By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
The prom could wait.
At least four Greenbrier East female track runners first had more pressing obligations Saturday — at the Big Dance of West Virginia high school track and field, the state championships.
With their prom looming later in the evening, the Spartan quartet of Ashley Morgan, Maddie McClintic, Lindsey McClintic and Shaye Gadomski became belles of the ball by attaining a season-long goal of winning the Class AAA 4x400 relay as the meet wound down at UC Stadium’s Laidley Field.
The Spartans logged a winning time of 4 minutes, 4.9 seconds to bring home the school’s first relay state title. Washington was second in 4:06.0.
“This is definitely the icing on the cake on my senior year,” said third leg Lindsey McClintic.
“We’ve got prom in two hours,” she added. “Some people would skip the meet (in favor of the prom).” That, she said, was never a consideration for her.
Winning the race with “three of my best friends” was an added bonus, the older McClintic said.
Morgan, the squad’s other senior, said the triumph “means a lot,” especially since she’s nearly ready to leave her high school years behind. “I’ve never won a state championship in anything.”
“We trained as hard as we could,” she added, adopting the “train hard, win easy” approach stressed by one of her coaches.
Gadomski, a junior who ran the anchor leg and collapsed as she crossed the line with the victory in hand, said she was nervous after she didn’t perform well in the open 400 event earlier in the day.
“I was really scared,” she said. “At 150 (meters remaining), I thought to myself, ‘I want it more than you (her opponent) do.’ I just needed to work my arms and I needed to breathe.”
Maddie McClintic, a freshman, said she was happy to make contributions as an underclassman. “I’m glad they (her teammates) can enjoy their year.“
Earlier in the day, she posted a second-place effort of 16-6 1/2 in the long jump, a personal best. “That was very exciting.”
An entirely different source existed for Emily Smith’s tears this year.
Smith, a Summers County junior, became emotional as she crossed the line ahead of all the competition in Saturday’s Class AA girls 100 hurdles final. Smith clocked 15.79 seconds to defeat the remainder of the field, which included runner-up Elizabeth Messer (16.23), of Nicholas County.
This year’s tears of joys finally helped ease the stinging tears of disappointment Smith shed last year when she posted the best preliminary time in the state 100 hurdles but wound up falling just short to Shady Spring’s Kristin Boyd, 15.90 to 15.92, in the final.
“It was horrible,” Smith said of her 2012 experience. “I slowed down around the seventh or eighth hurdle; I didn’t keep pushing. For weeks, I was just crying and crying.
“My coach (Nate Tanner) told me I still had two years left. He helped me through it.”
Fast forward to Saturday.
“I definitely pushed for all 10 hurdles this year,” Smith said. “This is awesome.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted in track.”
Fayetteville senior Jonathan Gore finally garnered the state meet gold he’d so long desired.
Gore posted five jumps in the 21-foot range, including the day’s best effort of 21-11 1/4, to capture the Class A boys long jump crown by 10 inches.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do this ever since my sophomore year.”
Gore, who had his winning jump in the preliminary round, hoped to break the 2012 state record of 22-1 3/4 by South Harrison’s Zain Creamer, but he fouled on his final jump.
“I wanted the record bad,” he said. “I knew when I left the line (it had the capability of being a long jump), but he (the judge) said scratch and shot me down.”
Gore later posted runner-up finishes in the 100 (11.28) and 200 (23.52) dashes. He lost the 100 final by a scant 0.01 second to Tyler Consolidated’s Alex Doak, who also captured the 200.
On Friday evening, the Nicholas County girls shuttle hurdle relay team grabbed state meet glory of their own, winning the Class AA title. The quartet of Arianna Crawford, Shayla Stear, Autumn Tyree and Elizabeth Messer claimed the victory by crossing the line in 1:06.27, ahead of runner-up Bridgeport’s 1:07.91.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Tyree, a senior who anchored the victory. “We were coming out of some injuries and didn’t know what to expect.”
Fellow senior Stear, who ran the third leg, said, “It’s just awesome, especially with it being my senior year. Going out like this is the best thing ever.”
“We worked so hard to get here,” said Messer, a sophomore who ran the opening leg. “We beat our school record and got our picture up on the (state champions) wall.”
“I was a little worried about one of the teams (Keyser), but other than that it felt awesome,” said Crawford, a sophomore who ran the second leg.