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Central Kentucky stars: Boyle County sweeps CKC; seventh-graders shine for Titans

NICHOLASVILLE – Jai Maria Piazza must have had energy to burn.

Piazza started bouncing up and down as soon as she came to a stop Friday night in the girls 400-meter dash at the Central Kentucky Conference Championships, looking around for her coach to find out her time.

The Mercer County seventh-grader soon learned that she had beaten her previous best time in the 400-meter dash by nearly two seconds, giving one of the area’s best young runners a victory in one of the state’s oldest track and field meets.

More than that, Piazza’s performance and that of other young Mercer girls in the CKC meet at West Jessamine Middle School helped to serve notice that their team is ready to make a make a major move – not just in the future, but now.

“I feel like we can win state this year,” Piazza said.

Yes, while the day belonged to Boyle County, which swept the boys and girls CKC team titles, the Mercer girls are looking ahead to another day – May 18, the day they could give their school its first girls team championship.

Nobody’s going to hand it to them – certainly not two-time defending Class 2A girls champion and regional rival Boyle – but it just might be close enough for them to reach out and take it.

“Legitimately, there’s about four schools that are probably within about four or five points right now, and we’re right there in the mix,” Mercer coach Terry Yeast said. “We’ll wait and see what happens, but I’m excited that they’re in the mix.”

Mercer is chasing the championship with a very young roster that includes two seniors, two juniors and a bunch of sophomores, freshmen and seventh-graders.

They finished just one point behind Boyle on Friday, tying Rockcastle County for second place in a hotly contested girls competition that wasn’t decided until Boyle got four points in the high jump, the final event to be completed.

The first of Mercer’s three event wins came from Piazza, who broke 60 seconds for the first time with a time of 59.21.

“I’ve never really gotten (a race) in the 50s, and I wanted to get one today,” Piazza said. “I guess it was because I wasn’t so nervous about it, and I just went with it.”

Mercer scored 15 points in the 400 thanks to Piazza and seventh-grade classmate Timberlynn Yeast, the coach’s daughter, who won the second heat with a personal-best time of 1:01.76 that was good for fourth place overall.

Yeast shaved about a second off her previous best and said she was matched her teammate’s level of excitement, even if she didn’t match her elevation.

“Very excited,” Yeast said.

Piazza and Yeast have been running against older girls since they started competing in middle school meets as fifth-graders. Now in their first year of high school competition, they are skipping most middle school meets – they plan to run in the middle school state championships – and facing off against girls up to six years older than them.

“It’s very fun to be able to compete against people that are older than us and show them that we’re better than them,” Yeast said.

Yeast and Piazza teamed with sophomores Haley Blevins and Abby Steele to set a CKC record in the 1,600 relay, breaking the old record by almost two seconds and winning by more than three seconds with a time of 4:03.88 that ranks that foursome at No. 1 in the state among Class 2A girls.

“I told them the goal today was 4:05. All along we’ve been trying to get down to 4:02, and I just wanted them to get to 4:05 and gradually work down, but 4:03 was not what I expected today,” Terry Yeast said.

Mercer also got a second-place finish in the girls 3,200 from seventh-grader Clayra Darnell (12:43.49).

Darnell is ranked 13th among Class 2A girls in that event, while Piazza and Timberlynn Yeast are ranked fifth and 12th in the 400.

And the fun may only be beginning for the Mercer girls, who appear to be laying a foundation for several years of state contention and who have seen their male counterparts on Mercer’s boys team win consecutive Class 2A boys titles.

“It is going to be fun,” Terry Yeast said. “They are very hungry, they’ve seen (the boys’) excitement and they want exactly what our boys have been getting.”

The coach said he isn’t sure how some of his girls will react in the state meet spotlight, but he’s hopeful that the pressure won’t faze the younger athletes.

“Our seasoned girls that we expect to do well, some of them are kind of struggling right now. So if we can get them (where they should be), I think the young kids won’t know any different. They’re just competing,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what happens, but I’m excited that they’re in the mix.”

Two other CKC records fell Friday, including the meet’s oldest running record. Lucy Singleton of Lincoln County broke the girls 800 record of 2:22.80 that has stood since 1970 by 1.5 seconds, but she lost the race by almost four seconds to Rockcastle County’s Victoria Dotson.

