Performer of the Week
Every week this season we will be conducting a poll from beginning Monday and ending Wednesday to highlight the performances from the previous week. This will give us an opportunity to showcase the best talent in Tennessee. Though some athletes will likely lay down marks every meet that are worthy of being in the poll every time, our goal is to cast a wide net and showcase a vast array of athletes from all parts of the state.
Autumn Headrick - Dobyns-Bennett
Last week at Hardin Valley, Junior Autumn Headrick had a solid day of racing given the conditions running a PR in the 1600m at 5:14 and notching a victory over stiff competition in the 800m with a 2:27.
It was likely a confidence boosting victory over a lot of runners she's going to be competing with for qualifying spots in those events later this season. This weekend in South Carolina, she built on that with three victories (4x800m, 1600m, 800m) at the Beach Run Invitational with PRs in both of her individual races (5:09 and 2:25). The 1600m time vaults her to 3rd in the event in Division I Class AAA.
Claire Stegall - Nolensville
One of the runners ahead of Autumn in the 1600m is Claire Stegall who, every week she races, will likely be in consideration for these "performer of" polls. While she was passed over last week, there's no overlooking her this week. The freshman from Nolensville set two US #5 marks in the 1600m and 3200m distances at Scott Hartman running 4:54 and 10:31 respectively. Including her only indoor race, her floor for the mile distance seems to be, regardless of conditions, in the 4:55 range. The question I have and likely everyone else has as well is what is her ceiling when she's not running solo efforts? Perhaps, if she runs Great Eight, she may be able to be pushed by a Bella or Abby Faith before post-season racing.
Claire Stegall ran 4:56 at March Madness in 15 MPH sustained winds.
Denver Winters - Memphis Central
Seems like these girl hurdlers this season are just going to take turns setting number one times this season. Last week, it was Brianna Baker, this week, it's Denver Winters. The junior from Memphis Central ran one PR on Saturday at the Southwind Showdown in the 100m Hurdles clocking a 15.20 (TN #4) and while she didn't run a PR in the 300's, she did set a TN #1 with a 45.98. Last year, she placed 3rd in the event with only Madison Romain returning ahead of her.
Nyla Blackmon - Southwind
The defending Large Division I 200m State Champion, Nyla Blackmon, raced twice this week and twice she set the fastest times in the state for the short sprints. At the Starkville Invitational she went 12.21 and 25.16 but then followed those performances up with a 12.08 and 25.13 at her home track. Both marks are TN #1s. What interests me about the senior Jaguar is how much she dabbled in the longer sprint in indoor. She ran the fastest girls indoor 400 with a 58.04 in Arkansas and ran a respectable 1:01.95 Tuesday night. It was clear from her race history she was ramping up for the triple and she confirmed that on Saturday.
She also announced on Saturday she's headed to Austin Peay!
Jadarica Welch - Haywood
Only three girls so far this season have cleared 5-4 in high jump and one of them is Jadarica Welch of Haywood High School. She didn't clear that height this weekend but she did clear 5-2 for the 4th time and has won SIX... yes SIX high jump competitions so far this season including Saturday's Southwind Showdown. She spent her first three seasons in Large Division I but now she's been classified down to Division I Class AA and is in the drivers seat with six inches on her next closest competitor. Hopefully she has some spring left in those legs come May because she did not have a great outing in Rockvale at the end of last season.