The Bryan Station High School track team has transformed into a force over the past few years. And heading into Saturday’s state meet at the University of Kentucky, both the boys’ and girls’ squads look poised to again make noise in Class 3A.
Led by a pair of juniors who have already tasted success as underclassmen, the Defenders’ girls are seeking their third consecutive state championship while the boys hope to take top honors one year after finishing as runner-up behind Henry Clay.
Isaiah McCall and Brooke Raglin turned heads last year as sophomores during the Defenders’ postseason run. McCall took home state titles in the boys’ 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Raglin anchored the girls’ first-place 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relay teams and finished second in both of her individual races, the 100 and 200. Raglin was edged in both sprints by North Hardin’s Kianna Gray, who set state records in the 100, 200 and 400 for the Trojans and has spent this year starring as a freshman for the University of Kentucky.
Last year’s success has carried over for both McCall and Raglin. McCall owns the state’s top time this season in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, and Raglin has the fastest 100-meter dash. However, both have faced adversity during the stretch run. McCall has struggled with his technique, while Raglin has spent the last two months battling back from a pulled hamstring.
McCall offered a mixed reaction when asked to assess his season at the 6th Region meet at Tates Creek on May 13.
“The year’s gone pretty well, but not quite how I expected,” he said. “I expected a superstar season. I was going for state records in everything … but my form fell apart from sophomore year, it’s kind of been all over the place. It’s been disappointing but I’m really working on it.”
We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year, but we can do it. There’s a real drive for us to win state this year. We know a lot of people are out to beat us and we’ve got a target on our backs, so we’ve just got to work hard to make sure no one does.
Brooke Raglin, Bryan Station sprinter
The work seemed to pay off at the regional meet where McCall dominated both of his hurdles events. He won the 110 with a time of 14.20 seconds — besting his 2015 state-title time of 14.80 — and the 300 with a time of 38.50, just off the pace of last year’s winning time.
Bryan Station Coach Kathy Broadnax, a native of Australia who holds the discus record at Eastern Kentucky University, didn’t seem to share McCall’s mixed evaluation of his year.
“The one word I would use for Isaiah is ‘phenomenal,’” she said. “It’s funny to hear he’s disappointed, because I’m anything but disappointed in what he’s been doing. He worked so hard in the offseason in the weight room getting strong, pushing really hard through all of that tough conditioning and its really paying off now.”
Broadnax said she has been impressed by McCall’s humility and his ability to be a team leader despite not being especially vocal.
“He’s very softly spoken. He doesn’t talk or brag about his success, even though I love to brag on him,” she said. “Track is very individual, but Isaiah has a great relationship with his teammates and he helps to motivate them. A lot of them look up to him. He plays that leadership role without being very open about it. It’s just fallen on him and he’s done great with it.”
Broadnax said Raglin is also modest when it comes to her success.
“Brooke’s very quiet but she’s very self-driven,” she said. “She loves to win. … She’s not very cocky and doesn’t talk about her winning, but it means so much to her.”
Raglin pulled a hamstring two months ago during the indoor track season, and the 6th Region meet was her first time racing since the injury. She won the 100 with a time of 12.10 seconds, but was nearly disqualified. When a KHSAA official told her the two-toned headband she wore in the race violated the rule that headbands must be one color only, she turned and disappeared into the stands, clearly dejected.
But after Broadnax had a spirited discussion with the official, Raglin was only given a warning and her first-place finish stood. Had she been disqualified, she wouldn’t have been able to race the 100 at the state meet.
“After being injured and then coming back, that was her first race back and we knew it was going to be a turning point in her season,” Broadnax said. “Her reaction there I think wasn’t just the thought of not being able to run at state. I think it was the thought of ‘I’ve worked so hard to get back here and now I’m not going to be able to run?’ But luckily they just gave her a warning.”
Raglin said she wasn’t surprised to see Broadnax defend her after the race.
“That’s just like her,” Raglin said. “It feels awesome to have a coach that has your back. We can always depend on her and that’s a great feeling.”
With Raglin and McCall leading the way, the Defenders are ready to add more hardware to the trophy case Saturday.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year, but we can do it,” Raglin said. “There’s a real drive for us to win state this year. We know a lot of people are out to beat us and we’ve got a target on our backs, so we’ve just got to work hard to make sure no one does.”
KHSAA State Track and Field Championships
When: Class A: 9 a.m.; Class 3A: 4:30 p.m.
Where: UK Outdoor Track and Field Complex
Tickets: $10 per session