Peter Shipley of Boyle County broke a record set in 1990 in the 300 hurdles by .96 seconds with his time of 39.44.

Marquise Kinley won two events for the Boyle boys, taking the long jump in 21-2 and the triple jump in 42-11.

Boyle’s boys won eight of 18 events, including the 3,200 and 1,600 relays. Other Boyle winners were Ezekiel Harless (3,200) Mitchell Paycheck (discus) and Gary Wood (pole vault).

Ty Divine (800) of Mercer and Don Harris (shot put) of Danville also won individual boys events.

Boyle took only two events on the girls side, getting wins from Kaylee Lanigan (100 hurdles) and Ashton Cox (long jump).

Mercer won the 3,200 and 1,600 relays and got an individual win from Zoe Yeast (shot put).

CENTRAL KENTUCKY CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday

At West Jessamine Middle School

(Area scorers)

BOYS

Team scores (14 scoring teams) – 1. Boyle County 145; 2. East Jessamine 117; 3. Henry Clay 80 1/2; 5. Danville 50; 8. Mercer County 43; 10. Burgin 28 1/2; 14. Lincoln County 6.

3200 relay – 1. Boyle County (Malik Allahham, Nate Smith, Trey Gilliland, Jackson Cox) 8:22.48; 3. Burgin (Trevar Lay, Drew Hatfield, Daylan Hodges, Hunter Preston) 8:58.92.

110 hurdles – 3. Peter Shipley (Boyle County) 15.85; 5. Caleb Jackson (Boyle County) 16.85.

100 – 2. Chris Duffy (Boyle County) 11.13; 5. Mishi Easterling (Mercer County) 11.52; 6. Marquise Kinley (Boyle County) 11.58; 7. Darius Napier (Lincoln County) 11.66; 8. Gabe McKnight (Danville) 11.73.

800 relay – 2. Danville (McKnight, Zach Thornton, Tanner Ford, Don Harris) 1:32.42; 7. Lincoln County (Gavin Skipper, Napier, Brady Patterson, Dalyn Pope) 1:38.30.

1600 – 2. Lay (Burgin) 4:50.62; 8. Smith (Boyle County) 5:03.16.

400 relay – 4. Danville (Harris, Ford, Brennan McGuire, Thornton) 44.72.

400 – 3. Duffy (Boyle County) 50.84; 5. Thornton (Danville) 54.09.

300 hurdles – 1. Shipley (Boyle County) 39.44 (meet record, old record 40.40, George Higgins, Woodford County, 1990); 3. McKnight (Danville) 42.03; 7. Jackson (Boyle County) 43.43.

800 – 1. Ty Divine (Mercer County) 1:59.28; 2. Cox (Boyle County) 2:00.91; 5. Brandon Ballard (Mercer County) 2:07.74; 6. Hunter Preston (Burgin) 2:09.56; 8. Gilliland (Boyle County) 2:11.57.

200 – 5. Grayson Rahbany (Boyle County) 23.64; 7. Napier (Lincoln County) 23.97; 8. McGuire (Danville) 24.08.

3200 – 1. Ezekiel Harless (Boyle County) 10:12.70; 3. Lay (Burgin) 10:39.02; 4. Seth Stomberger (Boyle County) 10:39.98.

1600 relay – 1. Boyle County (Shipley, G. Rahbany, Cox, Duffy) 3:26.42; 4. Mercer County (Divine, Ballard, Mishi Easterling, Toshi Smith) 3:37.64; 8. Burgin (Lay, Hatfield, Hodges, Preston) 3:48.33.

Shot put – 1. Harris (Danville) 44-9; 6. Zachary Glasscock (Boyle County) 39-4; 7. Mitchell Paycheck (Boyle County) 39-1.

Discus – 1. Paycheck (Boyle County) 132-11; 4. Harris (Danville) 117-10; 6. Sam Warren (Mercer County) 116-10; 8. Ezarious Roller (Boyle County) 114-6.

Long jump – 1. Kinley (Boyle County) 21-2; 2. Easterling (Mercer County) 20-6; 5. Damon Jackson (Danville) 19- 1/2; 6. Alex Rahbany (Boyle County) 18-3 3/4.

Triple jump – 1. Kinley (Boyle County) 42-11; 2. Easterling (Boyle County) 41-1 1/2; 3. Will Imfeld (Boyle County) 40-8; 8. Matthew Mays (Mercer County) 37- 1/2.

