CHARLESTON - When Errin Baynes woke up Saturday morning before the West Virginia State Track and Field Championships, he wasn't even sure if he would compete.
When he made up his mind to put on the Wheeling Park uniform for the final time, all it took was one jump to leave the Patriots faithful and the Laidley Field crowd with one last thrilling performance.
On his first attempt in the long jump, Baynes jumped 22 feet, 3.5 inches to win the state title and break a 32-year-old school record in the process.
He then moved over to the high jump area and jumped 6-8, winning his third straight first-place medal.
"Coming into this meet, I had no idea what I was going to be able to do," said Baynes, who competed in just his third event of the season because of an ailing knee. "Everything was going to be a game-time decision. I was going to warm up first and play it by ear. Through the long jumps I felt pretty good."
After the prelims, Baynes didn't even attempt to jump in the finals. He was pretty confident his distance would hold up. Princeton's Purcell Lash came in second with a jump of 21-4 3/4.
The jump broke the school record of 22-1 1/2 recorded by Tony Long in 1980.
"I didn't know that, wow," an amazed Baynes said. "I am really happy about that. I wasn't expecting to jump that. I didn't have steps and I started by a pylon on the runway. I was happy when I heard 22 and that put a big smile on my face.
"I felt really confident in my 22-3 jump and if someone had beat it, I would have been happy to congratulate them. I thought it would be enough though and I wanted to get ready for the high jump."
After that performance, the high jump almost seemed like a formality. Mainly because it was.
Baynes jumped 6-8 with ease. Parkersburg South's Garrett Lynch and Wheeling Park teammate Kody Geisel couldn't make the leap.
Baynes tried to go for 7 feet, even getting the Laidley Field crowd clapping in unison when his attempt was announced, but came up just shy.
"I was definitely going for 7 and I thought I could get that," Baynes said. "Unfortunately you only get three attempts. The smallest adjustment or smallest error in your approach can make a big difference. I think if I had one more attempt I could have got it."
Baynes is unsure if he will attempt to compete in the national tournament in Greensboro, N.C. this summer, meaning the next time he puts on a track singlet, it will likely say USC on it.
"This whole thing has been really humbling," Baynes said. "I never expected so much success with this event and this sport. Three times state champ, you don't hear that very often and I am just honored to have done that."
Baynes wasn't the only repeat winner from last season as Valley's Casey Pingley repeated as champion in the Class A 100-meter dash with an 11.21, just edging out Fayetteville's Jonathan Gore by less than half a second.
Pingley then took the 200 with a little bit more breathing room, running a 22.94.
"That was the goal, to get both the wins," Pingley said. "We have been training a lot harder lately because we knew we had to step up to win.
"I had no idea I won the 100. I thought he got me. He leaned a little bit more than I did. I was pretty nervous going into the 100 so that helped me get some more confidence going into the 200."
After two straight seasons of finishing runnerup in the Class AA pole vault, Tyler Consolidated's Hunter LeMasters finally broke through.
LeMasters jumped 13-6 to easily walk away with the crown in his junior season.
"This means a lot to me, it's like the greatest feeling ever," LeMasters said. "After I came down from 13-6, I knew I had it. It's a whole foot better than last year and I was pretty confident in that number again."
As excited as he was, LeMasters quickly had to turn into coach-cheerleader as his twin sister, Haylea, took her attempt at bringing another pole vault title into the LeMasters household.
"I tell her to keep running fast, jump high and hold onto that pole. Give it your all," Hunter said. "I help her out all the time and we stay after practice to work on it constantly."
Unfortunately, Haylea finished fourth but still placed and the duo had a bright future ahead as the Silver Knights move down to Class A next season.
The lone girls' winner from the Ohio Valley came in the form of Weirton Madonna's Taylor Pavan in the discus.
Pavan was disappointed in her performance last season, finishing sixth place after being runnerup as a freshman.
What a difference a year makes.
"Last year wasn't a good year and I really thought I bounced back," Pavan said. "This year I knew I had something to work for and I told myself 'I have this.' I knew I had the ability for success and I knew I had to work hard.
"I really set my mind to it and I was able to do it."
Pavan threw 108-9, a personal record, to outdistance the 105 thrown bv St. Marys Audra Clark.
"A lot of people thought I was going to win and that made me a little nervous," Pavan said. "I tried not to let it get to me and I just threw and did what made me happy. I was pleased with my throws."
The Magnolia boys came into the day with the lead in Class AA but couldn't hang on and win a second straight title. The Blue Eagles finished third behind winner Ritchie County and Point Pleasant.
Jefferson dominated the Class AAA field and Doddridge County won in Class A.
Morgantown (AAA), Berkeley Springs (AA) and Doddridge County (A) were the girls' winners.