TOP DOG — Blake Woody, a senior, placed first in the 110-hurdles at the WMAC Championship meet and will likely compete in the Class 3A Western Regional meet May 12.

Blake Woody didn’t give track a shot until his junior year.

He was a football player, first and foremost, but when he qualified for the regional meet during his first track season, he had an epiphany, of sorts.

“It told me ‘Wow, I’m actually kind of good at this and I can be even better next year,’” he said.

Woody’s second season has, indeed, been just as successful as his first.

He’s most likely headed back to the Class 3A Western Regional meet May 12 in Watauga after placing first in the 110-hurdles at the WMAC Championship meet earlier this month. There’s a good chance he’ll also qualify for the regional meet in the triple jump and 300-hurdles, though Tuscola head coach J.T. Postell said he’ll probably use him in just the triple jump and 110-hurdles.

It’s anticipated that Woody will join seven of his teammates at the regional level: Juan Sanchez, Joseph Hernandez and Hunter Murphy are set to qualify in discus, while Sam Messer is in a good position to compete in the 200- and 400-dash.

Messer is also a member of the 4x200-relay team along with Nick Cole, Trevor Cole and Braden Hale. Tuscola sent all of its relay teams – including the 4x200 – to the state meet last season.

The official list of regional qualifiers was expected to be released sometime yesterday, but was not available at press time.

Postell wasn’t at all shocked that Moody placed first in the WMAC in 110-hurdles, considering the senior’s success last season. He was, however, impressed with the blossoming of Murphy, a freshman phenom, of sorts.

“It’s been a big surprise for us that he’s been able to excel this early in his high school career,” said the coach.

Once Postell receives the official list of regional qualifiers, he’s going to buckle down and “focus on having a good week of practice to prepare” for the regional meet. He’s expecting Messer (in the 400-dash), Juan Sanchez (in discus) and Woody (in 110-hurdles) to make a legitimate run at qualifying for the Class 3A Championships, which will be held at N.C. A&T May 18.

So what does Moody – still a relative newcomer to track and field – believe is the key to making an appearance at states in his final high school season?

“I have to set goals for myself,” he said. “I always aim for a lower time than my previous meet. If I can do that at regionals, I’ll be in good shape.”

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