Kelsie Courtney is state champ in two events

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Class A Track & Field

By Dave Taylor

Trimble County High School track & field standout Kelsie Courtney is the state champion in two events following the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Class A Track & Field championships held Thursday at the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Park. In both the 300 hurdles and the high jump, Courtney defeated defending champions vying for repeat performances.


Head Coach David Apel took 13 members of the Trimble track & field team to the state meet and 11 actually competed.

Courtney improved on last year’s runner-up finish in the high jump, winning that event at 5-9. Defending state champion Catherine Claywell, a senior from Murray, was second at 5-6. Nia Gibbs-Francis, of Fort Campbell, was third at 5-2. In taking runnerup honors in 2011 Courtney had cleared the bar at 5-4.

“Kelsie and the second place girl, Catherine Claywell, who won state the last three years in the high jump, were competing long after the other girls had gone out,” Apel said. “It was very exciting to watch their duel. Kelsie had made the same height as Catherine last year but had one more miss than Catherine and so placed second. This year Kelsie made sure of her victory by clearing a height that Catherine could not clear and breaking her school record again in the process.”

Courtney, a junior, took first place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.07, just ahead of defending champion Diamond Pace, a senior from Danville, 46.12; and Meghan Burke, a junior from St. Henry, 47.30. Courtney had been seeded at 47.53. She was 10th in the same event at state a year ago with a time of 50.49.

“Her 300 hurdles race was equally exciting as she just nosed out Diamond Pace by 5/100’s of a second,” Apel said.

Courtney was fifth in a third event, the pole vault, at 8 feet even.

“We had several successes to finish the year besides Kelsie,” Apel said. “Both our girls and boys 4x800 teams set season bests.”

Trimble’s girls took 11th place overall in the Class A state meet. Other notable achievements by the Trimble ladies included a 10th place finish in the 4x800 Meter Relay. Trimble’s team consisted of Kirsten Baird, Kylie Wilberding, Erin Gonterman and Morgan Chappell. The girls finished with a time of 10:36.04, or significantly quicker than they were seeded at 11:02.48.

“The girls ran 30 seconds faster at state than they had all season,” Apel said of the 4x800 team.

Trimble’s boys’ 4x800 Meter Relay team of Christian Apel, Conner Ball, Kyle Puckett and Justin Williamson finished 10th with a time of 8:45.11, better than they were seeded at 8:57.29.

“One thing that sometimes gets missed in results is the contributions of team members,” Apel said. “For example, Justin Williamson lowered his 800 time so dramatically this year. In the last week of the season and at state he ran 9 seconds faster than he had in a meet all season. This comes from a guy who thought he was a sprinter at the start of the season and who we had to talk into running the 800.”

Among other girls’ highlights: Gonterman finished 14th in the 800 Meter Run, Wilberding finished 13th in the 3200 Meter Run and Olivia Cooley took 20th place in the triple jump.

“I was proud of Olivia Cooley who fought through the knee pain that she had experienced all year to set her season’s best in the triple jump,” Apel said.

Trimble senior Stuart Barnes scored the highest finish of the local team in the boys’ competition placing in a tie for eighth place in the high jump. Barnes also took home a 19th place finish in the triple jump. Conner Ball placed 12th in the 800 Meter Run.

“Stuart really provided senior leadership this year,” Apel said. “He was constantly a positive force on the team. So I was extremely excited to see him place 8th at the state meet in the high jump.”

Apel will return in the fall as the head coach of Trimble’s cross country program.

“I am extremely excited about that as distance running is my first passion,” he said. “I was a head coach in Cross Country before but had never been a Head Track coach–I was the distance coach in track before. I enjoyed learning more about all the track and field events and expanding my coaching knowledge this spring.”