Bishop, Vasquez, Barnett, Killough among stars to watch

Pat Kenney • Apr 12, 2007 at 9:27 AM

With the 2007 track and field season upon us, there is no shortage of excitement to go around. Outstanding performers from both Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia abound with several state champions back to defend their crowns.

Leading the list is the much-decorated Ashton Bishop, a senior at Gate City.

Last season, Bishop won VHSL Group A championships in the 100-meter hurdles (15.19), 300-meter hurdles (46.59) and high jump (5-5). She also garnered a second-place finish in the 800 meters (2:24.50) - a race run immediately after Bishop finished the grueling 300 hurdles.

Sullivan Central's Courtney Barnett returns for her senior campaign looking to defend her Tennessee Class AAA discus crown. She won last year with a toss of 119-7.

With state titles in the event in her first two years in the Class AA meet, Barnett is seeking an unprecedented fourth discus crown in a row. She also finished second last year at state in the shot put (37-3¼).

The Science Hill Lady Hilltoppers return the nucleus of their state championship 4x100-meter relay team, which won in a time of 48.18. They also finished second at state in both the 4x400-meter relay (3:57.19) and the 4x800-meter relay (9:45.22).

J.J. Kelly senior Brittany Killough looks to improve on her third-place finishes at the VHSL state meet in both the 1,600 (5:16.86) and 3,200 (11:35.57).

Elizabethton junior Justin Fuqua brought back gold from the TSSAA Class A-AA meet with his victory in the 300-meter hurdles (39.35).

And Dobyns-Bennett's Josh Vasquez is on the rise, seeking to improve on his sixth-place finish (9:47.9) in the Class AAA 3,200-meter run.

The 29th running of the Times-News Relays will be held on Friday, May 4, once again at Sullivan North High School.

Here are capsules on area teams that responded to requests for preview information:



Coach: Bob Bingham


2006 highlights: Indians won the Big 9 Conference title; Josh Vasquez finished fourth at state in 3,200 meters.

Top returning athletes: Distance - Vasquez, J.D. Hubman, Drew Lattier, Cory O'Neil; sprints - Robert Hogg, Lane Dukart, Adrian Sensabaugh; hurdles - Zach Kramer; throws - Trevor Salyer, Andrew Pappas; vaulters - Brandon Lawson; jumps - Hogg, Dukart

Top newcomers: Kevin Kaye, distance; Mo Fugate, sprints, jumps

Outlook: Vasquez and Lawson lead a deep and talented Indians squad, helping to make D-B one of the area's best.


2006 highlights: Lady Indians qualified all three sprint relay teams for state meet; Brit Brewster finished fifth in state pole vault.

Top returning athletes: Sprints/jumps - Darah Karst, Tori Head, Abbie Cooper, Mariah Maxwell, Olivia Lawniczak; vaulters/hurdlers - Brewster, Paige Brogden, Ginny Browning

Top newcomers: Laura Lovelace (transfer), distance; Blaine Frohlich, high jump, shot, discus

Outlook: The Lady Indians are deep in the sprints and the pole vault. That alone makes them one of the top teams in Northeast Tennessee.


Coach: Mark Dingus


2006 highlights: Logan Kemp (high jump) and Brett Barger (800m) qualified for regionals

Top returning athletes: Sprints/jumps - Kemp, Josh Utsman, Robert Herring, Patrick Albright, Josh Hayes, Andrew Worley, Chance Graham; distance - Aaron Longworth, Jack Salyer, Josh Salyer; hurdles - Graham; throws - Cody Likens

Top newcomers: Benjie Farmer, sprints, 400m

Outlook: Though the Cougars have depth, they lack experience in several key spots.


2006 highlights: Courtney Barnett, state champ in discus, second in state shot put.

Top returning athletes: Throws - Barnett; distance - Katye Stone, Keely Hilton, Jessica Coffey; sprints - Autumn Messer, Rachel Bays, Jessica Jones, Kayla Monroe

Top newcomers: Briana Cox, sprints, hurdles, jumps

Outlook: The Lady Cougars are young and inexperienced, though they do have good numbers.


Coach: Jackie Dingus


2006 highlights: Rebels finished third in Big 9 Conference and advanced the 4x400m relay, a pole vaulter and an 800m runner to the state meet.

Top returning athletes: Distance - Patrick Roberts, Nathan Wooden, Billy Hadden, Noah Poor; sprints - Houston Martin, Matthew Crowe; throws/hurdles - Jacob McCann

Top newcomers: Curt Phillips, sprints; Seth Watterson, hurdles; Jonathan Clemens, sprints; Matt Fickey, sprints

Outlook: Dingus' Rebels have good senior leadership and strength among their newcomers.


