TMSAA Track and Field State Championships Preview
There are two classes in the middle school State Championships track and field meet, the A and AA. Small school and Large schools respectively. But believe me, at this stage it is tough to discern which one has the more potent talent base because they seem so closely matched.
This meet requires the athletes to run in one of four sectional qualifiers to end up with a total of 16 athletes entering for each gender in that division. So, for example in the 100 meter dash, you'll see two heats for the girls A, two heats for the boys A, then two heats for the girls AA and two for the boys AA. The meet is held at Austin Peay University and if you haven't been there lately, they've recently completed renovations to their football/track stadium and it's really a nice spot to have a track meet!
With this many athletes participating, I'll try and pick a few of the highlights that you can expect to see at this meet. And again, with this many very young athletes competing, I can tell you that it is practically impossible to predict the outcome. There no doubt is excitement when you watch the Olympic track and field championships, or possibly the NCAAs, or any of the conference championships. But if you want to see some really exciting - and unpredictable - performances, come and watch this Middle School Championships! With middle school athletes participating in who knows how many sporting events and other activities, it's hard to know what one is capable of doing until one day on the track, they just jump out and surprise you! So, be prepared to be surprised.
In the meantime, based on their qualifying times, I'll try and point out a few of the events that might just be the ones to keep a close eye on Saturday at the Austin Peay track. Starting out with some field events, there's Bellevue's Serena Lee who is coming into the meet with a 5-4 leap. Serena placed second last year at this meet when she cleared 4-8 which tied her best of the season last year. This year, she's consistently cleared 5-0 until the West sectional where she better that by those four inches. Like I said before, you can expect to see some unusual performances with these middle school athletes!
The girls shot put looks to have three girls with marks over 34'. Grandview's Emalyn Casey has a 34-6 seed, Katie Riggs (Rogersville) and Robertsville's Jazmine Moore both made impressive throws of 35-10 to tie at the top seed coming into this meet. Any of the girls ranked in the top seven or so still have a chance to see the high end of the podium at the end of the day though as they all have talent.
Looking at some of the running events, one stands out as a fairly lopsided mark Having a 15.35 in the 100 hurdles is a very strong seed time and Tyra Nabors, an 8th grader ( Leadership) should be a shoe in to win unless... well, it's the hurdles you know! Picking a runner up to Tyra might just be a tough call since there are eight girls with times from 18.12 to 18.89! That's a tight setup for sure. Laci Johnson, Kaniya Floyd, Rosaly Del Rio, Cameraon Castleberry, Maggie Fronig, Kayla Winfield, Lovely Pinson, and Addie Stadler round out that list from top to bottom. I'm not even going to try and guess on this one!
The 1600 for the Class A girls has a young athlete that even though is just a seventh grader, I've seen run a few times the past couple of years. Dinah Winders has the fastest seed of 5:44.45 and is really poised to be the one to beat at this meet. Even though Shelby Knight (5:44.89) and Aliyah Williamson (4:45.49) have times close and will certainly be thinking of a win themselves, Dinah comes from a running family that, well, just have a tendency to get to the front and stay there! But I believe this will be a close race with a tight and small group up front and will come down to the last few meters before a title is tagged! This probably is one of the races that I am really looking forward to watching.
On the boys side, one mark that really stands out for me is Union City's Neil Brown who comes into this meet with a 140-07 mark in the Discus! That is a huge toss and at a state level meet, I'm really excited to see what he is capable of here. The high jump here also looks almost like a high school meet with guys at 6-0 and 5-8. That's Colby Goode with the top seed and Ahmaudd Sankey right there behind him. And really, there are nine guys coming in with 5-0 or higher marks, so this could really be a wide open event.
The guys long jump has a 19-6.5 top seed by Nor-marcus Jones, an 18-9.25 by Kendall Ducksworth, 18-7.5 by Caden Williams and 18-2 seed by Matrell Boyd to round out the top 4 guys all over the 18' mark. It really seems like these athletes are getting better and better each season!
Running down the seeds for the 100M dash we have three guys under 12 with Dante Prowell (11.56), Marius Steward (11.86), and Kendall Ducksworth (11.92). Then there is a handful of guys with marks under 12.30 and so this race is going to be a photo finish for sure and could be anyways for the taking. The same is to be said about the boys 200 also with 3 under 24 and almost the same names with Ariyon Paige just upping Kendall as the third under 24 seconds.
Obviously with these many good athletes both Division A relays are going to be fun to watch, especially with the seed times practically at the high school level times!
In the big school division, Division AA, it appears we're going to see some great field events as well with Evan Neal leading off the discuss with a 128-9 mark and Aaron Benson with a 45-5 in the shot. The girls shot is impressive as well with two girls over the 36 mark with Hope Anderson leading the way at 36-1.5 and Hallie DeArman just a very small margin behind in 36-0.5. Yep, only an inch behind. Should be interesting to see these two battle for the top of the podium.
Kind of similar to what we see in the girls hurdles for the A division, the boys AA hurdles has Skyy Craig of Ocoee Middle setting a blistering mark of 14.80 in the 110 hurdles. The 100M dash here is boasting a solid field with five guys under 12 seconds leading off this field. Javin Burke leads that group with a top seed of 11.36. Javon Davis comes next with 11.71, Jayleen Greenwood at 11.75, Parker McGill just behind at 11.7 and last of the sub 12's comes Kerry Hunt at 11.95. Folks, for a middle school race, this might just be a tough race to win for sure!
As much fun as the A class 1600 looks to be, the Class AA is going to be fast. Last year Sasha Neglia blistered the field in this race and it appears we might just see Maryville's Andie Marie Jones do the same in the girls race. Her 5:17.94 is almost ten seconds ahead of the next seed of 5:27.74 by Marilyn McCarthy of Siegel. The boys also has a couple of guys under 5, with Colby Freeman at 4:57.22 and Ryan Lovelace with the top seed of 4:52.42.
Needless to say, the middle school state championships this season seem to have some very impressive athletes coming out to display their talents. If you're in the Austin Peay area, and like track and field, come on out to watch these young athletes...
See you on the track,