Blake Bishop is in his seventh season as track coach at Hilton Head Island High School.
He has never seen the Seahawks lose the boys 4x800-meter relay at the state meet. Hilton Head High will try to extend its streak to seven consecutive titles in the event today, when the S.C. High School track and field championships begin at Lower Richland.
Bishop and the Seahawks boys are hoping for their second Class 3-A state championship in three years, having won in 2011 with only distance events.
"I think a top-three finish is realistic," Bishop said.
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Hilton Head High is again deep in distance, but qualified more athletes than it did in 2011 and also added possible field points, with Michael Julian qualifying in long jump, Dustin Rogers in high jump and Poona Ford in shot put.
Bishop sees Daniel as the Seahawks' prime competition. Daniel also has a strong distance contingent and could divide the possible points.
The 4x800 team will try to deliver 10 points again. And the 4x400 relay qualified first.
"I think if our distance kids can kind of split their kids up, it will come down to the last race of the day," Bishop said.
Several area athletes should have a chance to win individual state titles.
Beaufort High School's Kaila Smith qualified first in the girls Class 4-A 400-meter hurdles -- three seconds faster than the second-place time -- and she is seeded second in the 100-meter hurdles.
The Eagles senior signed this week with Coastal Carolina University.
In Class 2-A, Ridgeland-Hardeeville's TyDasha Rivers was best at the Lower State girls meet in the 100-meter dash, and Aaliyah Hill captured Lower State titles for the Jaguars in the high jump and long jump.
Battery Creek's Shakil Gause will be working hard in the Class 2-A boys' field events, having qualified for both the shot put and discus.
Whale Branch Early College High School's Devonta' Glover qualified first at 1-A boys Lower State in the 3,200-meter run and teammate Dee Delaney won the 400-meter hurdles. The boys' 4x800-meter relay team also won at Lower State.
Warriors sophomore Kemoni Jenkins won the 400-meter hurdles by four seconds at the Class 1-A Lower State girls championship.
S.C. High School League championships
Friday-Saturday, at Lower Richland High School, Hopkins
Beaufort High: Michael Dickson (110 hurdles), Nathan Parker (400 hurdles), 4x100 relay (Dickson, Desmond Howard, Tony Winston, Darrian Chaplin), 4x400 relay (Nathan Parker, Winston, Chaplin, Howard)
Hilton Head High: Robbie Iulo (800-meter run), Jack Manesiotis (1,600-meter run, 3,200-meter run), Colton Hennessey (1,600-meter run), Sean McMahon (3200-meter run), Cisco Ferre (3200-meter run), Michael Julian (long jump), Dustin Rogers (high jump), Poona Ford (shot put), 4x400 relay (John Baty, Iulo, Michael Julian, Chris Skager, James Sanders, Hennessey), 4x800 (Hennessey, Victor Jimenez, Manesiotis, McMahon, Iulo, Skager)
Battery Creek: Shakil Gause (shot put, discus), David Partridge (pole vault)
Whale Branch: Charles Jiles (800-meter run), Devonta' Glover (1,600-meter, 3,200-meter), Dee Delaney (400-meter hurdles, high jump), Treyvon Bryan (discus), 4x400 relay (Delaney, Jiles, Damian Brown, Tyion Brunson), 4x800 relay (Glover, Brown, Brunson, Jiles)
Beaufort High: Kaila Smith (200-meter dash, 400 hurdles, 100 hurdles), 4x400 relay (Smith, Monique Jones, Aailyah Smalls, Kendra Williams), Amanda Barnes (pole vault)
Hilton Head High: Carley McGlinn (800-meter run, 1,600-meter run), Rachel Friend (800-meter run), Faith Lifer (1,600-meter run), 4x400 relay (Esther Anderson, Friend, Raquell Jenkins, Christina Mason, McGlinn, Madeline Methvin), 4x800 relay (Friend, Mallory Liggett, McGlinn, Mason, Skye Hinteregger, Grankie Schoning)
Battery Creek: Daisja Cannon (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash), Quamecha Morrison (high jump, 100 hurdles)
Ridgeland-Hardeeville: TyDasha Rivers (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash), Aaliyah Hill (high jump, long jump), Tiara Nelson (shot put), 4x100 relay (Rivers, Ky'Neisha Clark, Tiara Nelson, Aaliyah Hill)
Whale Branch: Kemoni Jenkins (100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles), Shaniqua Johnson (high jump), Daja Smalls (triple jump), Jonae Riley (shot put), Renee Smalls (discus), Donique Lykes (discus), 4x400 relay (Jenkins, Mercedes Smalls, Nichole Smalls, Marshayia White)