Tigers finish 2nd at Class 3A, Region 1 meet

TYLER DIXON | KENTUCKY NEW ERA

Christian County's Autumn Bell is hugged by her father Tom Bell after she qualified for the state championship in the 200-meter dash Tuesday at Henderson County High School.

Hopkinsville's hopes at a trophy took a hit early Tuesday when junior sprinter Xavier Bussell went down with an injury, but it's a next man up mentality for the Tigers as they persevered and finished runner-up at the Class AAA, Region 1 Meet at Henderson County High School.

HHS coach Fred Sowerby said he wouldn't have believed someone if they told him they'd still win a trophy without Bussell as he's been one of the leading points producers for the Tigers this season.

"He was a key part of what we do and it was kind of hard going without him," Sowerby said. "We figured if we can get him a little more healthy, he'll be able to go to state with us."

One of the players that stepped up in Bussell's absence was JeVon Leavell.

Leavell finished first in the 100-meter dash, first in the 200-meter dash and was a member of two Hoptown relay teams that grabbed first-place finishes.

The Tiger junior said he was surprised he qualified in all four events.

"I expected one of my brothers, Xavier Bussell, to be there with me," he said.

Leavell said the weather was perfect Tuesday and he couldn't have asked for anything better, but it didn't look that way when the day started.

"When I woke up this morning, it was kind of dark and rainy looking," he said. "I wasn't thinking it was going to be too good then."

Despite the year he's had, Leavell has kept his head up and did his best in everything he's done as Leavell lost his mother earlier this school year.

When asked what keeps him going, he didn't hesitate.

"Knowing that my mom is smiling down on me," he said. "She wants me to work hard, perform my best in all I do."

Chase Atkins finished fourth in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races and didn't qualify automatically for state, but he still has a chance as the next top 10 finishers advance.

Keane Mumford advanced in the shot put as he finished in second. He also added a third place in the discus.

On the girls' side, Yogi McKnight finished second in the long jump and triple jump but grabbed a victory in the 400-meter run to advance to state in three events to finish as the top Lady Tiger.

Sowerby said there's a simple plan for the next week and a half.

"We're going to rest up, get healthy and we're going to try to fine tune so we can compete at the state level," he said. "I just don't want to go up there, I want to go up there and bring home some hardware."

For Christian County, Autumn Bell finished second in the 200-meter dash to qualify.

Bell said it felt good to qualify for state as an individual as she's only been on relays in the past.

Tom Bell, Autumn's father, was the first to congratulate her on the sideline.

"It makes me feel good to make them proud," she said. "I told them at the beginning of the season that I was going to make it in the 200."

Fellow Colonel Ethan Dooley qualified in two events as he won the 110-meter hurdles and then finished second in the 300-meter hurdles.

K'Ron Sherald took second in the 400-meter dash to also qualify.

Christian County still has several opportunities to qualify as the top times come in from around the state.

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