Recap of D2 Large School State Track and Field meet
Let's start with the color purple. We saw the Christian Brothers purple wave tally up 117 points at the state meet and ended up securing a third place team finish for the effort! It's no surprise they did as well as they did, they qualified a ton of athletes while crushing the competition at the D2AA West Region championships. After a few years of the coaching carousel and what appeared to be a lack of Track focus, the Purple Wave is now becoming a force to be taken seriously in the Memphis area, and the State in general.
Let's review how they did that. To begin with, they came into the Wednesday finals with 2 points made during the State Decathlon from William Wallace who earned a 7th place spot with his 5485 points. Across the board, the Brothers were fairly balanced gaining points in all the categories. Surprisingly enough, the throws were the one area they didn't rack up the points that they normally do. I doubt that will happen in the future though!
The sprints were probably their top scoring gains with Antonio Lay capturing the 100 and 200 dashes with some very impressive times. The 200 time of 21.73 was pretty close to a second ahead of the second place finisher. And the shorter race, the 100M dash, was equally as impressive as his 10.66 was just over half a second in the front of the rest of the finishers. Antonio also captured third in the long jump with 21-6.5 feet which was just behind the runner up in the event, CBHS's Joseph Heinz, who had a leap of 21-7.5. Looking at these jumps, CBHS got about 22 points across the board in these events.
It's no surprise, but the 800 was a good showing for the Brothers as well. Having swept this event at the Region meet, these guys were clearly on a mission. Tyler Casey posted a 2:01.71 to get the overall runner up spot in the event and also the tag of being the fastest D2 athlete across the finish line. Teammates Nino Barnes (2:04.91) and Constatine Campbell (2:11.33) scored as well with their 5th and 8th place finishes giving the guys a total of 13 points for the one event.
Not to leave out the other guys from Memphis, Memphis University School racked up some points with the best triple jumping performances from the Memphis area D2 schools. Dorian Hopkins was third with 42-4 and Churchill Akhigbe fifth with a jump of 41-1.25.
MUS was near the top of the Memphis area throwers and earned the number 4 spot in the shot with DJ Brown's 49-6 throw. That toss was just behind third place finisher, DJ Harden of CBHS with a toss just a couple of inches further at 49-8. And yes, this sport is not only one of hundredths of seconds, it also can come down to a matter of inches! MUS also had a good placing in the Discus with a 3rd spot by Matthew Rhodes (139-02) and fifth by Dorian Hopkins (137-10).
There have been times when I've said that the 4x800 relay shouldn't be one of the events at the state meet. I'm a purist when it comes to track and think the Olympics relays are the only ones that belong in the larger championships. However, after watching the relay this past week with CBHS boys missing out on getting first overall in the event by just 0.33 - a third of a second - I can say directly now that this is a fun race to watch and let's keep it in the lineup! Eight total laps and a third of a second apart certainly is going to make any critic a fan of the race!
The girls side of the Memphis area D2 Large schools started out with Kate Sander of St. Agnes sprinting down the vaulting runway and getting a 12-4 height to win that event in dominate fashion. Kate has been a very powerful vaulter in the Memphis area this season and no doubt that's a testimony to her dedication and hard work each and every day! And of course, with such a technical event, having a good vaulting coach helps just a bit too!!
Just to stay with the St. Agnes athletes for a few more minutes. When the running events started, the Stars took to the track with what I might call a bit of a shocker of a race. Starting the first leg of the 4x800 in about 2:35 and handing off the baton in fourth place, the St. Agnes team didn't look bad, but didn't look like a win was at hand. But, like they say - it's why we run the race - they just kept gaining ground and made up a good amount of ground in the second leg. Then it looked like the third leg was losing some ground but made up a lot in the last 100 meters of the leg. Once the final leg took the baton, the race was starting to look good for St. Agnes. A big push by second place Harpeth Hall at the 250 mark was a scare for the Stars but a big kick at the end sealed the deal and St. Agnes won in a very exciting 9:50.13 relay race! Both Kate and the 4x800 relay team were clearly two of the most noteworthy performances out of the meet for D2 AA Memphis area athletes.
