Knights are ready to run
HUNTINGTON -- Anyone who knows anything about Cabell Midland boys track and field knows about distance running standout Jacob Burcham.
The senior goes for his third distance sweep this week in the West Virginia High School Championships at Laidley Field in Charleston. The reigning Class AAA champion in the 800, 1600 and 3200 also has the state record for each race.
That, along with the efforts from Mason Dino (800), Brian Lawhon (800), Avery Campbell (1600, 3200) and Jeremy Waugh (1600), and the 4x800, should get a pile of points for the Knights.
However, if Cabell Midland hopes to challenge Class AAA defending champion Jefferson for first place in the boys competition, distance races won't be enough. That's where hurdlers Nate Moore and Niles Dailey come in.
Moore and Dailey have been consistent in the 110 and 300 hurdles along with the shuttle hurdle relay team. A year ago, the Knights did not score any points in those events. Moore is No. 1 in the 100 hurdles and the Knights are No. 1 in the shuttle hurdles. Jacob Morgan, Dailey, Daniel Jarrell and Moore make up that foursome. Dailey won the 300 hurdles in the Region IV meet.
Credit for Moore's and Dailey's rise goes to Knights hurdles coach Jerry Smalley. The two knew little about hurdles before hooking up with Smalley
"We planned for those guys to be one of our strengths," Knights coach Chris Parsons said. "It gives us more depth. The shuttle team has gotten better each week."
Cabell Midland also qualified for the 4x100 and 4x400.
Cabell Midland's girls have several contenders as well. There's Jakeya Perrin in the 200 and 400, Laura Blake (400); Alex Ellis (800), Makenzi Niebergall (100 hurdles) and Haley Hall (100 hurdles). The Knights will also be in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800 and shuttle hurdles.
Field event entries are Siera Gross (high jump), Mackenzie Cassidy (high jump and long jump) and Anna Sheils (high jump).
For Burcham, the state meet puts a wrap on one of the best distance runner careers ever in the Mountain State.
"I haven't though about it that much," Burcham said after winning all three races in the regional at Hurricane High. "It'll hit when I get there. The goal is run the three best races I can."
Burcham went out of state twice this season. He finished 15th in the 3200 in the Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational. His time was 8:59.28, the second time he's gone under 9 minutes in the event. Ben Saarel of Utah won in a meet record-time 8:45.75. Burcham placed third in the mile in the Eastern Relays in Louisville. He ran 4:08.85.
"I'm all right," said Burcham, who will continue his track and cross country career at the University of Oklahoma. "It might look like I'm not on pace. I gave a good effort. I didn't run smart."
Parsons can't believe he's about to say farewell to his distance phenom. He knew he was getting something special after Burcham ran 4:38.10 in the 1600 as an eighth-grader at Barboursville Middle. That time was a national record. Burcham also had a 2:05.50 in the 800 to his credit.
"It's been a great ride," Parsons said.
One of Burcham's goals is to break 4:00 in the mile. The next chance will come in June at a meet in Memphis.
"He has to be in the right race," Parsons said.
Jefferson enters the meet favored to win a fourth straight state title. They have depth in Dante Price in sprints, in the four relays, distance running, long jump and high jump.
"They're the team to beat," Parsons said. "They have more firepower."
Morgantown is defending the girls state title.