LOUISVILLE - The goal had been set, and the opportunity was right there – beat Central in the 4x400-meter relay and the Western Hills girls track team would be state champion.
And that’s just what the Lady Wolverines did, winning the relay in a state-record time and capturing the team title in the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships Friday at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
WHHS claimed the team title with 65 points, and Central was runner-up with 61 points. It is the third state title for the Lady Wolverines – they also won in 1996 and 1998.
Western Hills junior Alisha Adair won three events – the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes – and ran the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay despite having pulled a hamstring late in the season.
“I’m very blessed,” she said. “Trainers and other coaches who’ve had athletes with this injury didn’t expect me to be better by last Thursday and run at the region, and they didn’t think I’d be able to compete at state.
“I got a lot of therapy, and my dad (WHHS track coach Christian Adair) gave me some workouts, and it felt a lot better.”
On Friday the Lady Wolverines held a 55-53 lead over Central going into the 4x400 relay, the last event of the day.
The WHHS team of Harper Jones, Anna Curlin, Alaina Hall and Adair won the region last week with a time of 4 minutes, 13.57 seconds, the second best time at the state meet.
Boyle County was seeded first with a time of 4:10.85 from its regional meet, and Central had a time of 4:15.47.
Western Hills blew away the competition with a time of 4:00.62, breaking the Class 2A state record of 4:02.90 set by Danville in 1984.
“I’m speechless,” said Hall, who ran the third leg of the relay.
Hall trailed runners from Boyle and Central for most of her lap but had pulled into the lead by the time she handed the baton to Adair.
“The last few meters there were two girls in front of me,” Hall said. “I saw Alisha waiting for me and I found a gear I didn’t know I had. That was a PR for me in a minute flat.”
While the WHHS coaches were keeping up with the team point totals throughout the meet, the athletes weren’t – not until the 4x400 relay.
“When we got out there one coach told us we had a lead of two points,” Hall said. “Our mentality was to go out there and beat everybody. We had to be first.”
“We knew it was between us and Central in the 4x4,” Adair said. “We pulled everything together. We had a lot of heart, and that’s what it takes to win.”
It was the culmination of a great day for the Lady Wolverines.
“Everybody ran their best times on the girls side,” coach Adair said. “We’ve had injuries, but they taped up and went to war. You can see all the tape, but they were still able to overcome.
“We wanted to win state,” he added. “I don’t coach for the money, and I don’t coach to get faster myself. I coach for the kids and to win. They showed character, and track builds the best character.”
Alisha Adair had won all three sprints at last week’s regional meet, and she came into the state meet as the three-time defending state champion in the 200-meter dash.
“My goal since last year was to win all three events this year, and I did it,” she said. “The 4x4 was icing on the cake. I’m extremely happy.”
Adair won the 100-meter dash in 12.32 seconds, the 200 in 25.33 seconds, and the 400 in 56.53 seconds.
“I felt very comfortable,” she said. “I came in ranked first in the 1 and 2 and in the 400 I was ranked third.
“I went into the 400 with a lot of anxiety. I wanted to win, and I wanted to win all three because I knew we needed the points.
“I came up with a 56,” Adair said, “and I’ve never run a 56 before. My body felt it after the race. I’m very proud of Dad’s workouts and the support of my family and teammates.”
Adair also won the meet’s Sportsmanship Award.
Sophomore Aja Leachman took second in the discus throw with a throw of 103 feet, 6 inches.
“My coaches wanted me to place where I was seeded, which was second, so we could get the points we needed to,” Leachman said, “but I wanted to come in first.”
But there was nothing but joy after the meet ended.
“I’m so happy,” Leachman said. “Everyone did their best to get the win, and everyone wanted it. I’m about to cry.”
Hall placed third in the 300-meter hurdles in a personal-record time of 47.05 seconds.
“That’s way better than last year,” said Hall, who ran the 300 hurdles at state in 2011.
“I’m so proud of all my teammates. We wanted to win badly, and we finally did it.”
Hall also ran in the 100-meter hurdles and was ninth in 17.05 seconds.
Curlin placed in the top four in two events – she was third in the 400-meter dash in 59.24 seconds, and she took fourth in the long jump with a jump of 16 feet, 9 inches.
WHHS’ Cameron Murphy competed in both of the boys hurdle events, taking fourth in the 300 hurdles in 40.43 seconds and seventh in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 15.51 seconds.
The Wolverines’ 4x800-meter relay team of Jordan Lewis, Grant Hughes, Tyler Nix and Austin Huffman was eighth in 8 minutes, 32.78 seconds.
Also competing for the WHHS boys Friday were Talmage Ruth, 12th in the pole vault with a vault of 10 feet; Huffman, 11th in the 800-meter run in 2:03.95; and the 4x400-meter relay team of Austin May, Huffman, Murphy and Hughes, 14th in 3:38.12.
On the girls side, the 4x200-meter relay team of Jenna Harrod, Hall, Lexi Richardson and Amberly Peyton was 12th in 1:52.53, Dove DeNigris was 15th in the 3,200-meter run in 12:32.86, Annie Cunningham was 18th in the pole vault with a vault of 6-00, the 4x100-meter relay team of Harrod, Peyton, Sammie Rowe and Leachman was 22nd in 54.87, and in the shot put Alissa May was 16th at 29-08.50 and Leachman was 22nd at 28-03.50.
“We wanted to do our best,” coach Adair said. “Nothing exceptional, just do our best.”