But at the risk of sounding self-serving, most likely the best individual performances by any of the D2AA schools was by Briarcrest Christian's junior hurdler, Michella Diebenow. Using her very smooth stride and goal of "first to the first" Michella was able to sweep both the 100 and 300 hurdle races at this State meet. Her 300 time of 43.98 ends up being the #2 time in the state among all divisions. Although Michella already has a time that is 4th in the state among all divisions, her wind affected time (strong head wind) in the 100 hurdles at state would be ranked 5th overall. Michella was also the 2nd leg in a 4x100 relay that came in with the fastest Memphis area D2 Large school time of 49.70. By the way, that relay time was also a school record! When an athlete doesn't miss practice, stays till everything is complete, has the desire to be the best... well, the results certainly will show!!
Let's go back to the field events for a second. The Briarcrest duo of Senior Rachel Sullivan and Freshman Kat Harris were able to get the best marks in the high jump this meet for the Memphis athletes. Rachel cleared the 5-foot mark and Kat at 4-10 getting 3rd and 6th respectively for the Saints. I do want to put out a comment here - I'd like to see the tie breaker rule for the state meet to change a bit. The rule I'm talking about is when there is an identical height made across the state in either the high jump or pole vault. The rule says (TSSAA rule) that the height that places highest in their region gets the nod to go to state. My rule would be to bring all the athletes that made that height. Wouldn't it be more fair to let all those that make a height duke it out at State to see which is better on that day???
Ok, so here's something that is another one of those impressive stories for the State track meet. Senior Alyiah Wells was up in the shot put to defend her title and was able to throw it 41-8.75. It didn't get her a repeat win, but she secured the second place spot. The real story though is that Alyiah came into the meet with barely a week's worth of training. After recovering from leg surgery this spring, she wasn't cleared to compete until a few days before the Region championships. Not a whole lot of practice and yet a runner up spot at state, not a bad showing for sure for this Saint!
Briarcrest Christian was able to bring athletes to the State meet in all four of the relay events. The Saints weren't able to topple the St. Agnes performance in the first relay of the day but were able to post the 2nd best Memphis team mark in the 4x800 of 10:20.73 that netted them 3 points from the 6th place finish. That was the fastest time for this team this season. Let's see... a senior, junior, sophomore and freshman make up this relay. Now that's the way to spread out the group!!
They also had the fastest D2 large time in the 4x200 for Memphis teams with 1:50.92. The 4x400 relay didn't fare as well, but still ran an impressive 4:16.70 which was off their qualifying time but still one of the fastest for that Saints team this season.
The 200M dash was something to keep an eye on, and I'd say keep an eye on for next year as well. Michella Diebenow decided to give this event a try at the Region meet and ended up getting the last at-large to run this at state. She ran 26.97 that was pretty impressive considering she likely was a bit tired from the 300 hurdles a couple of events earlier. Yea, she had some really good rest time while the 800 meter race was on, then in the blocks. And still she got the 2nd best time for Memphis D2AA athletes at the meet. The best time was by Briarcrest Freshman, Kayleigh Prentiss. Running a 26.08 into that head wind and her first State meet ever, well, pretty notable performance for sure! Kayleigh also competed in the 100 hurdles and the long jump earlier. Let's keep an eye on this young athlete as she develops into what could be a very strong track and field athlete.
The 1600 for the girls in this division is one tough event to be even able to qualify to get in. Briarcrest Junior, Vi Stuart, did just that by view of winning the Region meet. She came in 7th overall but this was after suffering some severe muscle cramps over the last few weeks that stumped a lot of people, and doctors. She even attempted the 3200 race at the Region meet but after two miserable laps, had to drop out because of the pain. But somehow, she recovered in time to win the region and get to state and be able to stand on the wood! Sometimes, even a 5:41 that's far off any PR in the 1600 is not the surprise at all. Sometimes it's just the journey and the ability of the athlete to overcome setbacks that make the surprise.
Then finishing off the State meet, and likely off the 4x800 victory, Carolyn Barksdale (St. Agnes) ran one her fastest 800 races of her career. With a 2:18.30, she took the top podium spot for the meet among a very strong contingent of athletes across the state! Then the St. Agnes girls lined up for the 4x400 and were the first Memphis team to cross the line in one heck of a competitive relay. Their time of 4:15.20 turned out to be the fastest D2 time from the Memphis area all season. That's a pretty good way to finish the season for these St. Agnes athletes!!
Track and Field in Memphis is a very popular sport and the
way everyone performed at the State meet this season, my guess is that it'll be
that way for a very long time!!
See you on the track,