State Recap of Memphis area D2-AA Athletes- Boys
Let's start with the top of the mountain. The guys from Christian Brothers walked out of the D2AA Region with a big bang and continued that ride through the State Track & Field Championships. The team finished in the State Runner-Up spot at the meet and considering they came in as an underdog to some degree, gave everything they had to make it a two-way fight for the top spot. Nobody on that team considered themselves an underdog, not one of them! There's got to be a hundred stories to be told about each of these athletes this past Wednesday. Every time I walked past one of the Brothers, I got either a big smile or a look of extreme focus... but mostly both!
They started out at the Decathlon without scoring a point. But if that was a low spot, you couldn't tell. They knew very well they had to start out the day strong. And who better to get them going than the big boys! DJ Harden tossed a state winning 61-8 in the shot and BJ Robinson threw out a whopping 162-2 giving them both wins in those events. The Brothers also got another 5 points out of BJ Robinson and Patrick Kutas in the shot. Patrick saved his best for last as he threw a 157-03 on his 4th and last throw to get him the third-place spot in the discus. That's a lot of points for these guys.
Another highlight in the field was Cole Hungate's 12-0 vault. Cole started out with a little scare with two misses at his opening height of 11-0. But then he recovered well and was able to get in another 4 points for the team.
So once the field events were over, the running game needed to kick in. Most everyone knew it was a tall order to take on a strong McCallie team but that first race of the afternoon, the 4x800 set the tone for sure. With each of the four guys taking those two laps around the track, complete focus is what it took. They ran a fast 8:08.29. Six seconds ahead of the runner up team. Six seconds is close. But these Brothers made it look far.
The sprints sometimes can go either way for the Brothers. But this year they were fast and strong. Getting another 4 points was Ryan Grantham in the 110M hurdles. An impressive 10.97 in the 100M gave Jaxon Hammond the top podium spot in that event. Right after that, the 4x200 took center stage and peeled off a smoking 1:28.80 that settles them nicely in the #4 spot in the TN Rankings! Six of the top 10 spots in the 4x100 rankings were set at the State meet this year. Christian Brothers set their mark and are 6th in the state overall with their performance Wednesday. That time got them in the runner up spot for the 4x100 relay. Very fast!
It seems like I'm pointing out a lot of Christian Brothers athletes that did well out of the Memphis area at the State meet. That's because they came to the meet with an army of kids on a packed bus. Memphis University school had some performances worth noting. With a 6-0 jump in the high jump, Caleb Littlejohn was the highest performance for Memphis area athletes in this class. The Owls 4x200 brought in some points with a 1:32.50 run in the 4x200 that marked the next best Memphis area relay in that event. But it was the Purple Wave that drew the excitement as they captured the 4x200 title in 1:28.80! Third place in this race was a half second behind - fast and close!
But this year it was really all CBHS. It's tough not to be a fan when you see so many powerful performances out of these guys. A bus load of guys!
And speaking of performances. You think distance runners can handle lots of miles and run all day long. Well, most can. But how about going to the State meet, the meet where the very best athletes from the state are there to compete. The best athletes around. The State championships always brings me back to a quote that most of you know who said it - To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift! That's right, anything less at State is sacrificing the gift you have.
Speaking of sacrificing. How about running the 3200, 1600, 800 and 4x400 all in one day. All while giving it your all. Christian Brother's Jake Ryan is probably what I would call somewhat of an unsung hero at this state meet. He did not stand on the podium on the #1 spot. He ran four races. The last race was a leg of the 4x400 relay that came in a close third place overall. I know it's the last race of the day, but I'm starting this out with a point - a 51.7. That time was Jakes split in the relay.
Now let's go back to early in the morning. About 8:15 or so the gun for the boys 3200M race went off. There was Jake in the pack the whole way. This race was close. There wasn't any room to be lethargic. There wasn't any room to hold back and sit and wait. Every athlete in this event ran sub 10 minutes. Every one of them. Jake was second overall in 9:47.12. Nothing lethargic about that! That was at around 8:25 in the morning. Nice way to start the morning.
Later that day, about 5:40pm, the 1600 was getting lined up. The gun went off on that race and there was the red headed Junior sticking with the pack. The winner of the 3200 was right there too and Jake knew it. With the final times in that race having a spread of about seven seconds, nothing lethargic about that race either. Jake finishes at 4:29.31, just about a blink of an eye from winning and less than a blink from holding off a few at the very end. And I'm not forgetting about Parker Russ who ran a 4:33.40 to get three points in the 6th place spot.
Seven o'clock rolls around and Jake is walking across the track from the check in tents. Ready to run the 800M. Jake, Russ Parker and Kaleb Smith all look focused. Having three of your Brothers in the same race might make you feel a little relaxed. But considering Jake ran a PR in the 3200 and close to that in the 1600 already, relaxed probably isn't the best term here. A fast pace in his third race of the day is how this one started. Jake runs a 1:59.17 (just about 3 seconds off his best), teammates Parker Russ (1:59.61) gets third place and Kaleb Smith runs 2:01.25 to get 5th. That's 18 points for these guys, with Jake leading the way again. By the way, Parker Russ was only half a second behind Jake and that got him a new PR for the distance as well.
The last race of the night and all four of the 4x400 relay members take their spot. This race wasn't going to be a deciding factor on who gets the team title. That was already decided. But it's not as if the race meant nothing. To the CBHS squad, it meant everything. So, they went out and finished the day like they came in. Very focused on doing their best. And Jake, like I said earlier, ran a 51.7 split. He did not get to stand on the number one box on the podium at this State meet. But I doubt there's anyone, anywhere, that can doubt how much this man embodies what a Champion is like.
Congrats to the boys D2 performers at State this year! Memphis had a great showing for sure.
See you on the track,