High jump – 7. Fisher Evans (Boyle County) 5-2.

Pole vault – 1. Gary Wood (Boyle County) 12-0; 3. Jaxxyn Wood (Danville) 11-0; 4. Hodges (Burgin) 10-6.

GIRLS

Team scores (13 scoring teams) – 1. Boyle County 111; 2. Mercer County 110; 2. Rockcastle County 110; 9. Lincoln County 30; 11. Casey County 16; 12. Danville 12.

3200 relay – 1. Mercer County (Haley Blevins, Jai Maria Piazza, Timberlynn Yeast, Channing Lewis) 10:02.27; 2. Boyle County (Ally Anderson, Amelia Fogle, Emma Jackson, Addison Hensley) 10:06.24. 3. Lincoln County (Lucy Singleton, Shayley Reed, Ava Morgan, McKenzie Settles) 10:39.37; 5. Danville (Kiah Earle, Claire Strysick, Mackenzie Matthews, Lisa Voyles) 10:58.02.

100 hurdles – 1. Kaylee Lanigan (Boyle County) 16.44; 5. Harlee Settles (Mercer County) 17.62.

100 – 5. Daneezia Patton (Boyle County) 13.40; 6. Chelsea Elmore (Boyle County) 13.41.

800 relay – 2. Boyle County (Patton, Elmore, Lanigan, Chelsea Moore) 1:48.00; 3. Mercer County (Calicia Smith, Abby Steele, Jacey Catlett, Piazza) 1:50.25; 7. Danville (Anaiah Jennkins, Abbie Hibbs, Jade Smith, Taylor Rankin) 1:54.57.

1600 – 2. Anderson (Boyle County) 5:28.64; 3. Blevins (Mercer County) 5:38.59.

400 relay – 6. Mercer County (Steele, Smith, Catless, Jasmine Claunch) 53.06.

400 – 1. Piazza (Mercer County) 59.21; 2. Moore (Boyle County) 1:00.77; 4. T. Yeast (Mercer County) 1:01.76; 5. McKenzie Settles (Lincoln County) 1:01.82.

300 hurdles – 2. Lanigan (Boyle County) 49.01; 5. Settles (Mercer County) 51.00; 7. Aubrey Jones (Mercer County) 51.71.

800 – 2. Singleton (Lincoln County) 2:21.30 (surpassed meet record, old record 2:22.80, Elizabeth Johnson, Frankfort, 1970)); 3. Blevins (Mercer County) 2:30.54. 5. Settles (Lincoln County) 2:32.44; 6. Fogle (Boyle County) 2:33.42.

200 – 3. Elmore (Boyle County) 26.79; 7. Steele (Mercer County) 27.57.

3200 – 2. Clayra Darnell (Mercer County) 12:43.49; 4. Naia Hutchins (Boyle County) 12:52.71; 6. Earle (Danville) 13:00.64.

1600 relay – 1. Mercer County (Piazza, Steele, T. Yeast, Blevins) 4:03.88 (meet record, old record 4:05.74, Henry Clay, 2012); 2. Boyle County (Anderson, Moore, Lanigan, Elmore) 4:07.19; 6. Lincoln County (Settles, Singleton, Reed, Meredith Dennis) 4:22.88.

Shot put – 1. Zoe Yeast (Mercer County) 35-4; 2. Brenna Hayes (Casey County) 34-1; 8. Zharia Yeast (Mercer County) 29-3.

Discus – 2. Hayes (Casey County) 103-11; 3. Zo. Yeast (Mercer County) 102-11; 6. Savannah Prigmore (Mercer County) 89-8; 7. Ashley Smith (Boyle County) 88-4.

Long jump – 1. Ashton Cox (Boyle County) 16-5 1/2; 3. Claunch (Mercer County) 16-3; 7. Payton Bugg (Boyle County) 15-8.

Triple jump – 2. Claunch (Mercer County) 34-10; 4. Becca Tarter (Boyle County) 33-11 3/4; 5. Haley Sheperson (Boyle County) 31-10 1/2.

High jump – 4. Alexa Wesley (Lincoln County) 4-8; 5. Tarter (Boyle County) 4-8; 7. Emma Merryman (Danville) 4-6.

Pole vault – 4. Smith (Boyle County) 8-0.