Fort Knox won three individual titles and three relays Friday night to win its second straight region championship. A year after winning the Class 1-A, Region 3 title, the Eagles returned to Green County and won the region championship by scoring 129 points and beating Green County and Owensboro Catholic by 18 points.
“I’ve only been doing track for two years, and we’ve won back-to-back region championships,” said Fort Knox senior Zach Loiselle, who ran the third leg on the winning 4x100-meter relay squad. “I think it’s really big for us. We’re a small 1-A school and we’re out here doing big things.”
The Eagles got wins from senior Geoffrey Gradney in the 200 dash, senior Jaylun Wallace in the 400 and junior T.J. Pittman in the long jump. They also won the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400, giving them just enough to hold off Green County and Owensboro Catholic for the team title.
“A lot of people doubt Fort Knox because we’re such a small school and we lose people every year,” first-year coach Terry Turner said. “It’s really awesome to know we’re starting a tradition here at Fort Knox to push it further. It makes more kids want to come out and run for us. It makes more people to take notice. We’re tired of being everybody’s little brother. We want to show people that we’re here and we’re here to fight as hard as everybody else.”
It’s been a solid run for Fort Knox, which parlayed the region title into a state title under former coach James Bleecker.
Turner, who was an assistant for three seasons, was hired to take his place – and the Eagles haven’t missed a stride.
“I had a lot of faith in Coach Terry,” said senior Josh DeRivas, who was on the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, and placed third in the 100 and fourth in the 200. “Even when Coach Bleecker was here, Coach Terry was always the man there to help us out on handoffs and relays. He always made sure everything was down pat, and that’s why I was so confident in him this year.”
The Eagles scored in 17 of the 18 events, and had two athletes point in five of those.
Wallace was also runner-up in the 800, while sophomore Xavier Rodriguez was second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles. Senior Jamal Meekins was second in the long jump, with senior Maleeq Walters taking fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus. Senior Christian Castro placed sixth in the shot put and sophomore Sidney Gradney was sixth in the triple jump.
“It’s very motivating,” Walters said of winning region again as a team. “Last year we were region champs and state champs. To get region back-to-back is overwhelming in a good way.
“We need to carry this momentum and stay sharp.”