2016 TN State Track & Field Championships
Five days of intense track and field in the state of Tennessee! That's what we expect when we think about the state championships and that's exactly what we saw this week. In a very short review of the last two days in the championships, I'll try and run through some highlights. Believe me, I will miss talking about someone that posted a remarkable performance but by no means will it be intentional - there are a lot of events and I did not get to see everything! Before starting into the meet review, I do want to make a huge shout out to Ed "Jabbo" Hessey who retired from officiating the state track and field meet. Jabbo is definitely one who will talk track with you if you have the time! A wonderful supporter of track and field and after 46 years, a very knowledgeable supporter for sure! Thank you Jabbo for the experience!
So let's start with the Thursday events for the girls.
I saw a T-shirt this week that said "I run like a girl... try and keep up!" That pretty much sums up the Girls state track and field championships on Thursday, May 26th! Just try and keep up. The girls field events started this warm Thursday morning and there's no way I can say that one event had taken the top spot for performances, but Mikayla Thompson (AAA, McGavock) really did a great performance in both the shot and discus. Her shot went 45-5.75 and the discus throw of 149-0 was a little over 15 feet further than her competition! The shot was 'just' over a foot longer that the number two spot, but hey, when it's that far ahead of everyone else, I'd say we put a slant on that t-shirt saying and change it to... "I throw like a girl... yea, I'm that good!"
On a day with a lot of close events, a very close performance to note was in the AAA girl's long jump. Angelica Lightfoot of Southwind made her senior year count by getting the long jump win by just a quarter of an inch over Blackman's Tanalya Gordon. Angelica jumped 18-4.5 to get those ten points for her team. And as close and impressive as those jumps were, the D2 class really outdid themselves in that same event, the long jump. Tyra Gittens (Ensworth) leaped a huge 19-7.75. But she wasn't the only girl in the meet to get into the 19 foot mark. St. Cecilia's Adreanna Parlette did just that with her 19-0 performance. That's really something to say that you jumped nineteen feet in the long jump and ONLY got second place! Again, pretty much sums up the day with all these great feats! Oh, and by the way, Tyra just barely missed her chance to tie the state record in the high jump as she gets the honor of saying she has the highest jump of the day at 5-10.
In the triple jump, we had three girls that broke above the 37 mark with AA's Lennex Walker (Chattanooga school for A&S) getting 37-7 which was actually the second best of the day. AAA's Maya Perry-Grimes of Cane Ridge set the standard at 37-9.5 for the day. Northeast's Danielle Craft getting 37-1 joined the 37 club and was second in that division! On the D2 side, Jordyn Lesh of Harpeth Hall was just ¾'s of an inch from joining those girls, so that's worth a mention for sure! Typically, triple jumpers are taller and long legged athletes but with Jordyn, she is the perfect example that the will to win, the willingness to train, and the smarts to embrace the technical aspects of the sport will make you better and overcome any odds that the norm will throw at you. That's the best part about track and field, you don't have to fit any mold - if you have the heart, you can be the best!
Just before 3:00pm Thursday, the loudspeakers began to play the Olympic anthem and followed that with the National Anthem to signal the start of the running events for the girls. Just like when the starter yells "SET", the anticipation to start was building with anticipation. These girls work all season long to get here and then work hard to do their best on this, the biggest stage for TN track!
The girls AA 4x800 team of Christian Academy of Knoxville was the first team on the top podium for the running events and they did so with the second fastest time across all divisions of the day in 9:36.36. That was almost ten seconds ahead of Central Magnet's 9:47.39. But the Brentwood girls 800 runners ruled this race with a 9:33.36 performance that pretty much made the AAA race one mainly for second place. And yea, the second place winner, Ravenwood, had to fight to get the runner up spot. Between Hardin Valley (9:44.56), Dobyns Bennet (9:42.73), and the runner up time of 9:40.75 by the Ravenwood girls, this was a very close race to watch as each and every handoff just brought out the excitement of how this would end up. The D2 race also had its share of excitement in the top finishers. Harpeth Hall and Girls Preparatory School battled it out ahead of the other D2 schools with Harpeth getting 9:51.63 just squeaking ahead of GPS's 9:52.22. That truly was a tight race for sure!
In the sprint events, specifically the 100M dash, there was some ties - well, sort of. The A-AA girl's top mark of 12.19 set by Signal Mountains McKenzie Ethridge was also the AAA top mark set just a few minutes after by Ceirra Tate of Whitehaven. Ok, they were in different divisions and different heats obviously but still they ran the exact times that afternoon! Here's a nice stat, there 30 girls that run marks under the 13 second barrier at this meet. McKenzie was the only double winner with the 100/200/400 group with her 24.40 mark against a very strong A-AA field this year. Grenetria Shell (East Nashville) and Dominique Chatman (Mitchell) came so very close for the runner up spot in the race with 24.717 and 24.719 respectively. Now that is close!
