Admirals’ track and field trending up

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

HARRODSBURG — Saturday was a busy day for the Danville Admirals.

Most had prom. Some tackled the Heart of the Bluegrass track and field meet at Mercer County before.

Danville had 35 finishers at Heart of the Bluegrass, and from what head coach Chris Verhoven saw, he liked.

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“Considering the short amount of time that some athletes were there, considering the low number of athletes, I was pleased,” Verhoven said. “We still ended up seventh at the meet and we were there for half of a day, at best. The goal is always for the times to go down, distances to go up and we’re continuing to go in the right direction at the right time of the year.

“One could argue that it’s the first meet that we really saw the sun shine. We do have, like all other schools, athletes who at least psychologically and maybe physically do better when the temperatures are warmer. That and I think the competition level helped.”

Sophomore Gabe McKnight set a personal-best in the 110 hurdles, placing second with a 15.55 time. He was also on the boys 4×200 relay team that placed second to Boyle County by just two one-hundredths of a second.

“Gabe was a standout, to take two tenths of a second off of his PR,” Verhoven said. “Then the 4×2, they took another six or seven tenths off of their state-leading time, which is nice. It’s approaching the school record, which is pretty amazing for April.”

Senior Don Harris continued to score points unlike any other athlete: He placed seventh in the 100 meter dash (11.54 seconds), anchored the 4×200 relay and was third in the discus (127 feet, 11 inches). He almost certainly would’ve placed in the top four in the shot put with teammate Jaleel Warren (third, 44 feet, 7 inches), but was scratched.

“Don wasn’t able to throw shot because he was running the 100, placing in that, running the 4×2,” Verhoven said. “By the time he went to check in, they had already ran through the third flight. He could’ve gotten second or third in that. He ended up placing in the discus before he left, and he maintains his hold on state rankings in all of his events.”

Harris represents a conundrum for Verhoven and his coaching staff: What’s the best quartet of events for him?

“We constantly try to figure out what’s best for Don and the team,” the coach said. “He could probably place at state in six different events. Then you say, ‘what do you pull him out of?’ I believe he’s second or third in the shot in Class A, second in discus. He’s cracked top eight in the 100, he’s on the 4×1 and 4×2 which are both state leaders. He’s not somebody you say, ‘yeah, we can probably put somebody else in there.’ On a good day, you could probably put him in the 200.”

A positive for Danville and the Harris conundrum: Junior Brennen McGuire was one hundredth of a second slower than Harris in the 100 meter dash, setting a new personal-best with 11.55 seconds to place ninth.

“The best news probably in regards to Don was that Brennen McGuire had a PR in the 100,” Verhoven said. “That’s about where Don was yesterday, and even if Don is a better 100 runner, we don’t lose much with Brennen there. And maybe that motivates Brennen more to step up. I think he also senses that Tanner Ford and those guys are pushing him on those relays if he wants to keep his spot on that A team in the 4×1 and 4×2. He’ll have to do that in the 100, and that was good to see.”

McGuire and Warren represent the way Danville’s track team is heading: Up.

“We’re just going in the right direction,” Verhoven said. “Jaleel jumped just shy of 20 feet in the long jump, which is a PR. He’s top eight in shot, which is what he should be. He didn’t have his best day on triple jump, but he PR’d earlier in the week. You always look for trends and we’re trending the right way, which is what all the good teams should do.”

Speaking of good teams, Verhoven said his team is getting a good look at what state competition will be like with Boyle County and Mercer County, even though those two are in Class 2A.

“Boyle County and Mercer have state-championship caliber teams,” he said. “We’re running against them every week. It brings out our best and it’s preparing us for the postseason. Comparing it to football, Danville beat 6A Tates Creek and it was a hard fought game, but when it came to playoffs, we were tough and didn’t overlook anybody. I’m hoping state shouldn’t be any more difficult than the competition we’ve ran against all year.

“We’re prepping ourselves for Fort Knox, St. Henry, Holy Cross. I think running against Boyle County and Mercer County each week is mimicking what those teams have. I think it’s bringing out the best of us.”

The Admirals will get a different look this week: They host an all-comers meet Tuesday and will be at Lindsey Wilson College on Friday.

“I’m excited about this week, we get a home meet on Tuesday and Friday night, we’re going to that meet at Lindsey Wilson,” Verhoven said. “College track, different competition, Friday night instead of Saturday, maybe all of those factors are positives. We can see something special.”