FREDERICKTOWN — Eight different high schools will be represented in this year’s Mount Vernon News SpecTrackular, with each of the athletes vying for the title of most valuable competitor.

Based on results through April 27, the top-eight area competitors in each event were invited to participate in the 40th SpecTrackular. Mount Vernon leads the way with 53 total entrants, 26 boys and 27 girls, with Fredericktown coming in with 23 boys and 22 girls (45). Highland has an even split at 18 in each gender and it ties Northridge with 36 total, while the Vikings have 19 boys and 17 girls. East Knox has 18 boys and 10 girls for 28 total. Danville’s nine girls powers it to 13 overall and Utica has seven boys and four girls.

Yellow Jacket Cory Berg will come into the night with the biggest target on his back as the reigning Most Valuable Competitor. He won the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 38.51 seconds and cruised to a win in the high jump, clearing 6-feet-5. He also snared the bronze in the 100 (11.23). In the 200, he turned in a time of 22.92 to earn second and finish off his night.

This year, Berg will be looking to do more of the same, competing in all four of the same events. He is the top qualifier for the 300 hurdles, second in both the high jump and 200 and third in the 100.

The girls will see a new Most Valuable Competitor on Friday. Northridge’s Olivia Carpenter took the crown last year with 35 points. She set a new meet record in the 300 hurdles, won the 100 hurdles and was the anchor on the Vikings’ winning 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams. With Carpenter graduated, the door is open for this year’s girls to vie for the top spot.

East Knox’s Emily Opfer may have a good shot at making a run to the girls’ Most Valuable Competitor. She leads the standings in the high jump (4-10), 300 hurdles (50.24) and 200 (27.58).

With one record broken and one tied last year, this year may have more history. Six season bests are better than the record heading into the SpecTrackular. Highland’s Jack Weaver (10.74) and Brock Veley (10.75) have both posted better times in the 100 than the old record of 10.8. Mount Vernon’s Sam Bethea’s 110 hurdles time of 14.28 this year is better than the record at 14.5. Berg had a best of 38.31 in the 300 hurdles this year and that would be a time to beat the old record of 39.0. Weaver (22.34), Berg (22.37) and Veley (22.52) are all close to the 200 record at 22.1.

In relays, the Fredericktown boys 4×800 team’s best time of 8:16.24 would beat the old record, which stands at 8:19.6. Highland’s boy sprinters have combined to turn in a time of 43.92 this year. Should they match that time Friday, they would beat the old record of 44.1.

East Knox’s Bryan Hockenberry is hoping for a great day in the throwing events, as he leads the shot put by more than two feet and the discus by nearly five feet. Makayla Brown (Danville) stands atop the girls’ discus standings by almost five feet. In another field event, Trojan Chloe Goulter has a commanding lead in the long jump by more than a foot.

A bulk of Fredericktown’s boys’ entries come in the distance events, where the Freddies have four runners in the 1,600 and five in the 3,200.

The 400-meter dash for both boys and girls could turn into a photo finish. For all eight boys, the margin between the fastest and slowest times is only 3.58 seconds, while the margin between the eight girls in the race is only 2.8 seconds. There is also a narrow margin in the girls’ 200, where the difference between the top time and eighth time is only 1.16 seconds.

Centerburg’s girls have a stranglehold on the 4×800 standings, leading the pack by almost eight seconds. The final event of the night, the boys’ 4×400, is the only relay where all eight schools will be represented.

The 40th-annual SpecTrackular is set to kick off with field events at 4:30 p.m. at Fredericktown High School. The running events will begin at 5:45 p.m.


Erick Starkey: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mvnstarkey