High School Track & Field

Whale Branch boys, girls finish in top 3 at Lower State track meet

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 5, 2013 

The rain held off at Whale Branch Early College High School on Saturday, allowing the Warriors to serve as first-time hosts for the Class 1-A Lower State track and field meet.

Count Treyvon Bryan as among those thankful.

The sophomore set a goal before the season to qualify for the Class 1-A state meet next week in Columbia. His distance of 131 feet seeded him fourth entering Lower State, and he needed at least a fourth-place finish to advance.

He did better, throwing a school record 139 feet, 7 inches to finish second. The improvement came after work with teammates Howard Allen and Casser Middleton and from perfecting his spin in the weeks leading up to Lower State.

"When I would spin, usually I would hop," Bryan said. "But I took shorter steps. And usually shorter steps mean you throw farther."

Whale Branch coach Brad Taracuk said the throws would determine how well his boys were positioned next week. The Warriors will try to repeat as Class 1-A state champions, and Taracuk wanted multiple throwers qualified to help the team's chances.

Bryan's fellow throwers didn't fare as well, but the Whale Branch boys managed a second-place team finish, including victories in the 4x800-meter relay, 400-meter hurdles --where Dee Delaney was Lower State champion -- and Devonta' Glover's victory in the 3,200-meter run.

"For the most part, we were right where we were scheduled to be at," Taracuk said. "Now going forward, those who do make it are really going to have to bust their (tail) and get working."

The Whale Branch girls, who qualified only three for Lower State a year ago and sent none to Columbia, finished third Saturday.

The highlights included Kemoni Jenkins' win in the 400 hurdles and freshman Jonae Riley qualifying for state in the shot put. Their 4x400 relay, seeded eighth, managed a fourth-place finish to qualify.

The girls qualifiers are the first in the program's three-year history.

Taracuk said Mercedes Smalls and Nichole Smalls helped propel the 4x400 after missing out on a chance to qualify in earlier events.

"Those girls were a little more driven knowing this was their only shot," he said.

Taracuk knew both teams had a chance to place top three. And the weather wasn't going to erase the meet -- S.C. High School League officials said it needed to be completed at all costs -- but threatened to make conditions difficult. After a regular drizze, the day gave way to a mostly dry, overcast afternoon.

The Whale Branch boys' 4x800 relay team was the favorite on the heat sheet, but not by much over Region 5 rival Allendale-Fairfax.

The Warriors watched third leg Tyion Brunson closely, thinking that's where Allendale-Fairfax might make its move. But Brunson delivered, staying ahead and allowing Glover to close out the win on the final leg.

"He pulled off something today," senior Charles Jiles said of Brunson. "... We just told him to go out and do his thing."

Jiles, who ran the opening leg, knew he wasn't as fast as Tigers' runner You'shi Kirkland. He paced himself off Kirkland and didn't try to pass him until the final stretch before his handoff.

"He's got a faster kick than me," Jiles said. "I can't catch him."

Bryan couldn't quite catch Johnsonville's Jeffrey Timmons, who threw 142 feet to win Lower State in discus. But Timmons is a senior, Bryan only a sophomore.

And he got what he wanted this year.

"Going to state was my plan," Bryan said.

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