With a total of 91 Bluegrass State Games medals between them, it’s safe to say athleticism runs in Beverly and Ryleigh Metcalf’s family.
For Beverly, who has earned 87 of those medals in track and field events throughout her 26-year career, this year’s event was extra special because she got to share the experience with Ryleigh, her 4-year-old great-niece.
“I was more excited to see Ryleigh following in my footsteps,” the 67-year-old state government retiree explained.
An annual athletics event, the Bluegrass State Games offers competition in more than 40 sports for all ages.
Ryleigh, the daughter of Whitney and Gary Metcalf, is a first-year member of F.A.S.T. Youth Track team and is coached by Sabrina Gordon and Jackie Gordon-Duvall, a former Frankfort High School track star and current athletic director at the school.
“(My favorite event) was running because I got a medal,” Ryleigh said, adding she is excited to participate again next year and would like to try new events “if my coaches let me.”
She captured gold medals in the broad jump (0.73 meters) and softball throw (5.18 meters). She took second place in both the 100-meter dash (29.67 seconds) and the 200-meter dash.
The best part of the Bluegrass State Games “was watching Aunt Bev run really fast,” said Ryleigh, who also enjoys singing and dancing.
Beverly raced her way to gold medals in the 100-meter dash (18.7) and as part of the Speedy Sisters 4x100-meter relay team (1:23.37). She also placed second in the long jump (1.81 meters).
“My goal is to continue running and jumping until my health sits me down or the Lord lays me down,” she told The State Journal.
Beverly, who was a member of the 1969-70 Franklin County High School track team, got involved in the Bluegrass State Games after being persuaded in 1990 by her former high school coach Jean Wright, then sports commissioner for the games.
She attributes her longevity in the sport to daily walking and the minimum training and stretching she does to keep her body and muscles working and her blood pressure down.
“I only run in my backyard on the grassy surface because I refuse to ‘pound the pavement,’” she explained. “I think that’s why my knees are still in pretty good shape for my age.”
During her Bluegrass Games career Beverly has earned numerous honors. In 1994 she set the female 40-45 age group record in the 100-meter dash, and in 2006 the 4x100-meter relay team she was a part of notched the best time in the 40-99 age group. Both records still stand.
Beverly was named Female Athlete of the Year in 1999 and the following year helped light the cauldron at the opening ceremony with the torch that had been carried from Frankfort to Lexington. In 2009 she became the first recipient of the Jean Wright Athlete of the Games award.
“The games have allowed me to ‘never give up’ on my amateur potential as a senior sprinter and long jumper and it keeps me motivated,” she added.
Beverly had a banner year in 2017 when she set age group records in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. She also bested the 400-meter dash record, a 16-year record previously held by another Frankfort resident, Rosegayle Waterfield Hardy.
In fact, in more than a quarter of a century, Beverly has only missed two Bluegrass State Games — once due to surgery and another because she was on vacation. For the past 13 years she has also volunteered at the event.
“I would always tell people I couldn’t tell if I ‘worked’ between running and jumping or ‘I ran and jumped’ between working,” Beverly said. “This is the wonderful spirit of being involved in the games.”