TSSAA D2 State Track & Field Meet Recap

TSSAA D2 State Track & Field Meet Recap

This will be the last year that the Division 2 keeps its single class.  Next year, the large and small schools will be separated and like the D1 schools, split into classes based on student enrolment.  Not sure I'm convinced it's a good move but that's just my purest view of track and field.  You run fast, jump longest or highest, or throw the farthest and you win.  Simple track and field.  But as they say, it is what it is. 

There is an abundance of talent across the D2 schools both in the runs and the field events.  In the girl's triple jump, Baylor's JuToreyia Willis needed only one inch to take the top spot on the podium over Brentwood Academy's Morgan Louderback.  JuToreyia jumped 36-11.0 and Morgan had a 36-10 jump.  An inch to win, that goes to show how much this division has talent spread across the schools. 

The long jump wasn't quite as close as the triple, but it seems when Tyra Gittens is on the start list, it's the way it's going to be.  Tyra won the long in 20-1.75 which was about six or so inches under her qualifying jump a week earlier at the middle Region meet at MBA.  Tyra also won the high jump by taking the bar to 5-9 and the only misses she experienced was at the 5-11 mark that she just couldn't clear this time.  Tyra was the D2 Pentathlon winner where she set a national best of 4,153 points. 

The D2 girl's shot put was an enjoyable event to watch with the top two athletes in this event taking it down to the very last throw to decide the winner.  Aliyah Wells, the tall sophomore threw a 38-6.5 on her last throw that was about a foot and a half better than her best throw to that point.  And winner, Antinette Lewis of Harding also saved her best for last and threw a 40-6.75 toss that was an inch and a half better than her best previous throw.  The field events are your ultimate do-over sport.  If your first attempt isn't what you wanted, that's ok; you usually get at least a couple more attempts to better it.  When you actually can make the next attempts better, then you are doing what you should do in field events!  Can't get any better than that! 

The first running event of the day was the 4x800 relay that almost always comes down to that long standing close rivalry between Harpeth Hall and Brentwood Academy.  It seems they are always battling together.  And then add St. Agnes to the mix and you're watching what you probably have seen in so many past state contests that you sometimes wonder if there are others in the event.  There are, but it really does seem to come down to these three teams year after year.  No change this year.  St. Agnes ran a 10:01.89 to get the bronze spot, Brentwood Academy in 9:52.73 for second and this years' champion Harpeth Hall ran a very strong 9:49.66.  I suppose it remains to be seen which top three teams will be making the trip next year. 

With Tyra Gittens in the 100 Hurdles, it comes down to how fast will she run and then, who can take the runner up spot.  This athlete doesn't make it a habit to lose in the hurdle race, as a matter of fact, this season Tyra ran eight 100 hurdle races including her Pentathlon runs and was in 1st place on every single race.  Coming into this state championship, she wasn't going to break that streak.  When she was finished with the race, Mile Split's Will Boling interviewed her and you should watch that video.  She talks about how her race wasn't really that well executed from a technical standpoint.  But hey, a "B" race still gets her a win and that is testimony to how strong this athlete competes.  For those other athletes competing in the D2 class, seeing her graduate is probably a welcome site.  But I'm sure they're all wishing her well as she takes her talents to the next level in college. 

The D2 girls 100M dash came down to something you normally don't see, a lot of youngsters taking the top spots. Of the eight qualifiers, only one was a senior.  The 100M is a flat out sprint and normally takes a few years to develop the drive phase enough to be good at the starts and be able to get to the top end speed - and hold it there - over the full 100 meter distance.  It's harder than you think to be good at this race.  Seeing freshman athletes that good at this level is not a normal circumstance.  Baylor's Makayla Packer covered the span in 12.28 and Jasmine Jefferson of Webb School ran next to her in 12.36.  Two freshmen that we are likely to see for several more years.  I'm just wondering how fast these two can get! 

