Jefferson Boys Hit the Four-Peat in Winning AAA Title

Jefferson Celebrates its Fourth Straight AAA Title - Photo by Rollie Jacobs


The Jefferson boys’ team came into the West Virginia High School Track & Field Championships with high goals and high expectations.  They did not disappoint.   Jefferson brought home their fourth straight AAA championship on Saturday, defeating their game second place rival Cabell Midland 121 to 78.  As in past years, Jefferson relied on depth spread across multiple disciplines to secure the victory.

Dante' Price Anchored Jefferson's Victory in the 4x200 Relay - photo by Rollie Jacobs

Jefferson was led by AAA boys high point scorer Dante’ Price.  Price racked up victories in the 100 (10.74 seconds after a 10.65 in the prelims), 200 (22.92) and 400 (49.02) and ran the anchor leg on Jefferson’s first place 4x200 Relay squad to contribute 32.5 points on the day.   Hurdler Warren Gray contributed an impressive win in the 300m Hurdles (38.74) to go with a second place finish (14.82) to Cabell Midland’s Nate Moore (14.65) in the 110 m Hurdles.  Gray later added an additional 0.25 points to finish the day with 18.25 points as Jefferson scored a surprise sixth place in the Shuttle Hurdle Relay.

Joining Price and Gray in scoring victories were Jefferson’s two superb jumpers.  Jordan Hardiman cleared 6’8” in the High Jump to notch the win while Martinez Grant soared 20’6 1/2” in the Long Jump to earn his Gold Medal.   

Great Rivals, Great Respect: (L to R) Jefferson's Jackson Jacobs, Andrew Milliron and Ryan Graf and Cabell Midland's Avery Campbell and Jacob Burcham Cool Down after Friday's 3200

In the Distance events, Cabell Midland’s outstanding runner Jacob Burcham was expected to sweep.  Burcham led his team to victory in the 4x800 in a new State Meet Record time of 7:49.84 followed by a fast Jefferson squad who outpaced rival Hedgesville by 1.5 seconds 8:05.59 to 8:07.09.  In the 3200 later that evening, Burcham raced away from George Washington’s Matthew Brafford (9:21.71) to win in 9:08.34.  Jefferson’s Ryan Graf and Andrew Milliron scored significant points in finishing in the next two spots in 9:26.50 and 9:28.05 respectively.  Running on a bad ankle, Cabell Midland’s Avery Campbell finished fifth in giving Cabell the lead over Jefferson 32 points to 29 at the close of the first day.

The turning point may have come in the first distance event of day two in the 1600.  As expected, it was Jacob Burcham taking the field out strong.  In spite of the fast pace, Jefferson’s Milliron stayed close to Burcham and teammate Graf raced ahead of Brafford to finish 2-3 in the race.  With no other Cabell Midland runners able to score, Hardiman’s High Jump victory being sealed and multiple sprint events ahead, Jefferson pulled ahead and did not look back.  In the end, Jefferson posted a 43 point victory over an excellent Cabell Midland squad.  Parkersburg (43 points), Hedgesville (35) and Greenbrier East (26) rounded out the top five teams.

Point Pleasant's Calen Riffle Pulls off the Upset in the 800 over Cabell Midland's Brian Lawhon (center) and Jacob Burcham (right)

Other significant highlights of the meet included perhaps the best 800m race in state history.  In a major upset, Point Pleasant’s Caleb Riffle out sprinted heavily favored Jacob Burcham to grab first place in a blazing 1:54.98.  Cabell Midland’s Brian Lawhon narrowly edged teammate Burcham for second followed by another Cabell Midland athlete, Mason Dino.   Overall the race had nine runners post times under 2:00 flat, a state first.  In the Pole Vault, Capitol freshman Tristan Slater soared to 14’6” to defeat his nearest rival, Wheeling Park’s Chase Bonar by 1 ½ feet. 

Overall highlights on the day included:

  • 100 Meter Dash - Dante Price (Jefferson) 10.65; Dante Price (Jefferson) 10.74
  • 110 Meter Hurdles - Nate Moore (Cabell Midland) 14.65
  • 1,600 Meter Run - Jacob Burcham (Cabell Midland) 4:13.33; Andrew Milliron  (Jefferson)   4:17.86; Ryan Graf (Jefferson) 4:21.27; Matthew Brafford (George
  • Washington) 4:24.73
  • 300 Meter Hurdles - Warren Gray (Jefferson) 38.74
  • 3,200 Meter Run - Jacob Burcham (Cabell Midland) 9:08.34; Matthew Brafford  (George Washington) 9:21.71; Ryan Graf (Jefferson) 9:26.50; Andrew Milliron (Jefferson) 9:28.05; Avery Campbell (Cabell Midland) 9:37.02; Andy Paladino (University High) 9:39.10
  • 400 Meter Dash - Dante Price (Jefferson) 49.02
  • 4x200 Meter Relay - Jefferson 1:29.74
  • 4x800 Meter Relay - Cabell Midland 7:49.84; Jefferson 8:05.59; Hedgesville 8:07.09
  • 800 Meter Run - Caleb Riffle (Point Pleasant) 1:54.98; Brian Lawhon (Cabell Midland) 1:55.31; Jacob Burcham (Cabell Midland) 1:55.46; Mason Dino (Cabell Midland) 1:57.79; Preston Sheldon (Winfield) 1:57.95
  • Discus - Levi Moreland (Hampshire) 160-5; Dylan Rippeto (Parkersburg South) 156-10
  • High Jump - Jordan Hardiman (Jefferson) 6-8; Trey Cochran (Greenbrier East) 6-6
  • Pole Vault - Tristan Slater (Capital) 14-6
  • Shot Put - Houstin Syverston (Shady Spring High School) 53-9.5

In the end, a deep and diversely talented Jefferson squad just had too much speed and strength for the talented Cabell Midland team and the rest of the state to overcome.  In winning their fourth straight title, Jefferson became the first team to do so since Cabell Midland did so from 1996-1999.  No doubt, Jefferson will be fired up to go for “one for the thumb”, a fifth straight title, next year.  If they do so, they will be the first team to do so since the division into classification in 1962. 

In any case, the West Virginia high school track and field landscape will be very different next year with the graduation of two athletes who have been dominant in their high school careers; Dante’ Price and Jacob Burcham.   Who will step up to replace them?  Will Jefferson be able to replace the great talent graduating this year and have enough stay ahead of the rest of the state to grab a fifth straight title?  I’m looking forward to the next 12 months to find out.