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Mercer Track And Field Stars Shine On National Stage

Mercer athletes Jai Maria Piazza, Timberlynn Yeast, Abby Steele and Calicia Smith competed in the New Balance Nationals over the past weekend.

Sam Warren

Herald Staff

Mercer County track and field has proven to be a dominant force in Kentucky due to its recurring success and multiple state championships. Some of the athletes qualified at the state competition this Spring to compete and represent Mercer County on a national level.

This past weekend nine Titan athletes competed in Greensboro, North Carolina at the New Balance Nationals.

The Lady Titans 4×2 team, consisting of Jai Maria Piazza, Haley Blevins, Calicia Smith and Abby Steele, placed 29 out of 53 competing teams. The Lady Titans 4×4 team consisting of Blevins, Piazza, Steele and Timberlynn Yeast finished 31st out of 48 teams.

The experience for the young athletes is sure to benefit the track and field program and help advance it forward. Every athlete competing at the national competition is returning to the program next season and three of the athletes (Yeast, Clayra Darnell and Piazza) have yet to begin their freshman year of high school.

Steele is a part of both of the Titan relay teams, and will be a senior this upcoming school year. She was a part of several record-breaking teams this past season and believes opportunities like this will only improve the team.

“We have all worked hard for all we have achieved. I am thankful that I have got the chance to even make it to nationals, no matter where I place.  I can’t describe how proud and excited I am of my teammates. They’re basically my dream team,” said Steele. “We work well as a team and as individuals. That’s why we are successful.”

Clayra Darnell was also excited for the opportunity to compete in North Carolina and represent Mercer County. Darnell was in the eighth grade this past season and often dominated high school competition. She still has four more years to improve and compete for state championships with the Mercer County track team.

“I am looking forward to these next few years and keeping the dynasty going,” said Darnell.

The Titans only took one male competitor to Greensboro, freshman Matthew Mays. Mays has impressed all season and despite being only a freshman, he was often one of the best jumpers at the meet.

Mays competed against some other great freshman jumpers in Greensboro and finished 15th out of 24 athletes in the triple jump.

“To be honest, I couldn’t even believe I did it. I never thought I could even compare to the top freshman jumpers, so I was ecstatic,” said Mays.

Even more excited than the athletes, head Track and Field Coach Terry Yeast was very happy for the athletes who competed at this national event.

Competing against tough competition and experiencing track and field like they never had before is a good experience for the Titan athletes.

“It was a great experience for our kids on the biggest stage they have ever competed on. The competition was absolutely amazing. I am so glad they had the opportunity to see what the rest of the country looks like. As they get older, they will have the opportunity to shine as well, “ said Yeast. “So proud of them all making it here.”

Find the rest of the story on page 1B of this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald or click here to subscribe.

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