Recap: Optimist Championship


Two of the Tennessee's top girls sprinters took the track Friday afternoon at the 2018 Optimist Championship hosted by Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. Cleveland senior Tiyanna Johnson and Arts & Sciences sophomore Alayah Dozier have grown accustomed to photo finishes in the 100 and 200, and they didn't disappoint on Friday.

Johnson edged Dozier in the 100 by just 0.04 seconds, running a personal best 12.15 seconds.  Dozier got revenge later, however, in the 200 with a time of 25.51, beating Johnson's time of 25.69.  The two have developed a friendly rivalry, having run against each other a number of times both indoor and outdoor, something that Johnson says helps to keep her motivated.

While the two speedsters might have had most dramatic races of the day, easily the best performance came from Brentwood's Katherine Coffey in the discus and shot put.  Coffey's toss of 40' 6.5" in the shot put eclipses the top mark in the state this season by six inches and her 125' 0.5" launch of the discus was nearly nine feet further anyone else. 

Other standout girls' performances came from McMinn County's Paige Manney and GPS's Carley Braman.  Manney - a sophomore - won the long jump with a jump of 16'1" and the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.84.  She also finished second in the high jump, clearing five feet, although that is below her personal best of 5'4".  Braman swept the 800 and 1600 with times of 2:25 and 5:24, respectively.  Braman stayed close to the leaders until the final hundred meters in both races, and then used a tremendous kick to take control and cruise to victory.

On the boys' side, Cleveland senior Keegan Jones continued to show off the speed that he will use to play football for the Navy Midshipmen next fall.  Jones smoked the field in both the 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.97), setting personal bests in both.  He also showed why the Midshipmen are doing all they can to convince him to be a two-sport star.

"They're trying to get me to run track, too, but that's a lot of commitment," Jones said. "Today was the definitely the best I've felt this year.  We're about halfway through the season and I'm starting to feel good about where I am." 

Jones just missed out on winning the long jump as well, losing by an inch and a half to McCallie's Hakim McMorris, who won with a jump of 22' 10.5".  McMorris also won the high jump at 6'4".

The 110-meter hurdles featured the state's three fastest times this season with Cleveland teammates Benjedi Casseus and Eric Parker and Arts and Sciences' Brevin Sims.  Parker won with a blazing 14.10 to take over the new fastest time from his teammate, while Sims finished second with a 14.18 and Casseus came in third at 14.82.

While they may not have had many athletes that won multiple events, both McCallie and Baylor's girls proved that team depth is the key to winning as a team in what is largely seen as an individual sport.  Both teams destroyed the rest of the field, which consisted of nine boys' teams and ten girls' teams.  McCallie scored 214 points, which was over 100 more than second-place Baylor's 113.  The Lady Red Raiders scored 191 points, while host GPS finished a distant second with 119.

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