Of course, running the 100 is one thing but there's a distance that typically takes a bit of experience.  The 400M race is one that fits that trait precisely.  Last year, Savannah Owens (Briarcrest) and Jasmine Jefferson went 1 and 2 respectively in a race that really was fast and exhilarating to watch.  This season, the match-up was set again.  With the wind a factor, the race did carry a bit of a challenge on how to exactly run it best.  But in the end, experience seemed to prevail as Savannah won by just a bit larger margin compared to last year.  Savannah finished in 56.22 and Jasmine in 57.12.  The same result as last year and again, a very exciting race to watch again.  Now, what's in store for next season!  By the way, that 56.22 was the fastest girls 400 at this year's state championships, for any division.

The girls 1600 race for this division is almost always going to be a horse race.  This year was no different and King's Academy standout senior Niamh Schumacher ran in the lead for most of the race and won in 5:08.60.  The second spot was just a bit harder to get and there were two girls finishing less than half a second apart to settle the runner up spot.  Miki Narayani of Webb School got the bronze in 5:11.58 and a hard charging Meredith Helton of Brentwood Academy was able to secure the runner up spot for this exciting race.  Since finishing last in the state meet her freshman year - of course, against some of the fastest athletes ever assembled, but still at the end - Meredith has put a focus on her running and has been able to greatly improve her finishing spots in everything she races!  Going from the pity applause to the winners circle is, well, proof that hard work and dedication will get you the results you deserve!  Great running there for sure!

The 800 girls race here was set up to be a good race with several of the qualifiers coming into the meet with strong two lap resumes.  The first lap turned quickly into a two person race with Brentwood Academy freshman Whitney Powell getting across first in about 66 seconds to set a strong pace.  Just behind her by about three meters was Briarcrest Christian junior speedster Meghan Underwood, a gap that was about to quickly disappear.  As she was coming out of the second to last turn in the race, Meghan make a move on the freshman and very quickly switched that gap.  That gap went from a one second trail to a five second win.  It seemed Meghan just kept increasing her speed to close she got to the finish line.  I suppose that's what is meant by having a great kick!   

To give you a little more background and perspective on this athlete, Meghan sat out her sophomore track season to comply with transfer rules. That was a difficult decision to make for some but in this case, it was a solid decision based on, well, let's just say it was a good decision and I'll leave it at that.   Not running the outdoor season last year gave her a thirst for competition once the meets were available. So the indoor season was in her sights to get in as many meets as she could.  She started out this past February at the Vanderbilt indoor high school meet and went on to run the fastest indoor time for the girls 800 in TN.  The next day, she went into the hospital to have surgery to have her appendix removed!  It's pretty impressive for this young athlete to recover well enough to get a state championship title and is certainly a testament to her dedication and talent as a track and field athlete.  Great to see track athletes that love the sport enough to stick it out and try their best!  And with only two seniors in this 800M D2 race, we may just be in for some great racing next year as well! 

The D2 ended the evening with Harpeth Hall winning the 4x400 in a time of 4:03.06 which was about four seconds slower than their D2 state leading time, but still kept them on the top of the podium for this exciting relay.  Briarcrest Christian tagged a second place finish in 4:06.58, Ensworth 3rd in 4:07.79 and fourth place took a 4:08.78 for Baylor to round out the top four teams finishing under the 4:10 mark.  Nice way to close out this years' Girls D2 state championships!

So on to the boys recap.  The D2 pole vault had a starting height of 10-6 which was the highest for all divisions this week.  This was a group of very good vaulters that came to compete.  Eight place was John Farr of Montgomery Bell who set a new PR to get to that spot with his 12-0 vault.  After that, three guys cleared 12-6 with Henry White getting 7th with the miss counts at that height, and two Briarcrest athletes Troy Taylor and Landon Wright getting the 6th and 5th spots.  Clearing 13 and getting 4th was Knox Perry of Brentwood Academy.  Then two at 13-6 included Daniel Tell of Briarcrest (3rd) and Jack Bolton of BGA (2nd).  Montgomery Bell's Lamar Warner needed a jump off with Jack to get 13-9 and take the win.  That's how close and how talented this group of vaulters were at this years' state championships. 

