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Fort Knox Sets Records at 1-A Meet

by Grant Wieman

The News Enterprise
Elizabethtown, KY | May 18, 2018

Porter Sets New Class A Record
Porter Sets New Class A Record | Photo: Jill Pickett

LEXINGTON — The Fort Knox 4x200 relay team had its sights set on breaking the Class 1-A state record for three seasons. They finally got to Thursday at the KHSAA State Track & Field Championships.

Junior Jasiah Tudryn and seniors Jaylun Wallace, Geoffrey Grad-ney and Josh DeRivas finished the race in 1 minute, 29.00 seconds to win the state championship and break the record of 1:29.76 set in 2012.

“You never know what can happen, but I knew that my team could really just get that record if we push ourselves and that’s what we did,” said Gradney, who ran the third leg and finished second in the 200-meter dash. “I knew that we had the fastest time, but I don’t like going by stats because you never know what can happen on any day.

“I just went in knowing that my team was gonna do good and we were gonna do our best to beat whatever record that we could.”

The Eagles capped the night with Wallace anchoring the 4x400 team to the state championship.

Wallace also won the 400. Fort Knox finished fourth in the team standings after winning last season.

“Jaylun completely shocked me in the 400,” Fort Knox coach Terry Turner said. “We needed him to get points. We talked it over and he just went out and dominated, for lack of a better word. We went out in the 4-by-2 and they dominated again. … They just came out here and established themselves.

“Everything that we have practiced and the swagger that I’ve been asking them for, we did it. We didn’t win state, but we gave everybody a run for their money. We made it hard for people to win state, for sure.”

Wallace joined the team this season when he transferred from a school in Alaska. It was his first time running track in high school.

Wallace entered the night seeded fourth in the 400, but he said knowing he’d challenge some of the state’s top runner would push him well past his previous personal record of 51.19 seconds set at the Region 2 meet last week.

He struggled with pacing in the race early this season, but didn’t concern himself with that Thursday.

“Today I just sprinted the majority of the whole thing and really got whatever I had left in the tank for the last 200,” he said.

Senior Jabari Jackson, Gradney, senior Zach Loiselle and Wallace were on the 4x400 team.

The Eagles were second in the 4x100, with senior Maleeq Walters, Tudryn, DeRivas and Gradney taking the baton.

Wallace finished sixth in the 800. He was last among 14 runners in the final heat with 300 meters left before making his move.

“My coach told me to stay third or fourth, but they were moving a lot faster and I was gonna need to put in more energy into, so I stayed in the back and kept myself at a pace that I knew I could pass a group in the last 200,” he said. “That’s when I like to pick off people. … I get a lot of energy back really fast for some reason, so it doesn’t really bother me.”

The 4x200 record was the highlight for the Eagles, as they went in favored and accomplished their goal.

Gradney said his energy picked up as the race progressed, even before he ran his leg.

“When I saw Jasiah running the first leg, as soon as the race started, my heart was pumping,” Gradney said. “I was energized, I was ready. It just got me pumped because I knew he was gonna do excellent. I have the utmost confidence in my team. I just knew they were gonna do so well.

“When he handed off to Jaylun, that’s when I really, really got energetic and nervous because I knew he was coming to me and I was getting the handoff. … When I got the baton, I just tried to do my best and catch up to the guy (from Danville).”

Gradney said he focused on his own form for the first 50 meters, then looked up and saw he was closing in on the runner from Danville, which finished second in the race.

He moved to the front and DeRivas finished the race off.

DeRivas was fourth in the 100-meter dash and seventh in the 200.

Sophomore Xavier Rodriguez was seventh in the 110-meter hurdles. Loiselle was ninth in the high jump. His 5-foot-10 clearance was tied for second, but he entered the height with two faults instead of one.

GIRLS. Fort Knox junior Saleia Porter shattered the Class 1-A KHSAA State Track & Field Championships record and raced the fastest 400-meter dash of anyone this season, regardless of class, to win the race in 55.91 seconds.

Porter surprised herself with the winning time, which topped the record 56.95 set in 2015.

“I was really just trying to PR and get to 56-flat,” she said. “When I heard 55, I broke down because I had no idea. I couldn’t look up at the clock. I was so zoned in and everything was spinning. When they said I had a 55, I was just elated.”

Porter went 2-for-2 in individual events later in the night when she won the 200 in 25.56 seconds. She entered as the top seed in both events.

Porter’s drive forced first-year coach Terry Turner to make an unorthodox move in the 4x400 relay.

In order to protect her from herself, Turner positioned Porter at the third leg in the race instead of the anchor, placing her between senior Jenna Doehring and junior Taylor Nordman.

“I put her at the third leg so she’s a breaker,” he said. “I felt like if she was anchor and we were in sixth place, that’s a big distance. She would have to pass some really fast girls and I would never want to put her in a position where she’s almost passing out to just get to second place.

“Where she is in third leg, she can break that pack and not worry about coming all the way from behind just to pass somebody. … That’s how hard a worker she is. In the 400, she said she ‘whited-out’ because she was running so hard. That type of commitment, sometimes you have to protect them from themselves.”

Fort Knox was in seventh place when Porter took the handoff in the 4x400. By the time she rounded the final curve, Porter was in front.

“I really didn’t know,” Porter said. “I was too focused on trying to get my team back in the race. Wow. I had no idea. … This was my last race. I had to give everything I had. I had to find every piece of strength that was left in me to push my team through and I just tried to get them in the best place I could possible.”

“She usually does that,” said eighth-grader Sage Tudryn, who ran the opening leg. “She’ll pass anyone that’s in front of her.”

The Lady Eagles came up inches short of the event win, with junior Natalie Pope – runner-up in the 400-meter dash – closing out the win for St. Henry.

Turner said he knew Porter could make a big impact on the team when she transferred from a school in Maryland last July.

When she ran a 58-second 400 during an indoor meet over the winter, that was confirmed. Yet the times are only part of what she brings to the group.

“As the year progressed, we just kept pushing, kept fighting,” Turner said. “She’s such a hungry young woman. There’s nothing that she will not do to make sure she’s the absolute best on the track. Second place is not good enough for her. This year, she’s come in second a lot and that just made her mad.

“She’s consistent, one of the best leaders I have on the team.”

Porter credited Coach Gideon Tinch at Dr. Henry A. Wise in Maryland for helping her get to where she is now.

The goal going forward – and she expects to be back at Fort Knox next season, “if nothing happens in the next two weeks, yes,” she said – is to get down to a 53-second 400 next season.

With the majority of the 4x400 team back, it could set the Lady Eagles up for even greater success.

“We just had to believe that we could do it, and we did,” Tudryn said.

Tudryn, junior Abby Donohue, Nordman and Porter were third in the 4x200.

Seventh-grader Sadie LeBlanc was ninth in the 1,600. Tudryn was 13th in the 400, setting a personal record at 1:03.24.

“Kayla Reynolds came out of nowhere today for the hurdle,” Turner said. “Sage Tudryn is I’m pretty sure the only eighth-grader in the 4x400 out on that track today. She established herself. … I have an amazin group of girls and I have all these girls coming back and they’re hungry. They got a taste of what they want and they’re gonna push forward even more.”

Reynolds was 15th in the 100 hurdles.

St. Henry won the team event. Fort Knox was seventh.

4 x 200 Relay Sets New Class A Record
4 x 200 Relay Sets New Class A Record | Photo: Jill Pickett

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