The 400M dash this year for the girls was really something to watch for all the divisions. The AA class led off with Mitchell's Dominique Chatman setting the first fast mark with her 56.50 to take the win. Then the D2 girls took to the oval and two girls hit 56 with Webb School of Knoxville's Jasmine Jefferson running 56.14 and Briarcrest Christian's Savanna Owens taking the win at the very l ast step in a blistering 56.08! Savannah is just a sophomore and Jasmine an 8th grader - so expect these girls to hit it up again next season! And then, saving the fastest for last, the AAA girls lined up. Houston's Felicia Phillips set the fastest mark of the day with a super run of 55.27. She was followed by Ravenwood's Riley White with a 55.78, then Kiara Rhodes of Whitehaven in 56.02, Tennessee's Kassidy Morton in 56.44 and two more at 56 with 56.68 by Riverdale's Anastasia Hayes and Centennials' Amelia Thiesing in 56.99! That's one heck of a lot of fast 400's that evening!
The 1600M run is always an exciting race to watch. Not sure if there's talk about ever changing that distance to the Mile like they are doing with the 1500 in college, but maybe it's worth a look at some time in the future. But for now, TN has a few girls that can run that 1600 and can run it fast. It's been since about 2009 since we had a girl (or girls) go under the 5 minute mark in the distance. That was Kathy Kroeger (Independence) and Virginia Hine (White Station) who went 4:55.62 and 4:58.70 that year. The fastest 1600 this meet was set by Christian Academy of Knoxville's Rebecca Story who took the mark down to 4:58.40 to win that about ten seconds ahead of second place finisher, Loral Winn of Dresden (5:08.20). In the AAA division, we saw two girls break that 5 minute barricade. The fastest in that class was a 4:58.45 by West's Megan Murray and in second in the division was the 3rd fastest of the meet a 4:58.76 by Brentwood's Hailey Hendry. That was one heck of a race too as these two girls pushed each other in all four laps of this race. Very exciting to watch that race unfold!
The temperatures cooled a bit as the evening running events progressed. A cold front was darkening the sky and a real urgency to get the running events finished before a storm came in was evident on all the officials and athletes. Not sure that was the trigger, but it appeared that once the second heat of the AAA girls 4x400 stepped up to the starting line, there was a real focus in the athletes. That focus turned into two of the fastest times of the year with Houston getting a 3:55.58 to get the runner up spot to Ravenwood's 3:55.22 winning time. Houston bettered their state leading time of 3:57.35 but was just short of Revenwood's sprint at the end of the race! There's a lot to say about waiting for that last race of the meet, the 4x400. That last race doesn't always hold the outcome of the team standings but it always holds the excitement that you'll see fast laps, gut wrenching performances, athletes giving their all at the end of the meet... that's what you want to see when it comes to track and field - nothing but the best all the way to the very end!!
Now for the boys recap.
The boy's pole vault had several pretty tall jumps going on with kind of a trifecta at the 14 foot mark. The D2 class was won with a 14-0 vault by Franklin Road Academy's Matt Ward. Bobby Willingham of CPA vaulted 14-0 to win the AA division. Then in the AAA class, Jacob Sobota of Bearden vaulted 14-0 himself but that vault gave him the runner up spot. The win, and the top vault of the meet, went to Jack Crouch of Centennial at 14-6. There was another - sort of - trifecta with the long jumps as well. This time the top spot in all the divisions were in the 22 foot area. A-AA's Quinton Poole of Creek Wood had the best jump of the meet with his 22-5.50. The second best leap was 22-3.5 by Quinton's teammate, Jonathan McCloud. Then a tie within a tie between Morristown-West (AAA) and George Patrick of Brentwood Academy (D2) at 22-2.75. And finishing out that group in the 22' range was Memphis Central's Rashad Haynes with his 22-2.50 jump. All those top marks were only 3 inches apart... Not a bad day in the sand I'd say! And staying in the sand, the top mark in the triple jump was set by Zack Dobson of Fulton (A-AA) with 46-2.75 and George Patrick was the other athlete over 46 and claimed the second best leap with his 46-0.25.
The high jump was a high-light so to speak (yes, I know, a bad pun!). There were eight athletes that jumped a height of 6-4. Dayton Leach won with that leap in the D2 class. That height also won the A-AA, and by misses. Jake Pczobut of Knoxville Catholic won with the 6-4. The second, third and fourth places in the A-AA class also had the 6-4 leaps - Zack Weatherly (CPA), Jonathan McCloud (Creek Wood), and in fourth Dylan Cravens of Alvin C. York. Then in the AAA division, second place was by Shawn Stacy (Bearden), third was Christian Shouse (Campbell County), and Ty Chesterfield (Riverdale) with all getting the 6-4 mark as well. The winner though went two inches more, and claimed the best at the meet at 6-6, and that was Germantown's Rodney Williams.
