The Clarke County boys’ and girls’ track & field teams each placed third at Wednesday’s 11-school Region 2B meet at East Rockingham High School in Elkton.
Led by Region 2B Male Athlete of the Year Ellis Nei, the Eagles boys scored 78 points to finish behind Stuarts Draft (119.5) and Staunton (113). The Clarke County girls (69 points) finished behind Staunton (87)) and Strasburg (71).
Both teams won Bull Run District titles last week. That meet was not a postseason competition, as all athletes who competed in that meet were eligible for the Region 2B meet. For the Region 2B meet, teams were allowed three entries in each individual event and one entry for each relay event.
“All things considered, both teams performed very well,” Clarke County coach Andre Kidrick said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I was actually surprised we did as well as we did. When our kids participated, they did their best.
“That’s the thing I always like about Clarke County and Clarke County kids. They’re going to give you everything they got.”
Clarke County was short-handed due to a parent-organized senior prom that was held for the school’s students on Wednesday. A few girls who had a good chance at adding to Clarke County’s point total either did not participate or left the meet early. The Eagles were also without injured distance runner Ellen Smith. Kidrick said the boys’ team probably would have still finished third at full strength.
“I’m not mad, because the kids last year missed out [on prom],” Kidrick said. “Parents, kids, all of us are looking for some sort of normalcy, and the prom is a normal thing. I would have loved to have a full complement of people to see what would happen, but it is what it is.”
The top four people in each regional event qualified for the Class 2 state meet on June 19 at James Madison University.
Nei, a senior, will be competing in three events after the latest in a season of spectacular performances, which includes school records in the high jump (6-5.25) and 110-meter hurdles (15.22).
Nei won the high jump by two inches with a mark of 6-2; won the 110-meter hurdles by 1.03 seconds in 15.54; teamed with senior Kameron Lane and juniors Liam Whalen and Dain Booker to place third in the 4x100 (47.38); and barely missed on a state berth in the 100, placing fifth in 11.67.
“I’m very excited for Ellis,” Kidrick said. “He’s a good kid. He’s a pretty good overall track athlete who can do multiple events, and that showed in districts last week, and in regionals.”
Other state qualifiers for the Clarke County boys are sophomore Spencer Blick (second in the 300 hurdles, 45.69); the 4x800 team of senior Daniel Lai, senior Evan Hanley, sophomore James Dalton and senior Joshua Hinton (second in 9:46.76); and senior Trey Trenary (fourth in the shot put, 42-9).
“I like this boys’ team because a lot of them are friends,” Kidrick said. “They came together and they work hard together. They go all out.”
The Clarke County girls had three people win a total of four events. Freshman Bailey Beard won the 100 (13.14, 0.09 ahead of the runner-up) and 200 (27.05 to win by 1.02); freshman Teagan Lowery captured the triple jump (34-2 to win by four inches); and senior Sara Murray won the discus (115-6 to win by almost 17 feet).
Beard and Lowery also ran on the 4x100 team that took third in 54.79. Joining them were senior Angel Crider (second in the 100 hurdles, 18.58) and sophomore Leah Kreeb.
“[Beard’s] work ethic and competitive spirit have not surprised me at all,” said Kidrick, who has known Beard since middle school as a result of being the athletic director at Johnson-Williams. “I didn’t realize she was as fast as she is. If she works on her technique, she’s going to get even faster.
“Her and Teagan are almost like two peas in a pod in terms of work ethic. And they enjoy the spirit of competition.”
Murray also qualified for the state meet in the shot put (second with a 32-0).
“She just started doing it about three weeks, a month ago. I was making fun of her a little bit. She’s very athletic, but when throws she just does not look athletic,” said Kidrick with a laugh. “But she had a great performance.”
Kidrick said the girls have also been a pleasure to work with.
“They always go out and take care of business,” he said.