The top story in the Ohio Valley Publishing area for the 2016-17 school year had a little touch of all of the previous four top-five honorees.
She was a state qualifier (No. 5) and ended up on the podium (No. 3) at the state track and field championships. She accomplished a handful of firsts (No. 4) in her prep career and she has signed to continue her athletic career at Marshall University, though she won’t be winning any Heisman awards over the next four or five years.
Point Pleasant senior Aislyn Hayman, however, did have one thing that nobody else in the OVP area could claim on her resume … a state championship.
In fact, she did so well in her prep finale that she actually came home with two championships — in a span of four hours on the same day.
Not a bad way to go out.
Hayman became the first female in Point Pleasant history to win two state championships in the same meet after conquering the Class AA field in both the shot put and discus finals during the 2017 WVSSAC track and field championships held at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston.
Hayman — a four-year state qualifier in both events during her career — finally came away with the only thing missing from her stellar list of prep accomplishments during Day 1 of the tournament.
Hayman — who entered as the favorite in both Class AA throwing events — was more than three feet better than the entire shot put field after posting a winning heave of 40 feet, 11.5 inches. Her closest competitor was Philip Barbour junior Kacey Neville, who finished the afternoon with a runner-up effort of 37 feet, 8 inches.
Following her first-ever state title in that 4 p.m. contest, Hayman had to turn around and compete two hours later in the discus final — an event that she was an easy favorite in by more than 20 feet.
Hayman cruised to a second state title after posting a final effort of 133 feet even in the discus. Neville was again the closest competitor in the Class AA discus final after posting a runner-up throw of 112 feet, 4 inches.
Hayman — who recorded throws over 140 feet at three separate meets this past spring — came up exactly seven feet short of the all-time Class AA state meet record held by Crystal Hipes of Winfield. Hipes set the current discus mark of 140 feet even back in 1993.
Hipes, coincidentally, also set the Class AA state shot put record (43-4) at that same championship 24 years ago.
Hayman’s triumphs led to the Lady Knights’ first track championships since Alea Hipes (shot put) and Mallory Nowlin (200m) each won gold at the 2008 Class AA finals nine years ago.
The dual titles also accounted for 20 of the team’s 26.5 points en route to finishing fifth in the final standings — the highest point total for the girls program since scoring 31 points during its last appearance at the double-AA level back in 2012.
The Lady Knights have scored at least one point at the state tournament for 14 consecutive years, and this weekend’s fifth place finish was the highest team placement at state since the current scoring streak started in 2004.
Hayman gave the PPHS track program a state champion for the fifth time in six years, as well as a second straight year overall. Hayman also recorded the longest throws of any of the state champions in either girls event held this past weekend.
Hayman — who has committed to MU for track and field — leaves Point Pleasant as the program’s record-holder in both throwing events. Hayman set the shot put mark (42-1.5) on April 14 at the Dick Dunlap Invitational in Winfield and also recorded the discus record (148-8) on May 1 at the All-Comers quad at PPHS.
The two state titles also gave Hayman a total of six podium finishes in eight chances during her career. For a second straight season, Hayman was also a dual-podium placer at the state meet.
Hayman’s better event has always been the discus, which reflects in her respective third, fourth and runner-up finishes at the triple-A state level during her first three years of high school. Hayman was also a Region 4 champion in the discus as a freshman, junior and again this past season.
Hayman, however, didn’t place in the Class AAA shot put final after respective finishes of ninth and seventh during here freshman and sophomore campaigns. Hayman was third in the shot put state final last year as a junior and just claimed her first Region 4 shot put championship this postseason.
Hayman — who carries a 3.8 unweighted grade-point average — will be majoring in Exercise Science at Marshall University.
Hayman, throughout her career, was responsible for 44 points in four state championships. The Lady Knights, coincidentally, scored 50.5 points collectively over that same four-year span.
Only freshman Sami Saunders — with a third place finish in the pole vault and a fifth place effort in the high jump this past spring — has scored state points (6.5) alongside Hayman since the spring of 2014.
It is, at minimum, the 14th consecutive school year in which a state champion has come from the OVP area in at least one varsity sport.
The Lady Knights currently have the longest scoring streak in the tri-county area at the state track and field meet.
This concludes the Top 5 sports stories from the OVP area for the 2016-17 school year. We’ll start working on a new batch of contenders for next year’s list in approximately six weeks when high school begins.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.