by Jamie Harris
Back in the spring of 2011 history was made as the Berkeley Springs Lady Indians track team captured the first girls track state team title in school history.
The week before in the Class AA Region II Championships Berkeley Springs finished in second place behind rival Keyser. Going into the state meet Berkeley Springs along with nine other teams had a chance at the state team title. However things would have to fall in place for the Lady Indians.
Former Morgan Messenger sports writer Horace Blankenship wrote the following in the May 25, 2011 article on the Lady Indians.
“RunWV.com and others that follow West Virginia high school track and field forecasted a close team race in the WV Class AA State Championships. They were right! In fact the top 10 teams were separated by 20 points and the final outcome was not decided until the last race (4×400 relay) was completed.
Heading into the final relay Berkeley Springs and Tyler Consolidated (the pre-tournament favorite) were tied for first with 44 points each. With no other teams in position to overtake the leaders, the winning formula was simple. Beat Tyler Consolidated and bring home the state championship.
Well maybe not!
Tyler Consolidated came into the 4×400 meter relay final with a regional time nearly four seconds faster than the Lady Indians.
But in true championship form, Berkeley Springs ran by far, and away, their best time of the year (4:14.25) and finished two places ahead of the Knights in the race and claimed the girl’s first track and field state championship.
The Lady Indians ended up edging Tyler Consolidated 50-46, while Oak Glen, with 10 points in the final, scored 41 points to take third place.
Alicia McJilton ran the opening leg of the 4×400 relay for the Indians. Cruising around the 400 meter oval in about 1:05. She passed the baton to freshman Melissa Colby. Colby ran a strong leg and moved the Indians up to places into third place, when she handed the baton off to junior Leah Kidwell. Kidwell ran other good leg, but was in fifth place when she gave the baton to senior anchor Michelle Williams. Williams passed both Shady Spring and Weir, while fighting off the challenge of Tyler Consolidated to secure the team title for the Tribe.
The quartet cut over 12 seconds off their season best time, and set a new school record in the process.
“I knew we won the team title after beating Tyler Consolidated in the 4×400, but I wasn’t going to celebrate until it was official,” said a stunned Berkeley Springs coach Dave Mundey. I am still kind of numb to be honest with you. The girls knew what was on the line when they stepped on the track for the final race and came through. Although the relay team sealed the win, this title goes to the entire team. It was a total team effort and every point counted.”
Thrower Harlie Stotler got Berkeley Springs started on Friday, May 20. The talented junior captured gold in both the shot put and discus. Stotler, a three-time shot put champion, tossed the four pound kilo ball a winning distance of 37 feet and 9 inches and then hurled the discus 103 feet and 9 inches to win her first discus title.
The 20 points scored by Stotler, put Berkeley Springs in second place behind first day leader Philip Barbour.
The Indians took the lead Saturday morning on the strength of a third place finish place from Williams in the 300 meter hurdles (47.77) and a second place finish by Casey Solomon in the high jump (4’10”) and Toni Davison in the pole vault (8’0”).
Solomon and Davison tied for runner-up spots. In fact, Davison finished in a three way tie. That meant instead of securing the customary eight points that Solomon’s silver was worth seven points and Davison’s was worth six points.
The Tribe’s point total increased to 43 points when the quartet of Colby, Davison, Amanda Case, and Williams placed fourth in the 4×200 meter relay (1:50.67, school record) and then added their 44th point when the 4×100 meter relay team of Jordan Bennett, Colby, Case, and Williams finished in sixth place.
The Indians led the Lady Knights by four points 44-40 until the penultimate event when Tyler Consolidated’s Rheanna Foley scored four points in the 200 meter dash, setting up the 4×400 meter showdown, won by Berkeley Springs.
The state championship in track and field was the first for Berkeley Springs in nearly quarter of a century. The boy’s team captured the 1987 state team title, and the similarities of the two teams state championship wins are striking.
Both teams finished second in their regional tournament. Neither team was considered a favorite to win the state title. Both had a thrower win the shot put and discus (Wayne Sherrard, Jr. in 1987), and both teams sealed the state title in the final event.
“The girls track team began in 1980, and this was their first state title,” Mundey said. “I am just very proud and happy for the girls.”
The 2011 Lady Indians track team will be inducted into the BSHS Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, September 14, at 5 p.m. On Friday, September 13, the Lady Indians will be presented to the home football crowd when the Tribe hosts rival Hancock at half time of the game.
Members at the State Meet are as follows: Dave Mundey, Head Track Coach; David Aberegg, Assistant Track Coach; John Rowland, Assistant Track Coach; Kayla Mundey, Sara Younker, Lacee Fulton, Michelle Williams, Jordan Bennett, Melissa Colby, Amanda Case, Toni Davison, Alicia McJilton, Leah Kidwell, Casey Solomon and Harlie Stotler.