Whiteoak athletes smash records at district


A pair of Whiteoak brothers set a district relay record, one of them broke an individual record, and a first-year thrower from Whiteoak all qualified for the this weekend’s regional meet at the Division III Southeast District Track and Field Championships held in Nelsonville last Wednesday and Friday.

In Division III, the Southeast District is made up of 34 schools across southern and southeastern Ohio.

Whiteoak started off the meet with a bang by winning the boys 4 x 800-meter relay by more than 20 seconds and in doing so broke the district meet record with two sets of brothers (Landen and Keegan Eyre and Weston and Sawyer Blair).

Whiteoak coach Doug Hughes was thrilled with his kids’ performance. “They really went after it. Our best time on the season was an 8:34 and they somehow cut off 16 seconds,” Hughes said. “The younger brothers stepped up big. Sawyer ran a great leg and Keegan raced his best leg of the year by more than 5 seconds and then the big brothers brought it home.”

Friday was the night for every other running event finals and the Wildcat runners kept it going. Landen Eyre set the tone early as one of the preeminent distance athletes in the state as he cruised to a win in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:24.28.

”Landen led the race early and never looked back. He eased up a bit the last 150 meters to conserve some energy for the loaded up 3,200-meter race about an hour later. He was looking at about a 4:17, but was focused on what was next for him. Sixty minutes later he was back on the track for that 3,200-meter race that included three other state-lever runners and one being the state runner-up last year in this event,” Hughes said. “Landen was in a pack of four for the first three laps and the main contender made a move to up the pace and Landen just stayed calm and stayed just behind him. By lap seven Landen had the look that he was about to make things happen and as he crossed the line to start his eighth and final lap he let the stadium know who was going to win that race.”

Eyre finished first with a new district record of 9:15.03 for the two-mile race.

In what many believe was the top race of the night the 800 meter dash was something the district hasn’t seen before. The top three runners all broke the all-time district meet record.

Weston Blair finished runner up with a personal best time of 1:56.90 to seal his spot in the regionals, but to everyone’s surprise he wasn’t moving on alone. His teammate and friend Keegan Eyre bested his career best time by more than five seconds to take the fourth and final qualifying spot with a time of 1:59.98. Hughes was beyond elated.

“Weston just keeps going lower and lower and he’s on his way to huge things but to see him run that time, finish second and collapse onto the infield after the grueling test to his body and then as soon as he realized his younger teammate finished fourth and advanced on too, it was an instant embrace and a perfectly captured moment. Keegan Eyre just sold all out 100 percent. Coming into this meet he had never ran under a 2:07.9 and he somehow busted out a sub two-minute in a race where eighth place was 2:02. It was an absolute wow effort and race.”

The highlight of the night though was not a Whiteoak runner, it was a first year girl thrower — sophomore Matalynn Conrad. She launched a personal best throw of 104’9 to finish fourth out of 48 throwers and qualify for the regional meet.

“This was extra special. Matalynn had never thrown before (this year) and spent most of the year throwing 72 to 84 feet. She’s a wonderful kid that just keeps working and working and doing whatever assistant coach Newman says to do,” Hughes said. “Today she tossed a 94-foot throw that just made everyone so happy for her. It was two throws later though that she launched her perfect throw of 104’9 and all of a sudden this competitor that was likely to finish between 14th and 20th place was now sitting in the fourth position and in the final three rounds she held on to what I believe was the biggest step up moment in the entire meet. The fact that she’s one of the easiest kids to root for makes it even better.”

For the meet, the Whiteoak boys finished fourth overall out of 34 competing schools. The 4 x 800-meter boys will race this coming Wednesday in Heath for a shot at the state meet. The other Wildcats will compete for a state berth on Friday.

Information for this story was provided by Doug Hughes, Whiteoak track coach.

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