BEST OF THE BEST
CHARLESTON – Oak Glen senior Kelsey Chambers is a two-time state champion.
And, she still has two events left to run.
“Today was great,” she said moments after winning the Class AA 3200 by some 60 meters Friday in the West Virginia State Track and Field Championships at the University of Charleston’s Laidley Field.
“I hope tomorrow is just as good.”
She will run the 1600 and 800 today.
In a patient, tactical race, Chambers watched where she was at all times and did everything in her power to avoid being boxed in.
“I really wanted to start fast because I saw everyone else going, but I thought that if I start too fast I won’t have an end, so I just held back and waited,” she said. “It was kind of crowded, so I stayed far enough back to where I knew I could catch up.
“I had a game plan. I wanted to wait because I wanted to try to get as far away as possible at the end.”
“That was my plan,” she said with a large smile. “I didn’t want anyone near me at the end. I was surprised it worked out that well, honestly. I thought it was going to be one of those sprint-to-the-finish-line type of things.”
At the 300 mark of lap 5 she got herself out a boxed-in situation and with 700 meters to go, started slowly pulling away.
Her time of 11:41.83 was 12 seconds better than Samantha Stout of Webster County.
Chambers felt the OVAC meet two weeks ago was a big help to her today, even though it didn’t seem like it at the time.
“I had a meltdown after the 8 (800) just knowing I had about 10 minutes before the hardest race, two-mile,” she admitted. “I had the hardest race to run and it was my last race. I was so tired. Doing it all together is like a huge, tough workout. It gave me more endurance, I feel like.
“But, I think that day helped me today. I was still tired coming into the 32, but I still felt better than at OVACs. It really prepared me for today. I’m grateful, actually. It was hard at the time, but I’m kind of glad I did all four events (4×800, 1600, 800, 3200) that day.
Earlier in the day, the Oak Glen girls 4×800 relay team had huge bullseyes on their collective backs and they knew it.
One team raced out to a huge lead in the first leg and it took everything in Christen Mangano’s not to chase her down.
“I wanted to,” she admitted. “But, I was afraid I would be going out too fast and would die at the end.”
Mangano held her pace and teammates Alex Arnott, Felicity Nolder and Chambers took care of the rest.
Their 10:05.61 was 8.42 seconds faster than Berkeley Springs to claim the Class AA title.
“I’m usually nervous anyway, but that (being heavy favorites) made me ever more nervous because we were supposed to be so far ahead and you never know what could happen,” said Mangano.
Mangano handed the baton to Arnott and she took the lead down the back stretch.
“I just tried my best to get up in front,” Arnott remarked. “I tried to get us on the best position I could. I was happy with how I ran.”
Arnott handed the baton to Felicity Nolder, who had a good two-lap battle with Kinsey Reed of Webster County.
“We’ve been working for this all season after we were letdown last year when we lost to Weir,” Nolder said. “We didn’t want that to happen again and I didn’t want to ruin it for everyone.
“I think everyone was nervous before the race, but I believe, most of all, we were excited for it.”
Chambers received the stick and gradually lengthened the lead.
“I was really nervous when I saw we were tied for first coming down the stretch,” she said. “I just did my best and hoped it was enough to win.”
She also believed the run at OVACs helped the foursome.
“That race made today’s seem not so hard,” she admitted. “We run against really good competition at OVACs and it prepared us for today’s race.
“I have faith in my teammates and myself.”
The Oak Glen girls sit in second place in the team standings with 21 points, nine behind Ritchie County.
Also on the day:
- Madonna’s foursome of Hannah Barger, Gabriella Anile, Tessie Tokash and Dominique Brown finished fourth in the shuttles (1:10.62).
- The Blue Dons’ Barger, Gabrielle Kotten, Cameron Dowiak and Emille Pollard finished sixth in the 4×800 (10:40.88).
- Oak Glen’s Tori Feicht, Kimberly Smith, Marissa Nolder and Megan Nally finished sixth in the shuttles (1:10.51).
- Oak Glen’s Cody Tropeck, Cyle Perez, Zach Mynes and Brock Smith placed sixth in the 4×800 (8:29.92).
- Weir’s JoJo Rice qualified in the 100 (11.21) and 200 (23.21). Teammate Cole Slates qualified fourth in the 200 (22.97). He is the defending state champ. Donovan Spencer qualified in the 100 (11.27).
- Madonna’s Marquise Jeter qualified second in the Class A 200 (23.50).
- Brooke’s Gavin Lewis qualified in the 100 (11.24).
- Madonna’s Lea Colantonio qualified in the 100 (13.4).