Alvin Harvey knew of one event that would take a hit his first season as head boys track coach at Beaufort High School.
He lost three all-state hurdlers from 2012, three athletes who had run together four years. But Harvey has been pleased fielding their replacements.
Among the newcomers is sophomore Nathan Parker, who won the 400-meter hurdles Saturday to help the Eagles boys win the Beaufort Track Classic. The Eagles girls won to complete the host school's sweep.
The boys finished with 141 points to top Hilton Head Island High School, which finished with 98. And the girls managed 204 points, well ahead of second-place Bluffton, which finished with 82.
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"This is a rebuilding year for the hurdles," said Harvey, who took over from longtime Eagles coach Carolyn Bostick. "And they are exceeding expectations."
In addition to Parker, Harvey has leaned on first-year hurdler Tony Winston and another sophomore, Malcolm Collins. Michael Dickson is the lone returner from the Eagles' hurdlers.
Harvey said the group has plenty of time to solidify before the Region 8-AAAA meet.
"My times are coming down every week," he said. "I don't want to peak too early, but I think we've got a lot of gas left in the tank."
Eighteen schools were registered to compete Saturday in the 37th annual meet at Beaufort High School, although a few schools did not make the trip.
Senior Kaila Smith helped the Beaufort High girls to victory, earning track MVP honors. She cruised to victory in the 100 hurdles, with a time of 14.79, and added victories in the 200 and 400 meters, and ran on the winning 4x400 relay.
Beaufort's girls earned key points by dominating the pole vault, with Amanda Barnes, Leah Glover and Allison Crandall sweeping the top three spots. Glover also won the high jump to earn co-field MVP honors.
"If we can work through the injuries and have everybody healthy, I hope to have a good turnout, at least for region," Eagles girls coach Herb Glaze said. "The competition was pretty good today."
Hilton Head Christian Academy senior Reed Shindell threw 146 feet, 9 inches to win the boys discus. Shindell, who signed earlier this year to throw at Clemson, was hard on himself for again not coming close to distances he has thrown in practice, numbers he said would place him in the top 10 in the country.
But he plans to continue to work. The routine has been four hours each day at Bluffton High School, throwing 60-70 times under the eye of his dad, Howard, who threw the hammer at Northeastern.
"This is all I do," Reed Shindell said. "And I love doing it."
Shindell wants one of 20 spots open to discus throwers in the prestigious Penn Relays, held April 25-27. He expects an invite but said another couple of feet on his throws will do it.
The ultimate goal is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and the course he has set to get there involves lifting weights three or four times a week, all of the practice throws and video study. Shindell has called his dad late at night to discuss a technical aspect of a throw he has watched on YouTube. On Saturday, after falling short of his targeted numbers, Shindell rehearsed his throws in the infield.
"What happened?" he asked Howard. "Walk me through it. I wasn't in a good power position? We need to work on that."
Battery Creek senior Shakil Gause also has worked on his form, improving his throw in the shot put and breaking his own school record a second time Saturday, with a toss of 53-8. When he first set the mark as a junior, the distance was 48-1.
Gause has increased his distance by learning to open and close his hips at the correct time and studying video to learn to stay in the ring and pivot correctly. Gause finished third in the state in Class 3-A in 2012 and has the second-best toss in Class 2-A, behind Griffie Loy, from Region 6 foe Bishop England.
"I've just got to keep working on my technique, making sure I've got it down and can perform on that day, at state," Gause said.