Titans place two teams in top three at Heart of the Bluegrass

HARRODSBURG — The Titans proved they are among the elite.

Mercer County placed its boys and girls teams among the top three at Heart of the Bluegrass on Saturday and had results come in from nearly every event, despite missing double-digit athletes.

Senior Aaron Johnson set a meet record by nearly three-tenths of a second in the boys 110 meter hurdles, winning with a 14.16 second time. He also won the 300 meter hurdles (38.99 seconds), placed second in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and fourth in the long jump (21 feet, 10 inches) on his way to earning Most Outstanding Performer and Highest Points Scorer at the meet.

“Aaron had a great hurdle day, that’s his best, I think he set two new school records in the hurdles today,” head coach Terry Yeast said. “He and Mishi (Easterling) both jumped well today. Where we are now compared to last year, I’m excited how they’re progressing.”

Brandon Ballard and Ty Divine anchored the boys’ mid-distances to earn top three placings in the 4×400 relay, 4×800 relay and 800 meter dash.

“Ty Divine, after playing basketball, he’s in the same shape but he’s running better times,” coach Yeast said. “I’m really, really excited about seeing that. But like I tell them every day, some of the young guys are going to have to step up. I think they’re going to be OK. We’re not deep enough to win a lot of events, but when you get to the state meet, anything can happen. Every point counts. That’s what we’re working on now, just trying to get strong enough to compete at the state meet.

“Coming in, the boys are just so young this year, and I’m extremely pleased with a third place today. I think they finished strong. We were short two legs on the 4×400 relay today and they still finished second. That’s positive.”

On the girls side, coach Yeast said he was missing seven athletes, but the Titans still scored 103 points for second place.

“As far as the girls go, I came in knowing it would be a tough day to win,” coach Yeast said. “We had seven girls out. We have so many kids involved in so many different things. It’s funny having two seventh graders missing and that really kills your team, but it happened today. The girls finished second, down seven girls. I was super, super excited about that today. The girls are really,really progressing. Jasmine (Claunch) had a big day, she PR’d in both jumps and finished second. I thought that was amazing.”

Claunch placed second in the long jump (16 feet, 4 inches) and triple jump (35 feet, 7.25 inches), while also helping the Mercer 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams to fourth-place finishes.

Claunch and teammate Zoe Yeast star in the field for Mercer: Yeast scored 18 points in the throws, placing first in discus (109 feet, 1 inch) and second in the shot put (36 feet, 9 inches).

“That’s definitely our strength, Zoe won the disc and finished second in shot. Zoe hasn’t even gotten anywhere near where she can get. I just hope that happens at the right time,” coach Yeast said.

One runner that has continued to peak is freshman Harlee Settles. She placed fourth in the 100 meter hurdles (17.56 seconds), third in the 300 hurdles (50.71 seconds), fifth in high jump (4 feet, 4 inches) and was on the 4×400 relay team that placed fourth.

“Harlee Settles has been a huge plus as a freshman, she’s been one of our most improved kids  in hurdles and high jump,” coach Yeast said. I’m really excited about our young kids and where that girls program is going to be.

“I think the girls are moving in the right direction,” coach Yeast added. “Even though they’re young, they’re a mature group. I think anything can happen with them. I’m very pleased to go home with hardware, it has been a long time since both teams have gone home with hardware at a meet of this caliber.”