Blakley, Pelletier garner State crowns; injury undermines McCorkel
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RUSSELLVILLE — The Bryant Hornets had a rollercoaster experience in route to an eighth place finish at the 7A State Track and Field Championships at Russellville High School. The Hornets rode first place finishes by Jason Pelletier in the pole vault and Ethan Blakley in the 3200 meter run to a total of 40 points. Pelletier and Blakley both qualified for the Meet of Champions on May 23rd at Cabot High School.
Other scorers for the Hornets were Blakley in the 1600 meter run (2nd in 4:27), the 3200 meter relay team of Blakley, Josh Harrison, Todd McAdoo, and Ben Higgs (3rd in 8:18), Matt Schrader in the long jump (4th in 20’10.5″), and Ben Griffin in the pole vault (8th at 12′ 0″).
Bryant senior Spencer McCorkel, who is the top-ranked high school pole vaulter in nation, was unable to clear his opening height because of a hand injury he suffered at a practice session last Friday. McCorkel had 18 stitches to his hand on almost the exact same area as a previous injury he suffered at the state meet two years ago. McCorkel also scratched from the 200 meter dash in order to concentrate on trying to vault.
“It was a very emotional day for us,” said Hornets head coach Steve Oury. “I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids. Spencer didn’t have to try to vault. It would have been completely understandable for him to scratch from the meet, because the cut on his hand was just awful. It took a lot of courage to go out there and give it his best shot.
“I’m proud of Jason for taking care of business and making sure the pole vault state championship stayed at Bryant,” added the coach. “I know Ben was very disappointed since he has cleared 13 feet before. He cleared 12-6, but the pole kept moving forward and knocked the bar down.
“Ethan Blakley had a remarkable meet,” Oury added. “After the 3200 relay I could tell he was not feeling well. Before the 1600 started I was afraid he was not even going to score because he looked like he felt terrible. After he held on for second place he threw up for several minutes on the infield. To come back later and win the 3200 meter run was just awesome. He had a blazing finishing kick over the last 200 meters to pull away for the win. His time of 9:40.3 lowered his own school record by half a second.
“I was very pleased with Matt Schrader,” he said. “He came up big with a fourth place finish. Based on the jumps turned in from the conference meets, he was probably about sixth or seventh, so he did a great job of rising to the occasion.
“This was a successful year for the Bryant Hornet track team,” Oury concluded. “We are going to miss the seniors and I certainly wish the good luck in their future endeavors.”