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Val's Day: Tilghman star wins Triple Crown, sets school best with 4th 100-meter title

Al Willman
The Paducah Sun
June 1, 2019
Used with permission.
 
LEXINGTON – Friday was Val’s day.

Valesha Watson, Paducah Tilghman’s star sprinter, took command of the track at the University of Kentucky in the Class 2A state track meet, winning her second-career triple crown – 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes.

Watson’s win in the 100 cemented her place atop the Lady Tornado history books, becoming the only women’s sprinter in school history to win four state championships in the event.

It was the second triple crown, she said, that was the toughest to accomplish. 

“The first time was easy, because I didn’t really know what a triple crown was,” said Watson, whose Lady Tornado were in third place with 62 points when the meet was suspended with one race remaining. “It was just me running. The second time, (I was) trying to prove myself and prove I could do it again. It was very hard.”

It was a near-photo-finish in the 400, with Watson’s 57.36-second clip barely edging out North Oldham’s Sarah Rankin, who ran a 57.39.

In the 200, she crossed the line in 25.08 seconds, which was .18 seconds faster than Boyle County’s Daneezia Patton. The 100 wasn’t much closer, either, with Watson’s 12.13-second finish coming .35 seconds faster than Lawrence County’s Halli Caudill.

“I was so nervous before I even started,” Watson said after completing her third state title defense in the 100. “I was so anxious. But, I did it. I think I did really good.”
 
The praise for Watson, with which Tilghman coach Randy Wyatt has been effusive all season, continued at the state meet.

“It meant everything,” he said. “She’s been the nucleus of our track team this year. You can’t ever put up the points she puts up week in and week out. When you lose that, that’s a big loss.”

Tilghman’s Flemons, Freeman star for state runner-up squad

Paducah Tilghman’s boys’ team, with 61 points, was set to finish as the state runners-up, 37 points behind Boyle County when the meet was halted with five heats – two for the girls’ and three for the boys – of the 4x400-meter relay left to run.

Still, though, it was the efforts of Jayden Freeman, who made four trips to the podium, and DaRoyce Flemons, who won the discus with a 165-foot, 3-inch throw, that put Tilghman in a position to finish well.

“It was a lot of dedication, practice and just coaches pushing me,” Flemons said, describing the keys to his success this season.

For Freeman, who was narrowly edged out of second place in the 200-meter by .004 of a second, not only is he happy with how things went Friday, but he’s also excited for what the future holds for Tilghman next season.

“I PRed (ran a personal record) in all of my events today,” Freeman said of his races in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as his split times in the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays. “It was a good day for me today. I’m actually proud of my team today. They’ve come a long way. Like, a long way.” 

Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019