the girls 4x800, Buckhannon-Upshur finished third (9:59.54), while Gilmer County's boys team won the 4x800 with a time of 8:13.41. Doddridge County was second at 8:16.23.

Liberty's Maura Nelan qualified for the Class AA-A girls 100-meter final.

Gilmer's Dusty Dent won the Class AA-A boys 3,200 with a time of 9:50.47, while Doddridge's Denny Hayes and Josh Sheets finished third and fourth, respectively.

In the Class AAA girls 3,200, Robert C. Byrd's Stephanie Hatfield finished sixth.

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444.

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