McCallie senior Hakim McMorris probably wishes there were a few events added to high school track and field, like hopscotch, jump-rope, or even a real-life version of Temple Run. Honestly, he would have a good chance at winning anything that combines jumping with running.
One thing is for sure, the future University of California at Berkeley Golden Bear was leaps and bounds ahead of his competition on Saturday.
McMorris swept all four of his events at the McCallie Mid-South Track Classic, winning the long jump (22-0.5), high jump (6-2), 110-meter high hurdles (14.72), and 300-meter hurdles (40.39). The only event involving jumping that McMorris didn't win was the triple jump, and that's because athletes were only allowed to compete in four individual events.
"My goal is to hit 23 in the long jump and hopefully 6-6 in the high jump," said McMorris. "I also have some work to do in the hurdles before state, and then I'll also be doing the decathlon."
Even in winning McMorris knows there's still work to be done. He had a long jump that was just shy of his 23-foot goal that was a scratch, and he missed on all three attempts at 6-6 in the high jump, something he was discussing with one of his coaches after the event.
"He told me that once I walked up to it and looked at it, I kind of psyched myself out," McMorris admitted.
McMorris wasn't alone in helping the Blue Tornado defend their home track. McCallie's throwers scored a whopping 43 points combined in just the shot put and discus. Dre Taylor won the shot put with a distance of 49-10, while Quindarius Dunnigan finished second and Wyatt Hughes came in third. In discus, Patrick Ramey, Dunnigan, and Taylor finished second, third, and fourth respectively behind Franklin senior Stone Page, who won with a throw of 152-5. Freshman Jack Braman also won the pole vault with a vault of 12-0, as McCallie scored 169 points to take the team title ahead of second-place Franklin's 91 points.
Sometimes the difference between having a good day and a great day can be a matter of seconds, as was the case for senior long-distance runner Dalton Kerschieter from Oakland High School. Kerschieter finished in second place by three seconds to Chattanooga Homeschool's Chase Faudi in the mile. You can watch that finish right here.
Kerschieter was then edged out by just 0.96 seconds by Gabriel Tardy in the 800 to come in second again in what was arguably the best race of the day with the top seven finishing just over two seconds apart. Despite barely missing out on winning both events, Kerschieter still earns the honors of the best overall boys' distance runner for the meet.
McMorris won the McIlwaine-Pataky Outstanding Athlete Award
for the most individual points scored.
The female award winner was Arts & Science's Alayah Dozier, who won
both the 100 (12.41) and 200 (25.51).
Even though she is only a sophomore, the rising star has lofty goals for
"I want try to win state in the 100, 200, and 400," said Dozier. "I have specific times I'm working toward, but mainly I just focus on winning each race."
One of the top performances of the day was in the girls' pole vault, where GPS senior Rachel Smith set a new meet record with a vault of 11-1. Despite the new meet mark, this was not Smith's personal best, which was 11-10 during her junior season.
"Last year I was working on just clearing the bar," said Smith, who will vault for East Tennessee State next year. "This year I have to work on my form because I want to get to 12 (feet). If I want to get to 12, instead of just going up in pole size, I have to learn to turn earlier so I can barely clear it."
Showing the often-hectic life of a top-tier high school student-athlete, Smith had to hurry away from the meet soon after she finished her event for her hair appointment before going to prom later in the evening. Not surprisingly, this didn't seem to affect any of the boys that had prom as well, many of which probably just put their tuxedos on over their track uniform.
Soddy-Daisy senior Mattie Thomas swept both of the girls' throwing events, winning the shot put with a distance of 35-5 and the discus at 104-1, barely beating Rhea County freshman Hallie DeArman by a foot in the latter.
In the girls' team competition, Fort Payne, Alabama was the winner with 86 points, while Franklin finished second and Oakland third.
Of note, three eighth grade girls competed in the meet. Mollie Sanderson of Fort Payne finished ninth in the 800 and 14th in the mile, Lauren Barrentine of Guntersville, Alabama finished 13th in the 3200, and her teammate Carly Hutchins grabbed second place in the 400 with a time of 1:02.38. In a meet this large (there were 20 girls' teams represented and 19 for the boys), these were fantastic finishes for young ladies that have so much time to improve.