The Fort Campbell Falcons boy’s track team succeeded in their drive for a championship Saturday at the Class 1-A Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Meet at the University of Louisville.
The Falcons earned 78 points to clinch the title.
Senior Khalil Maynard received the Class 1-A National Guard Brightest Leadership Award after earning two individual KHSAA state championships. He also helped the team win the state title for the 4X400-meter relay.
“I still get chills,” Maynard said about winning. “It’s just great knowing I get to graduate a champion not just individually, but collectively as a team.”
Maynard won the 300-meter hurdles in 38.37 seconds, which set a new state record. He also earned the state title for the 110-meter hurdles – running it in 14.77 seconds.
“I want to make sure I set the bar for our returning [hurdle athletes] to make sure they know what they need to work towards,” he said. “They all have the same potential that I have.”
Maynard and senior Jordan Gibbs-Francis each were honored as National Elites, silver standard.
Gibbs-Francis placed first in the 4X400-meter dash – running it in 48.57 seconds.
“It was kind of bittersweet because on one hand, I’m at the top and I get to win a lot,” said Gibbs-Francis about competing this year. “But I’m also one of those people who like running with competition, so it’s not as fun for me being at the top.”
Junior Nighgell Davidson, who Head Coach Tavis Kennedy said lacked motivation last year, placed first with his teammates, Nygell Bradley, Maynard and Gibb-Francis, in the 4X400-meter relay. Their time was 3:26.81.
“Compared to last season, I’ve improved a lot thanks to my coaches,” Davidson said. “My work ethic last year was completely terrible.
“I was just lazy and [the coaches] broke my habit of being lazy and made me a better athlete.”
Davidson has already made plans to improve his skills and beat Maynard’s record next season.
“I have to look up to him,” he said. “I already told him I was going to try to beat his records, he said he was fine with that.”
The last year the Falcons brought home a state championship was in 2010. In 2012, they were the runner-up.
“When you’re facing a team like Murray [High School], that’s going to push you each and every time, you have no choice but to get better,” said Kennedy.
Thirty-four Fort Campbell High School athletes competed this year at the state meet. Kennedy said they accomplished state records this year because their goal was not always about winning.
“[We were] not trying to go out and win every event, but [we were] actually trying to at least place second, third fourth in each event...,” he said. “If we could do that, then we could be successful in the end.”
The Lady Falcons placed sixth at state by garnering 30 points. The team is making steady improvements in their performances. In 2011, they didn’t receive any points at the state meet and last year they placed 15th.
“The girls accepted it, I had some of them that were upset,” said Kennedy. “But even though the boys won it, the girls felt like they won it, too, because we act like a Family.”
For the Lady Falcons, sophomore Nia Gibbs-Francis placed highest in any event for the team by taking second in the high jump, with a leap of 5-feet, 6 inches.
In the 400-meter dash, Skylar Standokes earned a fourth-place finish with a run of 1:00.37.
Standokes also helped teammates Jessicka Tucker, Mercedes Nicholson and Kelsi Avana place fourth in the 4X100-meter relay in 51.19 seconds.
Tucker and Avana also placed fourth in the 4X200-meter relay, along with Jameelah Shamburger and Kasha Bryant. Their time was 1:48.24.
Kennedy considers not only himself, but his athletes and the staff to be another working force for the team’s improvements.
“In the end, it does look like it’s just me,” he said. “But it’s everybody putting forth that effort to make us better.”
To help the team’s morale, Kennedy handed out poetry, written by an unknown author, to each athlete that gave them a vision for their present moment:
“…Often the goal is nearer than, it seems to a faint and faltering man, often the struggler has given up, when he might have captured the victor’s cup, and he learned too late when the night slipped down, how close he was to the golden crown…”
“I’ll definitely be back next year to watch,” said Maynard. “I can’t wait to be able to come back and watch them put the banner up.”
KHSAA Class 1-A State Track and Field Meet, Louisville
Boys – first place
1st – Khalil Maynard; 14.77 seconds
4th – Nighgell Davidson; 16.15
2nd – Otto Arron, Jonathan Jethroe, Nygell Bradley, Khalil Maynard; 44.21
1st – Jordan Gibbs-Francis; 48.57
1st – Khalil Maynard; 38.37
3rd – Jordan Gibbs-Francis; 22.15
1st – Nighgell Davidson, Nygell Bradley, Khalil Maynard, Jordan Gibbs-Francis; 3:26.81
2nd – David Sahms; 13-06.00
Girls – 6th place
4th – Jessicka Tucker, Jameelah Shamburger, Kasha Bryant, Kelsi Avana; 1:48.24
4th – Jessicka Tucker, Mercedes Nicholson, Skylar Standokes, Kelsi Avana; 51.19
4th – Skylar Standokes; 1:00.37
2nd – Nia Gibbs-Francis, 5-06.00