Boyle's Hall shows her promise, while Casey's Dixon shows her class

June 06, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LEXINGTON - While one area track and field star made a graceful exit, another made quite a splash in her state meet debut.

It was a promising beginning for Sarah Hall of Boyle County and a happy ending for Rita Dixon of Casey County Saturday at the State Track & Field Championships.

Hall, a freshman competing in only the sixth track meet of her life, had the highest finish of any of the area's Class AA athletes when she placed second in the 400-meter dash.

"It hasn't really hit me yet," Hall said. "I'm just trying to get through the day. I'm kind of stunned."

Dixon was stunned, too, when she finished her high school career by breaking the school record in the 800 that she set three years earlier.


Dixon receives sportsmanship award

And she was even more surprised when she was announced as the winner of a Marines Sportsmanship Award, an award established this year and given to one boy and girl in each class.

"It couldn't have been a better day," Dixon said. "It was enough that I ran a great time in the 800, which has always been my favorite race. But this represents all seven years of running track. This is what it's all been about."

But the endings weren't all happy ones. Casey's Beth Patterson, the defending state champion in the triple jump, had to settle for a third-place finish in her senior season despite coming within two inches of her personal best.

Patterson cleared 35 feet with the first of her six attempts, bettering her performance at last year's state meet by one inch, but she was still nearly three feet off the lead.

"Last year, if I could've gotten a 35 I would've beat everybody by a foot and a half," she said. "Now I'm behind everybody by a foot and a half."

Boyle runners turn in personal-best laps

There were five third-place finishes for area Class AA girls, including one by Boyle's 1,600 relay team, which barely qualified for the finals Friday but saw all four girls run personal-best laps Saturday.

"No matter what place you get, if you get your PR, you have to be happy," junior Sarah Lammy said.

After Erika Adams, Hall and Lammy ran, senior Kathryn Bayless took the baton in fourth place for her final trip around the track. In the first turn, she all but shouted, "No pain, no gain!"

"I kept thinking, 'This is my last season, my last race,'" Bayless said. "I got up one spot. I'm really happy, because those girls are really fast."

Casey teammates Jessica Pierce and Danielle Murphy finished third and fifth, respectively, in the discus on Friday - Murphy had finished third and beaten Pierce by one place last year.

Casey also got a third-place finish from pole vaulter Jessica Propes, who moved up one position from last year.

Casey tops area schools

Those scores helped Casey secure the best finish among area schools in the Class AA team standings. The Lady Rebels, who were a surprising third last year, scored 34 points to place eighth.

Chrystal Claunch of Mercer County also ran third in the 300 hurdles.

Hall had shown considerable raw talent from her first day on the track, when she sprinted through her first 400, not knowing the price she would pay after running four more 400s in that day's practice.

"I had never run a 400 before," she said. "I had no knowledge. I had never been to a meet until the first one I ran. I'd seen it on TV, but I didn't really see how fast people actually run."

Also a star on the Boyle soccer team, Hall competed in only four regular-season meets because of her spring soccer schedule. And she said didn't know what to expect in her first state meet.

"I just really had no idea," she said. "I wanted to finish high, (and) I'm very happy with second.

"It's a very new experience, but this has been an awesome experience."

Winning award meant a lot to Dixon

While Hall is a threat to win future championships, Dixon ends her career without one. But she said being chosen for the sportsmanship award by meet officials meant as much to her as any win would have.

"It's when I can be around people that have enjoyed being around me ... that means more to me than any medal," Dixon said.

"She's an awesome young lady," Casey coach Barry Lee said. "When they told me (about the award) ... it kind of puts a little knot in your throat. And I'm glad she could come back and finish on top like this in her senior year."

Dixon, who will run for Bellarmine University next year, set the school record in the 800 at about 2:26 in her freshman year, and she reset it at 2:25.84 with her fourth-place finish.

"I'd kind of given up on rebreaking it as a senior," she said. "The fact that I was able to do it in my last race ever - I couldn't have run better - that means so much to me."

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