The morning started off with the boys pole vault competition and some occasional rain showers, but the meet rolled on and the weather cooperated after the midpoint in the day.
The top four finishers in each event automatically qualified for the state meet in Murfreesboro in two weeks.
HUTCHINS IMPRESSES WITH TWO BIG WINS
Science Hill freshman All-American Jenna Hutchins continued a storybook season with individual titles in the 1,600 and 800 meters. In the first race of the day, she was able to drop a 68-second final lap and a 33-second last 200 meters to beat out Dobyns-Bennett junior Sasha Neglia with a final time of 4:55.44.
Neglia finished second in 4:57.12.
Perhaps the race of the day, however, was in the 800 when she beat a 35-year-old meet record — and stadium record set by Rebecca Story in 2017 of 2:14.34. Hutchins’ time was a blistering 2:13.88. That time ranks amongst the top 10 in the country for freshman in the 800.
JONES GETS A PAIR OF SILVER MEDALS
Science Hill senior runner Jeb Jones picked a pair of runner-up finishes in both the 1,600 and 800 to Knox Catholic’s Jake Renfree, who was the Foot Locker Cross Country national runner-up in the fall.
The longer distance race was a bit tactical and Jones finished in a modest 4:29.99.
His 800 was much better as he negative split the race (57.8 and then 57.1) for a time of 1:55.03.
“I felt pretty good. I ran the mile just to place and saved some for the 800,” Jones said. “I did great and I felt like I can go faster. I think I can get the school record, which I think is 1:54.3. … I just went out on the back of Jake and I felt comfortable there. I tried to pass him in the turn, but he pulled back ahead in the straight and I couldn’t catch him. He’s so fast.”
COWAN CONQUERS THREE EVENTS
Sullivan South sophomore sensation Madison Cowan qualified for the state meet in three events, winning the long jump in a new season best of 17-10.5 and placing second in the triple jump (36-0.25) and tying for second in the high jump (5-2).
She won’t have to mix in the hurdles in a few weeks, allowing her to focus more on the field events.
“It’s really exciting getting to qualify in all three,” she said. “I was worried about the weather affecting my jumping, but it turned out to be really good.”
RUSSELL QUALIFIES AT LAST
Cherokee’s Harper Russell has been agonizingly close to qualifying for the state meet in track several times. Saturday was finally her day to shine.
She finished in fourth place in the 800 and had a massive personal best (by three seconds), finishing in 2:16.70.
“It feels like a lot of hard work has finally paid off and I just want to give God all the glory,” Russell said. “I wasn’t even paying attention to the clock. I just told myself to go out there and race. … I’m so grateful to race against all these great girls. I always come into track season a little bit behind and I’ve really made the 800 my event in high school. I’m so glad all this hard work has finally paid off.”
OTHER QUALIFIERS FOR THE GIRLS
Volunteer’s Ashley Salyers had a personal best in the triple jump of 35-5.5 and finished third.
In other girls field events, Mary Reed (Science Hill) finished third in the long jump (17-0), Jasmine Roberts (Elizabethton) was runner-up in the shot put (37-8.75), and Halie Hawkins (Unicoi County) and Caitlin Cutshall (Daniel Boone) were second and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault, both clearing 10 feet.
Katie Biggs (Cherokee) was fourth in the discus.
In the running events, D-B’s Neglia (first in 10:35.70) and Emma Russum (fourth in 11:18.38) both qualified.
Cherokee’s Mataylin Goins came back strong in the 300 hurdles, finishing second in 46.52 after false-starting in the 100 hurdles, drawing an automatic DQ.
In the relays, D-B qualified in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x800. Science Hill qualified in the 4x400 with a lean at the line for third by Reed.
OTHER QUALIFIERS FOR THE BOYS
Starting with the boys field events, D-B’s Samuel Cleek and Boone’s Devin Mckenna qualified by placing third and fourth in the pole vault, respectively. They both cleared 13-6.
Boone’s Jeremiah Sullivan finished runner-up in the discus (150-11), which broke his own school record from two weeks ago.
Cleek and Tanner Henry of D-B both qualified in the high jump, clearing 6-2 and 6-0 respectively. Henry and Aziz Dunn also qualified in the triple jump as third and fourth.
Science Hill’s Ekeminiabasi Eno-Ekefre was runner-up to Tennessee High’s Jayden Keller.
D-B’s Cade Salyers was runner-up in the shot put with a heave of 49-0.25.
In the running events, Jeamy Williams (D-B) qualified in the 200 and 400 dashes, both as surprise runner-ups. Dunn also qualified in the 200 as third.
Science Hill’s Aaron Jones was third in the 3,200 in 9:48.16 and Connor Morgan was runner-up in the 300 hurdles for the Hilltoppers in 40.68.
Both D-B and science Hill qualified in the 4x200 and were the only relays to qualify.