ELKTON — Strasburg’s Kyierra Ashby came tantalizingly close to qualifying for the Class 2 State Track and Field Championships a year ago, and achieving that feat was at the top of her list of goals heading into her junior season. As it turns out, Ashby figures to be pretty busy when she returns to East Rockingham next weekend.
Ashby qualified for the state meet in three events at the Region 2B Championships at East Rock on Wednesday afternoon, earning second place in the girls long jump and triple jump and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles.
“I think I did pretty good,” Ashby said while seated on the grass outside the bullpen shortly after running a leg of Strasburg’s 4x400 relay, which missed state qualification — reserved for the top four place-winners in each event — by one spot. “I got two seconds and a fourth, so I’m going to states in those three events. I feel pretty accomplished because I came to regions last year and got fifth. I was so close to going to states and didn’t make it. So I’m feeling accomplished.”
Ashby entered the regional meet seeded fifth in the long jump but took silver with her leap of 15-07.75. She had the top seed distance in the triple jump but settled for second place after jumping 34-05.00.
Ashby, who added the 300 hurdles to her repertoire for the first time this spring, placed fourth in that event (50.86). Rams head coach Ina Rae Crisman said Ashby, who had the second-fastest seed time, clipped a hurdle early in the race and was fortunate she didn’t stumble.
“It makes me feel like I can probably do better because after running the 300 (hurdles), I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be,” Ashby said. “I think next week when I run them again, I’ll be able to run a lot quicker.”
The best local finish in the 300 hurdles came from Central senior Mikayla Helsley, who claimed second place with a time of 49.57 seconds. Helsley trimmed a full second off her previous best time.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Helsley, who crossed the finish line a second behind Wilson Memorial’s Paige Miller, the defending state champ. “I was ranked fourth for that race. It just came out of nowhere. I felt good and tried my best.”
Helsley, running in lane seven, reached the hurdles at the beginning of the final 100 meters around the same time as Miller before watching the Wilson junior pull away.
“I had no idea,” Helsley said when asked if she knew she was at the front of the pack through the turn. “I don’t know if they’re by my side or what because we’re always staggered when we get to the last 100. … I was doing fine. I didn’t hit any hurdles. I hit the one right before the turn though because sometimes I get nervous when I’m almost done.”
Helsley was one of two Falcons to earn silver on the girls side on Wednesday. Senior thrower Tycara Scott was second in the shot put for the second straight year with a throw of 36 feet, 4 inches. Lytton said Scott is where she needs to be heading into the Class 2 State Championships, which will take place at East Rockingham on May 31 and June 1.
“The last two weeks she’s been throwing very consistently,” Lytton said. “The little things that needed to be worked on, she’s working on those and getting rid of some wrinkles that needed to be taken care of.”
Central’s Maya Frye-Williams was third in the long jump (15-04.50).
Strasburg senior Daniella Henry, who won the discus at the Region 2B Championships last season, couldn’t replicate that on Wednesday but did qualify for the state meet in both throwing events. Henry placed third in the discus (118-02) — she won a regional title with a distance of 108-10 last season (East Rock’s Koschinya Jefferson won it on Wednesday with a throw of 136-09) — and fourth in the shot put (32-08).
“She’s not been where she was last year, so we have a little less than a week to get that going,” Crisman said. “But the thing about Daniella is she’s just very consistent. She’s just always going to be hanging around. It’s just a matter of where. So I would imagine she’ll perform really well at the state meet.”
Strasburg also got a silver-medal performance from its 4x800 relay team of Tessa Hockman, Abby Davis, Emma Himelright and Katie Bromley, which placed second with a time of 11:10.10.
“I think for the most part it was what I expected as far as advancing, (with) some of the ones winning and placing a little higher than they thought,” Crisman said. “Quite honestly, the girls 4x8, although they went two seconds slower than their best time, they really gutted out a performance. We’ve got some hampering injuries and stuff.”
East Rockingham ran away with the team title on the girls side, piling up 134 points to easily outpace runner-up Wilson Memorial (86). Strasburg (40) was fifth and Central (26) was seventh out of 11 teams.