Great performances for sure, but I walked up to the shot put area just as Adam Neely was getting in one of his throws. As soon as the shot left his hand, the look in Adam's eyes and the booming yell pretty much said the conclusion was going to be a very good one... and indeed it was, as he tossed the shot a gigantic 18.26 meters or 59-11! That shot was rolling so strong, I thought I saw the railroad ties at the end of the pit move just a bit from the impact! And even though the other divisions saw winning throws in the high 51' mark, Adam's toss was clearly the crowning throw of the day! Adam also set the State's best throw in the discus at 181-5. When you see all that technique - and be very aware that the shot is an extremely technical event - come together like it did Friday, well... it was a joy to see!
Stepping into the running events, Brentwood high school already had the fastest time in the state coming into this meet. As they didn't beat that time, they certainly put on a show and were being pushed to the edge by Daniel Boone's team. Brentwood clocked one of two sub 8 minute relays in a fast 7:57.03 and Boone's team right behind them in 7:58.10. Daniel Boone led for a while at the beginning of the race but Brentwood pecked away at the distance between them and overtook them and never relinquished the top spot.
For most of the season, Brentwood Academy's George Patrick was nipping at the state record for the 110 Hurdles. He ran against a strong headwind at the Vanderbilt Great 8 early in May and clocked a super-fast sub 14 mark. Coming into this meet, he look poised to be the closest to taking that record since Harrison Williams of MUS went under it a couple years ago but was taken away because of the wind. Friday though there was a head wind and although George didn't get the record, he dispatched a very fast 14.26 to lead the meet in this event. The next closest time came from AAA athlete for Rhea County, Chase Sholl, in 14.48. All told, there were six sub 15 marks equally shared among the AAA and A-AA divisions at the meet.
But when it comes down to the 100M dash, the race that people say if you win then you get the moniker of being the fastest man of the meet! Well, Calvin Austin III of Harding Academy ended up as the fastest man of the meet with his 10.80 run that was just ahead of Ty Chandler's 10.93 of Montgomery Bell and Harding teammate Nicholas Martin who ran 10.99. That was a fast race for sure... but it might help to win the 200M dash if you want that 'fastest man' nickname to stick. And so Calvin did just that, he won the D2 200M dash in a very fast 21.73. That time was just 0.01 second ahead of AAA winner Isaiah Lucas of Kenwood. Right after that race, Isaiah looked out into the crowd (assuming to his coach or family) and yelled out his time in a display of enthusiasm for the sport that you just love to see in these young athletes! He was elated he broke under 22 and at the last meet he'll run with the Kenwood uniform! Ok, back to Calvin for a second. If you're still in doubt he's the fastest man of the meet, his 49.63 in the 400 to take the D2 title in the event should remove those doubts for good! It wasn't the fastest 400 of the meet that goes to Dobyns Bennett's Bryce Barrett who ran it in 47.83 (state best) and close to him was Germantown's Savien Hughes in 47.84. But still, 100, 200 and 400 sweep in some very impressive times! You got to love how well these guys can run!!
There were 16 guys who broke two minutes in the 800 at this meet. AAA winner, Jonathan Helton (Centennial) won it in 1:54.69 with Daniel Boone's Josh Routh right behind him in 1:54.98. Luke Meade won the A-AA in a photo finish that included a bit of bumping at the end. Luke scored a 1:59.09 and Knox Catholic's William Doktycz second in 1:59.18. But that was just a jog compared to what Terrell Jackson of Memphis University School did in his race. He started out fairly easy, ok... easy is a relative term here, he just looked like he was running easy. But maybe that's because Brentwood Academy's Andrew Powell was staying right on his heels making Terrell work for the win if that's what he wanted. Well, he did want that win as he started to pull away with about 300 meters to go and finally get across the finish line in a time that was about half a second from capturing the state record... yea, half a second! Man these guys are good!
There were 3 relays that set the state best mark at this meet, Pearl Cohn with the 4x100 relay was one fast 41.71! Whitehaven set the best State mark in two relays at this meet, the 4x200 in 1:27.06 and the 4x400 with a fast 3:20.65. The 3200 saw 17 guys break under the ten minute mark with 9:30.81 set by Ben Varghese of Daniel Boone as the best of the meet.
The TN State Track & Field Championships started on Monday morning with a couple of very long days competing in the Pentathlon and Decathlon. Some of us watched a very quiet, but competitive, few hours of vaulting in the girls AAA vault on Wednesday afternoon. Then we were thrilled with the girl's field and running events on Thursday. Even had to peek at the weather radar on our phones several time Thursday to see if we would even get the meet in with a huge front coming in. Well, we got lucky and the meet finished without any rain. Actually, the weather really wasn't too bad at all. Then Friday came and it was a bit hot and humid but the meet went smoothly, the performances fantastic, and the crowd getting into every event as the day went on. The athletes work hard to get to this meet and with the crowd cheering them on, the officials working tirelessly all day long (actually all week long and for some it started at the middle school state meet the weekend before!), all the spectators could enjoy some great Track & Field in Tennessee!
See you on the track!