The SCISA state track and field championships set for Saturday will be held at Porter-Gaud for the first time since 2000.
Porter-Gaud coach Larry Salley was in his first year at the school and admits times have changed.
“They didn’t use fully automatic timing or have meet results on the Internet back then,” Salley said. “The new track is an amazing facility, and our grounds staff is incredible. We’ve had nothing but rave reviews about meets we’ve hosted this season. But this is a lot bigger stage, and we are committed to doing a good enough job as hosts that we won’t have to wait another dozen years for the next time.”
Twelve years ago, the Cyclones didn’t have fully automated timing. They also didn’t have Brent Demarest and Layne Mather. They should be the stars of the show as the Cyclones defend their state title. Demarest, a sophomore, and Mather, a senior, will chase state records and a place in the Cyclones’ record book.
Demarest’s best event is the 3,200 meters. He has the top time in the state, regardless of classification, at 9 minutes, 32.93 seconds, and seems like a lock to win the event.
He will also compete in the 1,600 and 800, and his toughest competition will be his teammate Mather.
Demarest is completing a big running season. He was The Post and Courier’s cross country runner of the year.
“Ever since Brent won runner of the year in cross country, the spotlight has been on him,” Salley said. “He has handled it well, earning All-American status in the aquathon (run-swim) and qualifying for indoor nationals.”
Mather will run in the 800, 1,600, 4x400 relay and the 4x800 relay. His time of 4:27.29 in the 1,600 is second fastest in the Lowcountry.
“Layne played baseball his freshman year, so it’s only his third track season,” Salley said. “But he has been a huge part of our success in that time period. Last year, he put all his personal goals aside to max out points for the team and helped us win our first championship in 10 years. This season, we’re blessed to have enough depth for him to hopefully chase some state records. He already holds our school records in the 1,600, the 800 and as a member of four relay teams.”
There are numerous deep and talented teams this season, and Wilson Hall will give the Cyclones some stiff competition. Porter-Gaud is strong in the distance events, while Wilson Hall is stacked in the sprint events.
“Layne and Brent have gotten a lot of good press, but people forget that our boys team has a half-dozen guys who could be the top distance runner on almost any other SCISA team,” Salley said.
Seniors Bradley McClelland and Landon Sanford, juniors Cameron Kane and Alex Dahlstrom, and sophomore Brendan Ward were members of the Cyclones’ cross country team that won the state title. Their points will be important Saturday.
In the field events, Blake Barnett and David Salley will contend for titles in the throws and pole vault, respectively.
Twins Blake and Cole Shannon anchor the relay teams.
Follow Phil Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil.