Pelion’s outstanding boys track campaign reached another level of success on April 25 when the unbeaten Panthers easily bagged first place at the Region 3-2A championship meet at Memorial Stadium.
The Panthers, who went 28-0 during regular season meets including a win over defending Class 4A state champion Lexington, finished with a winning total of 233.5 points to 146.5 for second-place Keenan.
So far, so good for Mark Bedenbaugh’s team, but the long-time Panthers boss realizes the 2013 season will be judged on how his team does over the next two weeks. Next weekend, Pelion will compete in the Upper State qualifying meet with the goal of advancing enough athletes to the state finals on May 11 at Lower Richland.
“We can compete with anybody at the 2A level in a dual meet setting and in our region, but we haven’t had the talent lately to make a run at state,” said Bedenbaugh. “That could change this season because we have talent in some events that we haven’t had in a while. We’re still strong in the distances and the pole vault.”
The record backs up Bedenbaugh’s claims. The Panthers have secured 17 region titles under Bedenbaugh since 1989, but have never won a state championship and have made the top 10 cut at state only three times since 1998.
But Pelion has the potential to make a serious bid for a top five finish ifs qualifying goes well.
Seniors Terry Davis and Aubrey Hite were the Panther stars at the region finals. Davis was the champion in the 110 hurdles, the high and triple jumps and finished second in the long jump. Davis winning district of 47 feet was the only national elite performance in the meet. Hite beat Eau Claire’s Omar Sharif in the 800 and was second to the Shamrocks star in 1600 individually and ran legs on Pelion’s winning 3200 and 1600 relay teams.
“Terry has a real chance to qualify in those four events, and Aubrey has the strength to go along with his speed this season and we’re looking for big things from him,” said Bedenbaugh. “And I think we might qualify all for relay for the first time, even the 400, which is something we never have done.”
Tim Kneese had a win in the discus and a second-place effort in the shot put. Roman Garcia was the winner in the 3200 and joined Hite on the winning 3200 relay team. Cole Martin struck gold in the pole vault.
The girls team made it a clean sweep for the Panthers with an ever bigger margin of victory than the boys. Pelion posted 246 points to 91.5 for second-place Keenan.
Antoinette Fulton was a two-event champion, winning the 1600 and 3200 distance races, and added a third gold medal for her part on the winning 1600 relay team. Senior Nevada Minard was the 800 champion and bagged silver medals in the 1600 and 3200 races. Kayla Ennis swept the hurdles. Brittany Dorrah (high jump) and Stephanie Shirey (pole vault) were the Panthers’ other event champs.
It was the 12th region title for the Pelion girls under Bedenbaugh, the first since 2010.