2023 Houston Classic Meet Recap

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2023 Houston Track Classic

The Houston Classic has been around for several years. It started out as the Germantown Classic and then exchanged over to the Houston Classic in the early 2000's. At times, the meet seemed to morph into an overwhelming massive meet with athletes just about everywhere on, around and outside the track. This year with 48 teams and about 1400 individual events entered, it stays the course as one of the biggest meets in the Memphis area.

The performances at the meet are never dull. A handful of senior boys from the area certainly made a statement about how fast the sprinters are in the Memphis area this season. Central's Jordan Ware almost matched his Eastern indoor PR with a 21.49 in the 200. Although there's some faster 200's in the state, I would not ever count this athlete out when the gun goes off. CBHS senior, Jaxon Hammond had a pretty solid race this weekend with a win in the 100 with a 10.59 and runner up to Jordan in the 200 with a PR of 21.84.

If you look at the solid 100 and 200 times at this meet, it's not a big stretch to think the sprint relays were going to be a show to watch. And that it was. And the Christian Brothers team came out with the big guns and notched wins in the 4x100 (42.08) and the 4x200 (1:29.06) relays.  They had to work for those wins with Collierville (42.32) and Melrose (42.84) and Germantown (42.85) all under 43 on this somewhat breezy and warm day on the track.

The Purple Wave also took the Distance medley holding off a very fast visiting team from Chicago (Lane). It's always fun to watch these longer medley races come down to just a couple of seconds apart. CBHS ran 10:41.69 and Chicago ran 10:45.09.

And speaking of distance races being fun... the 1600M run was one very exciting race. We saw some Senior athletes pitted against some young guns. This time, the younger ones were the fastest of the bunch. Sophomore Joe Edwards of CBHS (4:27.93) was the winner with Junior Tobias Tanui (Germantown) right behind him at 4:29.94. The 3200M though was the opposite with the top finishers all seniors. Maybe it's just the experience needed to effectively manage eight laps of the oval. Clarksville High's Matthew Dunsworth (9:34.26) beat out Arlington's Brent Lyons (9:36.05) to take the top spot. Bartlett's Christian Patterson was third in 9:37.73 to round out the top three senior finishers. No one performance stood out more than Jarryn Lowe's 800m run. We knew the 800m field had the potential to be fast but 1:52.92?! The mark set a new Houston Track Classic record and moves Lowe into the the Top 30 All-Time for Tennesseans in the event. 

If you haven't looked at the results from the meet yet, it's probably not hard to figure out with me mentioning the CBHS guys a few times that they took the team title this season. But I would be careless in this article if I didn't mention a couple other reasons that the Purple Wave did so well. That of course would be the throws. The Discus was a 1-2-3 sweep for the boys with Ashton Hearn tossing out new PR and a top two state mark of 169-9 at this meet.  Zach Davenport also set a new PR with his 153-01 toss. And although he didn't set a new PR, Drew Benton was still good enough to cap off that top three sweep by these Brothers. In the shot, these guys took the top 2 spots as Tristian Johnson (54-7) and Jakob Alperin (53-4) got the Brothers a few more points with their tosses. Arkansas's Cabot High Schools senior Chris Leaks took that third spot with his 51-0 throw.

And lastly for the recap of the boys. One of my favorite events in track, one that I did myself, is the pole vault. Setting a new State best mark of 15-6 was CBHS's senior Cole Hungate! This year Cole has been on a tear. At the state indoor championships, he set a new indoor PR of 15-1 to kick off his year as strong as ever. Jason Vogt's Memphis vault club is really pumping out some fantastic vaulters this year and Cole is one of the standouts for sure!  And by the way, Cole's vault broke the Houston Classic Pole Vault record of 15-5. That record was set in 2011 by a kid from Oxford MS high school. The kid was Olympian, American Record holder, and World Champion Sam Kendricks. That's some rare air for sure!

On the girl's side, I'll continue on with the Vault. And yes, Coach Vogt's group made an impressive showing again. St. Agnes Academy's senior phenom in the vault, Caroline Weems yet again notched herself a win. With a vault of just one inch... yes, one inch... under her PR of 13-1, Caroline easily took this meet win in stride. The next 3 vaulters all cleared 10-0 and so tie breaker rules came into play. Collierville's Kendall Glaser took second, Amalia Shapiro of St. Mary's Episcopal Memphis third and Evangelical's Campbell Pallera in fourth. Vaulting on the raised runway in the middle of the field put all these vaulters in the limelight and they all did not disappoint! You gotta love the pole vault!

Being the host school, the Houston girls took this meet seriously. The Lady Mustangs notched wins or runner up finishes in the 100M, 200M, 400M, 1600M, 3200M, 4x100, and 800M Medley to rack up a few points in their somewhat close point total of 115 to Collierville's 92 and Central's 80.5.  Sophomore Karlisa Mungen started off the open sprints for the Black and Grey notching a victory in the 100m dash running 12.56. 

She would place second the bookend the day in the 200m dash. In between and most notably, the Tennessee State Leader in the 400m dash, Eva Gautreaux, lowered her state lead breaking a Houston Track Classic record in the process. 
Her 55.79 now puts her 25th all time in the one lap event. 

Harpeth Hall's Lily Bowen (below) and Houston's Zoe Marsh made a show of the 1600M. Lily took the win (5:11.04) while Zoe was runner up (5:11.73). Less than a second certainly makes for a close race after doing 4 laps of the track. Zoe also showed her strength in the 3200M having to go up against another top runner in that distance, Meriel Rowland of Hutchison. Meriel was the race in 10:57.02 and Zoe next with 10:58.87. These two Juniors made those 8 laps very exciting to watch!

In the girls hurdle races, White Station's Khari Webb came onto the scene with an impressive second place finish in the 100M with a photo finish of 15.36 and then came out to win the 300M Hurdles in a clearer final of 44.83. By the way, that 100M Hurdle race was very tight. Laylah Reese of Cabot High School won the race with her 15.36 and Kassidy Davis of White Station was right there as well with a 15.37. Khari is a freshman and Kassidy a sophomore. Looks like this hurdling duo is going to be a big point getter for the White Station team for many years to come.

White Stations Khari Webb seems to be a pretty decent high jumper as she also marked down another win, this time in the high jump (5-4).  Another field event that provided some excitement was the Triple Jump. Two Memphis Central juniors decided to go head-to-head here. Akira Simpson jumped 37-5 and her teammate, Keva Dunn right behind her with a 37-0.25 jump. That's pretty close for this event that used to be called the Hop, Skip and Jump!

And speaking of jumps. Memphis East's Alyssa Raymond set herself a new PR in the long jump with a booming 18-7.75 leap. That jump brought her to the top of the State rankings.

The girls throws had a few sophomores and juniors taking the lead. The Shot was captured by Sophomore from Bartlett (China Giaimo - 38-6) and Harding Academy sophomore Erica McGary (35-9.5). And the discus mark of 111-8 by Haywood's junior Alanna Perkins was just ahead of Erica's throw of 109-2. As a matter of fact, out of all the varsity girls throwing the discus at this meet, only four were seniors. And six for the varsity shot. I'm glad to see more younger athletes taking up the throws.

The last event at most Track & Field meets is the 4x400M Relay. That race can always be counted on as the exciting and even at times the deciding factor in a Track & Field meet. The Collierville girls decided they wanted to finish the meet with a really exciting race. Four legs down and they set a state best time of 4:00.47. That's a fast race and a heck of a way to finish a couple of days of Track & Field at the 2023 Houston Classic.

See you on the track,

Coach Ted