MOUNT VERNON — A pair of high school athletes from Knox County, qualifying for the track and field regionals together in the same individual event would get plenty of attention.
Would you believe that this year’s regionals features a pair of athletes from the same school in one event? Even more amazing is that it’s actually happening twice. One pair in Centerburg and the other in Howard.
The Trojans featured school record holder Kayla Bosworth in the girls 400-meter dash at the Division III Regionals at Fairfield Union High School. She was joined by teammate Victoria Holt. Both ran in different qualifying heats on Wednesday, and each held the starting blocks for the other.
“All I could think about was catching Kayla,” said Holt, who rated eighth among runners at the districts, but managed to pull off a surprise fourth-place finish to get a regional berth. “We played cat and mouse and she pulled so far up there, she got the school record and I’m so happy for her.”
“I was so pumped when Victoria got fourth,” said Bosworth. “We’ve both worked real hard to get where we’ve gotten. I’m just so glad to have a teammate make it out with me.”
The boys Division II Regional in Dayton will feature the familiar face of East Knox’s Paul Blanchard. He was nosed out of second place in the 3,200-meter run by teammate Brice Emler, who managed to edge his older teammate by a mere four-one hundredths of a second.
“They’ve been running neck-and-neck with each other all year long,” said East Knox distance coach Ron Fannin. “Brice has improved this year. He’s relatively new to our program. Paul has been around a few years but, all year long, they’ve been running close together. Paul finishes ahead of Brice one race. Brice finishes ahead of Paul in the next race.”
So just how close is four-one hundredths of a second?
“Brice got past me in the last hundred meters,” said Paul of his third place finish in the Districts. “I slowed down a bit. I didn’t see him coming and he got me on a lean at the finish. I’m glad he got second — he deserved it.”
Blanchard has watched the Bulldogs’ track program grow into a much more formidable one in the in past few seasons. Because the Bulldogs also qualified as a team, Blanchard and Emler have much more to think about than the 3,200.
“I’m really happy that we did this as a team,” said Blanchard. “I just want to see us keep getting better.”
“It feels great,” said Emler, who will also run the 4x800-meter relay. “All of us going together to be united as one. We’re all running in sync we’re all running in good stride, We’re doing real well. Everyone’s times are getting lower and lower.”
With Blanchard and Emler, the rivalry only happens when the starting gun goes off.
“Brice knows how to run,” said Blanchard. “He’s really talented. I’d say that he’s got more talent than me. He’s just got to put in the miles and keep getting better.”
“It’s been some mentoring — Paul’s taught me a lot,” said Emler. “I didn’t do (track) running very much. I used to do cross country in junior high, but I decided to hop into track and Paul showed me the way.”
For a short time, these runners will glance over at a familiar face at they await the start of the race.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Emler. “We’re going to be watching each other and looking to beat each other’s time. We want to see who’s going to get across the finish line first and we’re going to be pushing to try to get on to state.”
Bosworth qualified fifth for the finals of the 400 on Wednesday with a time of 1:00.49, while Holt finished 11th overall in 1:03.13.