BRISTOL, Va. — John Battle athletes claimed individual state and regional gold during the winter season, highlighting the school’s 2019-20 year of athletics that came to a premature halt because of the coronavirus pandemic that wiped out spring sports.
SAMUEL JUMPS FOR GOLD
Reed Samuel led the Trojans’ effort during the VHSL Class 1 and 2 combined indoor track and field championships in Salem, adding the state long jump gold to his Region 2D championship in the event.
Samuel’s leap of 22-0.75 bettered by more than a foot that of his closest competitor at state.
The Trojans’ 4x400 relay team finished as the state runner-up — its time of 3:40.83 less than a second off John Marshall’s winning effort — and Region 2D champion Andrew Smith placed third in the 2,000 meters.
Battle was the regional champion in the 4x200 relay, and its 4x400 relay finished second in the regionals. Samuel was second in the high jump and Gabe Mutter recorded third-place efforts in the 55 hurdles and in the 4x800.
Johnathan Almany, competing in the 126-pound division, and Christopher Johnson, at 113, won Region 2D titles in the event at Virginia High.
Almany and Jonah Welch, competing in the 220 division, each earned sixth-place finishes in the state tournament.
Smith was the Trojans’ top finisher in the Region 2D championships, crossing the line sixth to qualify for the state championships. He finished 16th at state.
Jules Lemmon placed sixth in the Region 2D girls meet.
John Battle advanced to the Region 2D semifinals before falling to eventual region champion Union, and the Lady Trojans finished the year with a 12-15 mark.
Libero Bethany Smith made the All-Region 2D and All-Mountain 7 District teams. Keelie Pippin was a second-team all-district pick.
First-year head coach Bradley Ricker had a tough introduction to the always-tough Mountain 7 District, but he expected some growing pains. After all, Ricker spent seven years as a Battle assistant before taking the reins of the program.
Senior Tyler McCloud was an All-Region 2D first-teamer and the Times News All-Southwest Virginia pick at tight end. Senior Jayden Farley was the All-Southwest Virginia first-team punter and second-team placekicker.
Gideon Arnold and Andrew Crowder qualified for the Region 2D championships after finishing third and fourth individually at the Mountain 7 District tournament.
Led by All-Mountain 7 pick Bethany Smith, the Lady Trojans went 5-18 — but saved their best for last. Battle lost a heartbreaking 42-41 decision to eventual VHSL Class 2 champion Gate City in the opening round of the Mountain 7 tournament.
Samuel’s All-Mountain 7 selection was a highlight for a Battle team that finished 4-19.