Memphis Area State Track Meet Recap - Division 1
The TN State track meet is, as it should be, one of the toughest competitions of the year. Standing above the number one on the podium is a rare air event for sure and a challenge to say the least! Overall, the three days of track and field went pretty well. You have to thank the officials that spent the three days moving hurdles, managing the finish line, getting water to the athletes, and just about everything else needed to make a track meet run as smooth as it did. The Vanderbilt sports medicine folks were excellent as well. One even came by me to be sure I was drinking enough water... I probably wasn't, so that was great observation skills there. Let's go onto a quick recap of how the Memphis area athletes did at this end of season Championship!
At nine in the morning, the field events kicked off the meet. I kind of wish the 3200 was run in the morning - not so much to make the evening excitement sustained but more to let the athletes run in a bit cooler weather. But hey, my opinion there.
A few of the D1 athletes from the Memphis area were ready to make their mark in the field events at these championships. Having to battle a bit of a head wind coming down the runway, Kyla McLaurin was able to put together a string of good triples Thursday. Having qualified for the finals with just over 38 feet, she was set to go and got a winning mark of 39-2.5 on her fifth overall jump. That was about a half inch off her PR in the event but enough to secure the win.
Another noteworthy field event was the D1 girls high jump. Memphis Central's Serena Lee was able to clear 5-4. There were three other girls clearing the same height, but Serena earned the 4th spot overall due to the tie breaker rule on number of misses. Serena's teammate, Brittney Ivory came home with a couple of medals having tossed the shot 39-8.75 and the discus 120-1 and getting the fourth overall spot in each of those events and the top Memphis area finisher for the D1 class this year. Whitehaven's Michaela Brown threw 37-9.5 in the shot for the second best thrower from the Memphis area and that earned her another four points to help with the team competition.
Liam Jogal lead off the boys D1 Memphis area field events with his vault of 13-6. Liam only had one miss on his climb to that height, and when you do that, you know you're in for a good day. And having a good day usually means getting near the top of the podium. Arlington's thrower, Roland Turner, didn't exactly have his best day, but was able to toss the discus to 156-6 and fifth place in the championships. His 45-8.5 in the shot moved him just off the podium but both shot and discus marks that earned him the best for the Memphis area D1 schools.
The Whitehaven boys team turned in a runner up team finish earning 51 points at the meet. A majority of those point came from the running events. With a handful of guys that can run sub 2:10 800's, it's not surprising that the boys 4x800 team kicked off their night with an impressive second place finish in a fast 8:08.78. That earned 8 points, the first points of the meet for the team. Their closest finisher in the field events was Joshua Exom, who slipped just out of the top eight in the long jump.
Of course, leading the way for the Whitehaven team was none other than Senior athlete Emmanuel Bynum. Running 10.76 in the 100M dash and 21.18 in the 200M dash were superb marks that earned him the winning medals in both. There was an article about Emmanuel in the local (well, I guess local) newspaper about him transferring from the now closed school and how the school welcomed him. Um, I'd say this was a big thank you for that welcome for sure!
But that wasn't all Emmanuel did this past Thursday. Wedged in between those short sprint events was the 400M dash. Having taken off hard in the first 200 of the race and being chased by just one competitor down the final turn, Emmanuel won in a State Record time of 46.60. That was over a second ahead of fellow Memphis competitor Nicholas Bryant of Southwind. Bartlett's Isaiah Weasby was third in 48.59 making it a top three sweep for Memphis area athletes in this 400M event!
And speaking of sweeps, the first heat of the boys 800 at this D1 meet was a Memphis showcase with Whitehaven's Andrew Brown running 1:58.08, followed by Germantown's Caleb Hobbs in 1:48.12 and Southwinds Keyorray Moore in 1:58.20. Those three earned fifth, sixth and seventh overall in the event that had eleven guys running sub 2 minute times!
One of the top distance runners in the Memphis area is Jackson Williams of Arlington. Jackson took fifth spot at the state 3200 in 9:39.60 and the 8th spot in the 1600 in 4:24.93. And not surprising, the other fastest Memphis area distance athlete, Houston's Bradley Turner, was the fastest Memphis area finisher in the 1600 edging out Jackson by just over half a second in 4:24.29. These two guys always make it interesting for me when it comes to calling a race when both are going head to head. With Bradley graduating, I'm interested to see who can challenge Jackson in the Memphis area now!
With Whitehaven girls taking a fairly dominate team title this year, you would think they'd have a star athlete in the mix as well. And they do, however, it was their relays that really gave them an edge. They were able to score big in 3 of the 4 relays at State. The 4x100 ran 47.74 and the 4x400 team ran 3:58.12 that gathered a total of 16 points with the runner up finishes in both these events. The 4x200 team was only 0.02 of a second from getting to a similar runner up spot but instead settled for third and another six points for the team. That's 22 points out of the relays.
As I mentioned earlier, Michaela brought in some points in the shot but the speedy legs of the Whitehaven girls are what brought in the bulk of the points. Kirstin Jones took in a runner up spot in the 100M dash, then followed that up with a win in the 400 (54.99) and near the end of the night, took a win in the 200M dash as well in a very fast 24.05 time. Whitehaven's hurdler, Emani Johnson ran a 43.46 in the 300 hurdles that gave her a clear tight wind by just over half a second.
Just behind Emani in the 300 hurdles was Southwinds Tyra Nabors in second place with a 44.10. Tyra also nabbed a win of her own with a 14.72 run in the 100 hurdles that was the fastest time in the event across all three days of competition. That certainly helped Southwinds team to take the third spot in the team competition this season.
But I would be making a big mistake if I failed to talk about the Southwind's 4x200 relay. They passed the baton around the oval about a half second faster than anyone has even done at the state meet. They were also more than three seconds ahead of the second place team! Ok, yes, they were that much faster than the best teams in the state! The old record was set about 15 years ago. This new record, 1:39.19, is likely to sit for a heck of a lot longer than that!!
Relays are always fun to watch, that 4x200 certainly ranks right up on that list as well. But something is special about watching the 4x400 at the end of a long day of track and field. This year, the state meet was a showcase for some of the best Memphis area 4x400 relay teams! Running 4:00.65 was Germantown's team of sprinters. That was good enough for third spot this year at State. In the runner up spot was Whitehaven's team with their 3:58.12. And not surprising to me, the Houston girls 4x400 team ran 3:55.30. Not only did that get them the win and ten points for the team, the effort earned them the final top spot in the State's 4x400 ranking this season! Now that's a pretty nice way to finish up the track season for sure!!
And as always, just so we all know one thing... this was just a short wrap up of what I saw at the track meet that stood out for our Memphis athletes. Getting to State is an accomplishment all in itself and so all the athletes getting in their jumps, throws and runs deserve at least a rousing standing ovation for their great season of Track and Field!!
See you on the track,