CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The last time Point Pleasant competed at the Class AA level in track and field, it came away with three state titles.
The Red and Black have had only three in the following four years at the Class AAA meet.
Needless to say, the Black Knights and Lady Knights are glad to have the program back where it last was in 2012.
PPHS will have 22 total athletes competing in 21 Class AA events this Friday and Saturday at the 2017 WVSSAC championships being held at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston in Kanawha County.
Both teams have improved their respective state qualifying numbers from a year ago, when the Red and Black collectively sent 15 athletes in 14 events en route to one state championship — Cody Mitchell in the discus — and several podium (top-six) performances.
PPHS will also enter its final weekend of the 2017 campaign with a lot of first-time participants as only five of the 22 state qualifiers competed at Laidley Field last spring.
The Lady Knights have higher expectations this weekend after landing 13 different competitors in a dozen events, which includes four of the five state relays — excluding the 4×100 shuttle hurdles. Five of those 13 athletes are also making a return trip to the Mountain State capital.
Senior Aislyn Hayman — owner of four podium finishes in six previous state appearances — will be aiming for her elusive first state championship as she again competes in both the shot put (40-2) and discus (132-4) finals. The Marshall University signee owns the best qualifying mark headed into each event Friday.
Sami Saunders has two chances to earn individual podium honors as the freshman enters the weekend tied for second in the high jump (5-4) qualifying and is also fourth-best in the pole vault (9-0).
Senior Morgan Roush — a four-year qualifier at the state level as well — will be making her third straight appearance in the discus and owns the fourth-best mark of 101 feet, 7 inches.
Sophomores Madison Hatfield, Teagan Hay and Sydnee Moore, as well as freshman Ashley Staats, have fighting chances at a podium effort in two relays. The quartet has the eighth-best time in the 4x100m (53.90) event and the 11th-fastest time in the 4x200m (1:54.67) race.
Hatfield has the 10th-best time in the 400m (1:02.36) dash, while freshman Grace Allensworth also has the 10th-best mark in the shot put at 32 feet, 1 inch. Sophomore Ariat Rollins also enters the pole vault final with the 10th-best qualifying mark of 7 feet, 6 inches.
Sophomores Lexi Watkins-Lovejoy, Allison Henderson and Cierra Beatty, as well as freshman Morgan Miller, own the 11th-fastest time in the 4x800m relay (10:58.16) event. Moore, Hatfield, Henderson and Miller are also 12th overall in the 4x400m qualifying with a time of 4:28.51.
On the boys side of things, the Black Knights have nine fresh faces competing in nine competitions — including a trio of relay events.
Point’s better opportunities, at least based on qualifying efforts, will come in individual contests … particularly in field events.
Sophomore Eddi Mayes had the sixth-best throw in the shot put (44-0.5) and junior Jesse Gleason owns the sixth-best heave in the discus (136-5) to go along with a 12th-longest effort in the shot put (42-1).
Freshman Steven Trent is also tied with two others for sixth in the pole vault competition after posting identical marks of 10 feet, 6 inches.
Sophomore Luke Wilson owns the ninth-fastest time in the 3200m run (10:22.71) and is also 10th overall in the 1600m run with a mark of 4:48.93.
Juniors Justin Brumfield, Justin Staats and Keshawn Stover, as well as sophomore Cason Payne, own the eighth-fastest time in the 4x100m relay (46.54).
Freshmen Brady Adkins, Jared Icenhower and Peyton Hughes, as well as junior Wyatt Dean, are 15th overall in the 4x800m (9:43.13) qualifying, while Payne, Trent, Icenhower and Stover have the slowest time in the 4x400m relay (3:50.75) event.
The 2017 WVSSAC track and field championships start at 2 p.m. Friday and will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.