CHARLESTON -After the first day of the 100th West Virginia State High School Track Meet, the favored Parkersburg High School boys team was down. Down in the point standings and down in the dumps over hurdler Landon Miller becoming one of many false start victims that took him out of the 110 high hurdles.
The Big Reds left Charleston following Friday’s action with just 14 points, trailing both four-time defending champion Jefferson and crosstown rival Parkersburg South by a significant 18-point margin.
In a late night meeting in the PHS dressing room, coach Rod O’Donnell made it quite clear that PHS had experienced a bad day. But he reminded his Big Reds that they don’t hand out the trophy in the 1600 to the one who is leading at the 800 mark.
Saturday, O’Donnell said, represented a new day and a new opportunity for the Big Reds to show they were the best team in Class AAA.
That’s exactly what PHS did. As a result, the Big Reds won their first state boys track title in 49 years and earned the school’s first state title in any sport over the past three years.
The Big Reds didn’t just win. They dominated. PHS finished with 93 points to 80 for runner-up Jefferson and 42 for third-place Parkersburg South.
This was a team effort, bu there’s no doubt who was the star of Parkersburg’s show.
Senior sprinter Chandler Hamilton won both the 100 and 200 titles. He also teamed with Miller, Dan Fox and Logan Woodell to win the 4 by 200 and with Woodell, Evan Rhodes and Nic Cheuvront to capture the 4 by 400 title.
Although Jefferson’s Andrew Milliron won high-point honors with 28 points, Hamilton earned 25 and Rhodes 24.5 for the Big Reds.
Rhodes dominated the hurdles races, winning both the 110 highs and the 300 intermediate races. When Rhodes and Miller finished 1-2 in the intermediates, PHS earned 18 points in that event and was well on its way to winning a historic title.
All day long, the Big Reds got what they needed -and often more -out of each event. When Hamilton won the 200, the state title was clinched. What had seemed improbable just 20 hours earlier now was reality. The celebration was under way.
“It is an awesome feeling,” said Hamilton. “It has been a long time coming.”
Hamilton credited his teammates and his coaches.
“I was happy with all our guys performance,” he said. “I was proud of everything we did.”
Hamilton credited O’Donnell for believing in him and his teammates and molding them into a championship team.
“He is my mentor,” Hamilton said. “If I ever got in trouble, he would be the first person I would call.”
Hamilton now has passed the torch to the Big Reds who will return next year, including Woodell, a freshman who placed sixth in the 100 and fifth in the 200.
South was unable to match its opening day performance but it did get a second place effort from Dylon Rippeto in the shot put. Rippeto had claimed the discus state title on Friday night.
Neither city girls team fared well in the standings. The Big Red girls placed 13th with 20 points while South was 19th with 10 points,. Kasey Williams had a hand in all 10 of South’s points, while Sarah Bever placed second in the 300 hurdles, fourth in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the high jump for PHS.