Top returning athletes: Hurdles - Amanda Patterson; distance - Elaine Hitch, Carly Bishop

Top newcomers: Shelley Negrotto, high jump, sprints; Casey Solt, jumps, sprints; Catherine Nanney, distance; Kindra Kitzmiller, jumps, sprints

Outlook: The Lady Rebels have doubled the size of their squad and are encouraged by the return of some talented juniors and the incoming freshmen.


Coach: Randy Irvin


2006 highlights: Vikings were second in the Big 9 and won the Mountain Lakes championship; Michael Bunche finished eighth in the state 100m.

Top returning athletes: Sprints - Dakota Fisher, John Howard, Mitchell Felix, Darryl Wilson, Matt Pendleton, Keenan Shepherd; middle distance - Corey Miles, Tyler Stanley; distance - Justin Humphreys; hurdles - Chris Moore (defending Big 9 champ); jumps - Eric Keller, Marcus Canty; throws - Rees Burt

Outlook: Graduation cost the Vikings nine seniors, including three state meet qualifiers. Quality performers remain, but depth will be an issue.


2006 highlights: Third in Big 9 meet; Brittney Trigg second in the state in the 300m hurdles.

Top returning athletes: Distance - Lili Zaldana, Carrie Haaser, Carina Cobota; sprints/field events - Frances Armstrong, Emily Morin; throws - Whitley Hounchell

Outlook: Trigg qualified for the state meet in four events last year. Her loss will be felt by the young Lady Vikings.



Coach: John Hyatt

2006 highlights: Big 9 Conference champion; Region 1 runner-up; third in the state; 4x100m state champ, 4x400 and 4x800 relay runners-up.

Top returning athletes: Middle/distance - Rachel Bowers, Allie Scalf, Kelsey Kind, Kara Szaflarski; sprints - Emma Bowers, Hannah Bowers; jumps/hurdles - Keisha Phillips, Edwina Morris; throws - Jasmine Foster

Top newcomer: Kayla Kuziola, distance/hurdles

Outlook: With improved field events, the Lady Hilltoppers will once again be a top competitor in Northeast Tennessee.


Coach: Len Jeffers


Top returning athletes: Jumps - Jordan Osborne, Jonathon Morris; distance - Justin Little, Adam Ketron; sprints - Ricky Carter, Larry Martin; throws - Levi Becklhimer

Top newcomers: Chris Winkle, jumps; Andrew Price, distance; Lance White, distance; Austin Shelton, sprints/jumps


Top returning athletes: Sprints - Shawna Austin, Elizabeth, Shipley, Holly Everheart; hurdles - Jessica Edwards; distance - Mattea Moore

Top newcomers: Courtney Killebrew, throws; Katie smith, sprints; Jenna Venters, jumps; Chelsea France, jumps; Danielle Mitchell, distance; Sarah Taylor, distance; Chelsea Burkett, distance



Coach: Mike O'Neill

2006 highlights: Bo Dykes won Big 9 Conference 110-meter hurdles crown

Top returning athletes: Hurdles/jumps - Bo Dykes; distance - Mykal Miller, Jr.; sprints - Michael Lopez

Top newcomers: Cruz Russell, middle distance

Outlook: The Falcons are young but have potential. Look for them to be better as the season progresses.


Coach: Claudette Sivert

Top returning athletes: Hurdles/sprints - Brandy Barton, Kristen Brooks, Carrie Newton, Cynthia Lawson; distance - Joran Britton, Tiffany Castle, Rebecca Langston; jumps - Amanda Ondayog; throws - Taylor Dickerson, Tabitha Moore, Tara Moore, Shanque Price

Top newcomers: Angela Johnson, hurdles; Carson Necessary, distance; Kim Dishner, sprints, Summer Dalton, sprints

Outlook: The Lady Falcons' numbers are on the rise and they are looking to be improved this season.



Coach: Sherman Starnes

Top returning athletes: Jumps - Ken McGee; distance - Derek France, Brandon Hawkins; sprints - Chris Cook

Outlook: The Pioneers are working hard to move up to the middle of the pack.


Coach: Roger Hill

Top returning athletes: Sprints - Brandy Gillespie, Anna Smith, Alecia Robinson; middle/distance - Erika Penix, Erika Parker, Kristy Moore; throws - Christian Stephens

Top newcomers: Lauren Murr, throws; Tiffany Hughes, throws

Outlook: The Lady Pioneers have a lot of new blood on the team this season. Their goal is to gain experience and be competitive.


