Track Bucs claim Big X Conference Championship

B-UHS Bucs Track Team poses with Head Coach Patty Wager after securing the 2022 Big X Conference Championship. ROBERTA HATCHER/ The Record Delta

GRAFTON — Head Coach Patty Wager’s Buckhannon-Upshur High School Track Team won seven total events, en route to winning the Big 10 Conference Championship meet overall team title back on Friday, May 6 after amassing a staggering 132 team points. Wager’s Bucs were the only one of the thirteen team field to top the 100-team point milestone.  

Bridgeport finished in a distant second-place with 87 team points. Fairmont Senior took third-place finish with 70 team points. East Fairmont with 51 team points and North Marion with 46 team points rounded out the top five, while Robert C. Byrd (32), Elkins (31), Preston (22), Lincoln (20), Philip Barbour (19), Lewis County (10), Grafton (7) rounded out the rest of the twelve team field.

The Bucs dominate performance saw four individuals and three relay pairings bring home conference championships in their respective events.  

Junior Taiwo Babawale-Thropp got the day started for the Bucs with a strong second-place finish in the 100-meter dash, crossing the finish line in 11.22 seconds. In the 200-meter dash, Taiwo edged out senior brother Sterlin Thropp for second-place on the podium. Babawale-Thropp’s time 22.79 seconds narrowly beat out Sterlin’s time of 23.27, with the two combining to add a combined 14 team points with their second and third-place finishes.  

Sterling Thropp collected the Bucs first win of the evening in the 400-meter run, posting a time of 50.73 seconds, barely edging put junior teammate Shawn Blandino’s second-place time of 51.07 seconds.  

Junior Jordan Gillum kept the positive momentum rolling, picking up the Bucs second straight event win in the 800-meter run. Gillum posted a time of 1:58.88, far ahead of Elkins’ senior Lucas Anger second-place time of 2:08.11. 

Freshman Carter Zuliani had quite the debut in his first Big 10 Conference Championship with his productive trip to Grafton highlighted by a personal best, conference championship winning performance in the discus toss, recording a throw that traveled an impressive 126’ 7” marking the Bucs third individual event win. Zuliani also added a team-best fifth-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles to cap off a strong day individually for the freshman.  

In the 300-meter hurdles, junior Reis Leonard edged out Bridgeport junior Camden Hess for the Bucs fourth and final individual event win of the day. Leonard posted a strong time of 42.99 seconds, getting off to a strong start off the block on his way to earning the conference title.  

The track Bucs dominance over the field continued in the relay portion of the meet, as Wager’s team continued to add to their ever growing tally of team points with three more wins.  

First, in the 4x100-meter relay, the team of: Blandino, Babawale-Thropp, senior Camden Snyder, and junior Savion Farmer combined to collect a third-place finish, crossing the finish line in 45.72 seconds. Then the 4x200-meter relay team consisting of: Thropp, Babawale-Thropp, Blandino, and Snyder picked up the Bucs first relay win of the meet, racing to a blazing fast combine time of just 1:32.12. Next the 4x400-meter relay picked up the Bucs second straight relay race event win, as the team of: Thropp, Blandino, Julian Larcher, and Gillum combined to post an impressive, combined time 3:31.84. The final Buckhannon-Upshur win of the day came in 4x800-meter relay, as the team of: Gillum, Larcher, Leonard, and freshman Jack Waggy combined to record the winning time of 8:21.59, sealing the Bucs their third relay and their seventh overall win of the meet.  

Coach Wager took a minute to speak on her team’s overall person at the Big 10 Conference Championship meet, saying,” We earned the conference championship after showing tremendous team effort despite horrible weather conditions. We were hoping to pick up more points in pole vault, but unfortunately it was canceled due to flooding. Field event athletes Carter Zuliani, Dirk Riley, Dalton Crites, Camden Snyder, and Savion Farmer really helped boost the team score. In terms of relay events, our victorious 4x200-meter and 4x800-meter relay teams managed to post personal best times. Jordan Gillum won the 800 by eight seconds and Reese Leonard won the 300 hurdles and Sterlin Thropp and Shawn Blandino continued their sweep of the 400-meter events.” 

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