GRATON — Head coach Patty Wager’s Buckhannon-Upshur High School track and field team won seven events in total, en route to capturing the Big 10 Conference Championship and overall team title on Friday, May 6 after amassing 132 team points. Wager’s Bucs was the only one of the thirteen teams to surpass the 100 team point mark.
Bridgeport finished a distant second with 87 team points. Fairmont Senior took third place with 70 team points. East Fairmont with 51 team points and North Marion with 46 team points round out the top five, while Robert C. Byrd (32), Elkins (31), Preston (22), Lincoln (20), Philip Barbour ( 19), Lewis County (10), Grafton (7) completed the rest of the twelve teams.
The Bucs’ dominating performance saw four individuals and three relay duos claim home conference championships in their respective events.
Junior Taiwo Babawale-Thropp started the day for the Bucs with a strong second-place finish in the 100 yards, crossing the finish line in 11.22 seconds. In the 200 meters, Taiwo edged older brother Sterlin Thropp for second place on the podium. Babawale-Thropp’s time of 22.79 seconds narrowly beat Sterlin’s time of 23.27, the two combining to add a combined 14 team points with their second and third place finishes.
Sterling Thropp earned the Bucs’ first win of the night in the 400 meters, posting a time of 50.73 seconds, just edging second-place junior teammate Shawn Blandino in 51.07 seconds.
Junior Jordan Gillum kept the momentum going, earning the Bucs the second straight victory in the 800-meter race. Gillum posted a time of 1:58.88, well ahead of second-place Elkins Lucas Anger in 2:08.11.
Freshman Carter Zuliani debuted his first Big 10 conference championship with his productive trip to Grafton highlighted by a personal best, a conference championship-winning performance in the discus throw, recording a throw that ran an impressive 126’7” marking the Bucs third win of the individual event. Zuliani also added a team-best fifth-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles to cap off a good day individually for the rookie.
In the 300-meter hurdles, junior Reis Leonard edged out Bridgeport junior Camden Hess for the Bucs’ fourth and final individual win of the day. Leonard posted a solid time of 42.99 seconds, getting a strong start from the block en route to winning the conference title.
The Bucs track’s dominance of the field continued into the relay portion of the competition, as Wager’s side continued to add to their ever-growing team points tally with three more wins.
First, in the 4×100 meters relay, the team of: Blandino, Babawale-Thropp, senior Camden Snyder and junior Savion Farmer combined to take third place, crossing the finish line in 45.72 seconds. Then the 4×200-meter relay team of: Thropp, Babawale-Thropp, Blandino and Snyder took the Bucs’ first relay victory of the competition, rushing to an insanely fast combine time of just 1:32 ,12. Then the 4×400 meter relay earned the Bucs’ second consecutive relay race win, as the team of: Thropp, Blandino, Julian Larcher and Gillum combined to post an impressive combined time of 3:31, 84. The final Buckhannon-Upshur win of the day came in a 4×800 meter relay, as the team of: Gillum, Larcher, Leonard and rookie Jack Waggy combined to record the winning time of 8:21.59, sealing the Bucs their third stint and seventh overall victory in the competition.
Coach Wager took a minute to talk about his team’s overall personality during the Big 10 Conference Championship game, saying, “We won the conference championship after showing hard work. considerable team despite horrible weather conditions. We were hoping to score more points in the pole vault, but unfortunately it was canceled due to flooding. Field event athletes Carter Zuliani, Dirk Riley, Dalton Crites, Camden Snyder and Savion Farmer really helped boost the team’s score. In terms of relay events, our winning 4×200 meter and 4×800 meter relay teams managed to record personal bests. Jordan Gillum won the 800 by eight seconds and Reese Leonard won the 300 hurdles and Sterlin Thropp and Shawn Blandino continued their sweep of the 400 meter events.