Coach: Tim Thomas

2006 highlights: Lonesome Pine District runner-up

Top returning athletes: Throws - Brittany Dickenson, Emily Scott; hurdles - Kaley Callahan; jumps - Tessa Burton; middle/distance - Morgan Bolling, Lauren Fowler

Top newcomers: Tasha Trent, jumps, middle distance; Kelsey Clasby, sprints; Katrice Jones, sprints

Outlook: The Lady Vikings are optimistic about winning the LPD crown this year.


Coach: Phil Robbins

2006 highlights: Lonesome Pine and Region D champions

Top returning athletes: Hurdles - Stephen Mumpower (seventh in state 110's), Cedric Mitchell, Terrell Turner; jumps - Mitchell, Turner; sprints - Delmas Lawson; middle distance - Andrew Meador

Top newcomers: David Fannon, middle/distance; Myron Pinkston, jumps; Dakota Cantrell, 400m/relays

Outlook: The Vikings enter the season with solid experience and talent.


Coach: Rick Mumpower

2006 highlights: Adam Kiser LPD 400m champ and runner-up in Region D

Top returning athletes: Sprints/middle distance - Kiser, Morgan Ireson, Devin Brickey

Top newcomers: Bud Allen, distance; Saul Perez, throws

Outlook: The Bulldogs continue to improve.


Coach: Chris Sutphin

2006 highlights: Won Cumberland District crown for the third year in a row

Top returning athletes: Distance - Collin Skeen, Landon Smith; sprints/jumps - Adam Williams, Josh Dooley, Robbie Hawkins (also middle distance); throws - Jeff Taylor

Top newcomers: Chance Marsee, distance; Kyle Perkins, sprints/middle distance; Jesse Denson, throws

Outlook: The Pioneers will be gunning for a fourth consecutive district championship.


Coach: Kelli Mooney

2006 highlights: All-region honors for Jessica Hansel, Tessa Garrett, Jessica Ayers; Garrett earned all-state honors.

Top returning athletes: Throws - Tiffany Gibson, Jennifer Brockman; jumps/hurlles/distance - Hansel

Top newcomers: Amber Davis, jumps/hurdles; Charla Crumley, distance; Amy Carmony, distance

Outlook: The Lady Pioneers once again are taking aim at the Cumberland crown.


Coach: Bill Houseright

Top returning athletes: Sprints - Daniel Smith; distance - John Marshall, Cody May; throws - Chris Frazier

Outlook: While short on numbers, the Titans have some newcomers who could add depth as the season progresses.


Coach: Jenny Houseright

2006 highlights: Cumberland District champions; Region D runners-up.

Top returning athletes: Sprints/middle distance - Katie Lane, Hilary Meade, Whitney McConnell, Alisha Parks; hurdles/distance - Robyn Dougherty

Outlook: With five Lady Titans who competed in the state meet on the roster, Twin Springs continues to work hard to repeat as the district champion.


Coach: Ritchie Deel

2006 highlights: Seven Rebels qualified for the Region D meet, with three advancing to state.

Top returning athletes: Sprints - Anthony Honaker, Adam Kiser (also, relays, jumps, throws), Evan McCowan (also, relays, jumps); throws - Travis Mott

Top newcomers: Toby Garrett, high jump; James Kiser, throws; Shaun Meade, relays; Ryan Milgrim, throws; Luke Rasnick, high jump; Adam Rose, throws; Joey Sykes, hurdles; Tyler Meade, distance

Outlook: The Rebels should excel in field events and sprints, and also should have a very competitive 4x100-meter relay team.


Coach: Karen Martin

2006 highlights: Lady Rebels qualified two athletes for the region and state meets

Top returning athletes: Sprints - Danielle Bond; throws - Sarah McCoy, Ashley Stevens

Top newcomers: Kelly Rasnick, sprints, 400m, throws; Autumn Bond, high jump, relays; Emma Spangler, distance; Amy Large, distance; Dana Deel, hurdles

Outlook: The Lady Rebels have a very strong freshman class that should add much-needed depth to the squad.

ST. PAULGirlsCoach: John Davis2006 highlights: Lady Deacons finished second in Cumberland District.Top returning athletes: High jump - Chelsea Arrington; hurdles/sprints - Lauren Dean, Courtney EvansOutlook: With an increase in numbers, the Lady Deacons could again challenge for the Cumberland crown.

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