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The gold standard: Multiple area athletes win Class 2A state track titles |

LEXINGTON Call it a triple feature.

Ashland’s Thomas Skaggs, Ashland’s Emma Latherow and Boyd County’s JB Terrill all won state titles at Friday’s Class 2A meet at the University of Kentucky.

Latherow was first. She won the discus with a throw of 110 feet, 11 inches on her final attempt. She finished just under seven feet ahead of Hopkins County Central’s Sarah Keown.

Skaggs was next. His 13-0 was good enough to win the pole vault.

Terrill completed the show when he won the 800 meters in a state-record 1 minute, 54.25 seconds.

“It just shows that we’re comin’ up,” Terrill said. “Because we’ve got all these great runners and throwers in field events, it shows how competitive track in general is in our region.”

Smiles and Tears

Latherow’s emotions ran the gamut.

A few seconds after she won, she displayed her megawatt smile and gleefully shot both index fingers skyward. A couple minutes later — tears coursing down her cheeks and hugs for parents, coaches and competitors.

“I’m just super-proud of myself and then just super-proud of all the other girls that finished (Friday),” said Latherow, who’s headed for Miami University. “I put in a lot of hard work to be here … and I’m so thankful of all my support I’ve been given through my family and my friends and especially my teammates.”

Ashland coach Kerri Thornburg was equally weepy over what Latherow did.

“I’ve been with her for a long time, since she was in junior high,” Thornburg said. “And, she’s like family.”

After one throw, Keown’s 104-0 led the field, while Latherow managed just a 90-9. Latherow’s second toss was actually the win-clincher at 107-5; she added a105-6 three throws later.

Five-year Love

Skaggs’ path to a pole vault title began as an eighth-grader. He went to a few middle school meets at first.

“Out of freshman year … that’s when I started taking (pole vault) really seriously,” Skaggs said. “At that point I was still playing basketball. My focus kind of shifted because I really took a love for it the moment I started jumping.

“I just loved it ever since; it’s been a great ride.”

Skaggs was fourth in 2019. He opened Friday by clearing 12 feet on his second try. He needed just one jump at 12-6 to clinch the win before an hour-long weather delay and two tries to make 13-0.

“I’ve met so many people, and everyone’s so supportive of each other,” Skaggs said. “I think it’s the most fun you can have on a track. It’s a thrill ride, pretty much. You just go up, you hang in the air and come back down.”

First Couple

Terrill and Boyd County junior Sophia Newsome saw no reason why they shouldn’t be crowned Mr. and Ms Middle Distance of Cannonsburg, Summit and Catlettsburg.

“I would think so,” Newsome said.

They may have a point. Terrill won the 800 by a little more three seconds over Corbin’s Sean Simons, and Newsome took second at the same distance, finishing just under two seconds behind Lincoln County’s Lucy Singleton.

Terrill’s strategy doesn’t change — leave everybody behind within 200 meters or so. Friday, he had a challenger.

“There was one kid that took off the first lap,” Terrill said. “ … This is my first state title; it feels great, but I wouldn’t be here without my coaches and teammates, for sure.”

Newsome, Lexie Sworski, Sami Govey and Ava Kazee finished fourth in the 4×800 relay. Terrill joined Gavin Brock, Grant Chaffin and Hudson Cox to take third in the same event.

Vikings Finale

Rowan County boys coach Stephen Cyrus and girls coach Shawn Thacker coached their final meet. Cyrus spent nine years, and Thacker logged seven (and 12 in cross country).

“The track program has grown,” Thacker said. “It needs someone to give it full attention.”

Cyrus remembers how the program began — and begging students to try track.

“We started out with bubblegum in the hallway,” Cyrus said after the 2A, Region 6 meet. “We feel really good about where we’re leaving the program.”

You know Thacker better as the Vikings’ boys basketball coach — a job he’s keeping. He remembers cross country’s beginnings.

“I didn’t have any runners the first year — none, zero,” Thacker said. “None of the kids knew me. I couldn’t talk any of them into running.”

Thacker’s plans include spending more with his grandson, Mason, and traveling. What’s almost as important: being part of the track coaching fraternity.

“All these track coaches accept me now,” Thacker said. “Before, I was just a basketball coach out here.”

For full meet results, visit

Read More: The gold standard: Multiple area athletes win Class 2A state track titles |

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