CLARKSBURG, W.Va. - With South Harrison High School and Bridgeport High School both in Harrison County, it's common to see the Hawks and Indians competing at the same track and field meet.
For the past couple of seasons, at the end of those meets it was also common to see two athletes in particular - one from each school, one male and one female - leave the track together. South Harrison's Freddy Canary and Bridgeport's McKenna Smith generally called it a day at the completion of the 200-meter sprint, an event neither lost during the past two seasons.
The shared success went well beyond that one sprint, though, and now the duo are linked once again as the 2018 winners of the McCoy Award, sponsored by The Herald-Dispatch and given annually to the best male and female track and field/cross country athletes in the state by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association. The award is named for the late Ray McCoy, a legendary track coach at Huntington High School.
Smith and Canary will receive their awards May 6 at the 72nd Victory Awards Dinner in Charleston.
Ripley's Tori Starcher and George Washington's Malika Houston finished second and third, respectively, in the female voting. For the males, Winfield's Aaron Withrow was second, and Hedgesville's Kyrae Ramos was third.
Smith, a freshman on the West Virginia University track and field team, was also the 2017 McCoy Award winner for her junior season at Bridgeport and is just the third female to win the award multiple times. Former Buckhannon-Upshur High School and WVU standout Chelsea Carrier-Eades won it in 2007 and 2011 while former Fayetteville High School standout Jessica Taylor won it in 2000 and 2001.
"It's definitely exciting and I'm grateful to win it again," Smith said. "After winning it my junior year I wanted to see if I could win it again as a senior. I hoped I could have an even better year.
"It's great to win it with Freddy, he deserves it. I'm excited to see what type of times he can put up in his senior season."
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, Smith and Canary began training together at Wes Brown's Gorilla Strength and Fitness. The two also traveled and competed together in a handful of indoor meets to gear up for high school seasons that ended with a combined eight state titles and seven state records.
As a junior, Smith's astounding season ended with what at the time was considered the best state meet performance by an individual history. She didn't lose a race in 2016 and set all-time state records in the 100, 200 and 400 meter runs and also captured a state meet record in the 300 hurdles.
Then her senior season happened.
After another dominant regular season and regional meet, Smith's final high school event - the 2017 state meet - was another one for the ages.
She didn't just win four state championships. She didn't just set four new state meet records. She set four all-time records - that's for any class at any point in the season and of all time. Three of those, she was just breaking her own marks, two of which she had just set again during preliminaries. The new one was the 300 hurdles where her time of 43.04 shattered the all-time mark of 43.10.
Smith broke her own records in the 400 with a time of 54.61 and in the 100 with a time of 11.85.
Prior to the 2016 season, there were two times in the history of the state that a female ran a sub 12.00 100-meter dash, one of which was a hand-held time. Smith broke 12.00 eight times between 2016 and 2017, and her 11.85 likely won't be approached for quite some time.
Smith's final race as a high school athlete was the 200, which she won a state title for the third time in her career, finishing with a time of 24.49, slightly off the 24.36 she ran in preliminaries that now stands as the all-time record.
"I wouldn't say I was more relaxed my senior season but I knew I could break a record because of what I did as a junior," Smith said. "I just wanted to keep breaking them."
The end of Canary's junior season with the Hawks was just impressive. On day one of the state meet, he captured his first-ever state title in the long jump on his first attempt with a leap of 21 feet, 4.50 inches. He then turned his attention to the 100, 200 and 400 - three races he hadn't lost in all year.
First up for Canary were qualifying heats in the 100 and 200 in which he broke his own Class A state meet records from 2016 with times of 10.81 and 21.50 seconds, respectively.
He broke the 100 record one more time the next day with a time of 10.68. He also set the new Class A record in the 400 with a time of 48.07 (the previous best mark was 49.57). Canary's state meet ended with a time of 21.58 in the 200, just off his preliminary time but plenty fast enough to secure his fourth state title.