Whale Branch girls claim first 1A track title, boys finish 9th
By Wes Kerr
A year of athletic excellence at Whale Branch Early College High School has ended with a state championship.
Fueled by Kynew Barnwell’s trio of top-two finishes including a victory in the 400m hurdles, the Whale Branch girls dominated their competition Thursday at Lower Richland High School to claim the SCHSL Class 1A track and field title. The Warriors put up a whopping 118 points, crushing runner-up Southside Christian (79 pts) and third-place St. John’s (76 pts)
For her final act as a Whale Branch Warrior, Barnwell delivered a day to remember, taking the 400-meter hurdles with a blazing time of 1:05.41. The basketball star found the podium two more times, including a second-place finish in the long jump (16-2).
The Warriors notched a massive 1-2 finish in the 100m hurdles, as sophomore Talaijah Bartley took the top spot (15.52) for the second straight year, while Barnwell was right behind in second place (15.84). Whale Branch’s third and final gold medal came in the 4x100m relay (48.42), besting runner-up Estill by nearly two seconds.
Sophomore sensation Destiny Pryor shined in the sprint events, taking second in both the 100m (12.38) and 200m (26.03). Kaylyn Caldwell earned a bronze in the long jump (16-0), freshman Grace Bing took third in the 400m hurdles (1:14.55), and Erin Rivers placed third in the discus (99-4).
The Warriors grabbed some more valuable points in the relay events, as both the 4×400 (4:26.97) and 4×800 (11:47.64) teams finished third. Freshman Alani Crawford impressed in the 3200m, running a 13:32.66 to place fourth.
Xavier Chaplin excelled in the boys’ meet, taking silver in the shot put (46-9) and fifth in the discus (123- 1). Keith Chisholm placed fifth in the 110m hurdles with a time of 16.11 to help the Warriors to a ninth-place finish (24 pts). Southside Christian won the title with 127 points, and Calhoun County was second with 91.