The D2 boys long jump was exciting with a tie at the top that required a tie breaker to decide the winner.  Yes, at the state level ties are required to be broken.  Ty Kimberlin of Harding jumped 21-3.75 as did Thomas Ozburn of Brentwood Academy.  Ty got the gold with his second best jump being a 20-11.5 vs Thomas second best of 20-10.  Ok, wow!  That's a 1.5 inch tie breaker.  Talk about heart breaks.  We expected this division to have some excitement, but this took it to another level for sure.  The boys high jump required a tie breaker as well, with two guys clearing 6-4.  Brentwood Academy's Caleb Harris won with absolutely no misses on all his attempts including his last cleared height of 6-4.  Understanding the high jump and the strong coaching staff at Brentwood Academy certainly helped this athlete get the state title!  Great to see! 

In both the throwing events, the top 2 athletes in each event were tightly matched.  Tim Covington (Ensworth) and Jordan McCoy (BA) threw a 52-0 and 51-8 in the shot respectively to take the top two spots in this event separated by only four inches!  Sixteen inches separated the top two in the discuss with Tanner Antonutti of Ensworth throwing 152-8 and Lausanne's Nyle Love tossing it 151-4.  Those were very impressive performances and to only be separated by inches really put the exhilaration into these throwing events for this division. 

Once the runs started, the Christian Brothers boys took the 4x800 by storm when they went out strong and finished even stronger in a swift 8:04.54 that was almost ten seconds ahead of a strong Brentwood Academy team that ran 8:13.74.  With the wind blasting these guys, that time was even more impressive.  On this blustery day, the CBHS boys ran the third fastest time across all the divisions and so proved how strong a race it really was. 

The sprints were left up to Harding Academy's Calvin Austin III and he was able to make it a three-peat when he ran - and win - the 100M dash in 11.07, the 200M dash in 21.54, and the 400M dash in 48.55.  He also was a part of the winning 4x200 relay that went out that day to try and break the state record and ended up close with a 1:26.93 and the fastest time of the day for the relay.  That gives this senior athlete a forty point total for the events he qualified for at the state meet.  Not a bad total for the guy! 

The 4x100 relay for the D2 class ended up in an extremely close photo finish where both teams were given a 42.09 but the photo showed Briarcrest Christian getting ahead of Lausanne Collegiate school by the narrowest of margins.  It took a while for the results to get posted, but the smiles on the faces of the Briarcrest team certainly proved it worth the wait!  And that win was after a little hiccup at the first exchange that enticed Tyler Badie to run his second leg in an all-out sprint that even he was surprised he could execute!

Hakim Morris of McCallie started out his hurdles with a not so great 110, but quickly made that up in a blistering 39.30 to get the 300 hurdle win over Briarcrest athlete Daniel Tell who managed a second place with a 39.77.  As these guys made the turn over the seventh hurdle, you can tell they were both driving to get the win and really wanted it bad!  These two guys went head to head in the Decathlon earlier in the week and so were familiar with each other and had that decathlon bond you see among those guys.  But still, they both wanted the win! 

In one of the last races of the day, Carter Coughlin took to the 3200M run and decided to just go out in front and stay there.  Running eight laps out front is not an easy thing to do with the wind swirling like it was and the air just a bit warmer than most 3200 runners prefer.  However, Carter, the Webb School of Knoxville athlete, went strong and stayed strong to get the win almost thirty seconds ahead of second place and posting a top 5 time of the day in 9:34.46.  That some courageous running and did a great job of front running from start to finish! 

The Brentwood Academy took both the girls and the boys D2 titles to add to their growing dominance in the sport!  The school no doubt considers track and field a worthwhile sport, that goes without saying.  But there's something else the school helps bring to the sport - volunteers!  Coaches, parents, and friends of the schools track program can be seen on and around the track at the state meet with their TSSAA shirts and volunteer badges.  The team truly takes the sport seriously, both on the track and helping around the track.  That really is good to see! 

After a week of Decathlon, Pentathlon, vaulting, jumping, throwing, running, the state meet ended with so many athletes setting PR's and breaking school records and doing just what they came out to Murfreesboro to do - their best!  What I consider as one of the purest of all sports, Track and Field came to middle Tennessee and really showcased the sport... these athletes did their best and put their talents on display in grand fashion! 

See you next year... on the track!

Coach Ted