Bryce Barrett and Jordan Jeffers each broke a meet record in the latest incarnation of the event, held Friday at Kermit Tipton Stadium, and tallied three of eight event victories by the Indians in the annual showcase meet that matches the best of the best across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
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Barrett, who set the record in the 400 meters and also won the 100, was named the meet’s outstanding male runner. Jeffers, who became the meet record holder in the triple jump, received the award for most outstanding male field performer. In what was believed to be a first in Relays history, Unicoi County’s Stephanie Wisse took the outstanding female runner award for a second straight year. The outstanding female field performer award went to Marion’s Callee Cox.
This year, all four individual awards were named for Pat Kenney, the current Times-News executive sports editor and director of the Relays for the past quarter-century.
Barrett also set a personal record in the 400 (48.72), surpassing the standing mark of 49.25 set by former Indian Bryce Ailshie two years ago. Barrett’s name enters the Relays record book alongside another D-B great, Teddy Gaines, who holds the hand-held 400 record (48.2).
“It’s always great to follow the steps of one of the real legends around the area,” Barrett said of Gaines. “He left a real good example for me to follow. I just try to do it justice.”
Barrett, who won the 100 in 11.14 seconds, is wrapping up his junior year at D-B and starting to garner some Division I attention for both track and football.
“To be able to run at the level that I’m able to, I’m really blessed and really excited,” he said.
Jeffers ran and jumped his way into the record book in the triple, tallying a leap of 46-9½ to surpass the mark set last year by teammate Alijah Dunn, who had a shot at defending his record but finished second to Jeffers. Dunn tallied the early best jump and came within a hair of matching his standing meet record of 46-¾, but Jeffers responded by surpassing 46-3, then one-upped that leap. Dunn actually had a jump of more than 47 feet but barely scratched.
“It means a lot,” said Jeffers, who also holds the school mark. “I’ve got more records this year than ever since I’ve ran track.”
Aside from a victory by Natalie Donahue (9-0) in the pole vault, relays teams accounted for the rest of the Tribe wins. The boys’ 200 relay (1:30.57) prevailed in one of the evening’s closest races, with Devarias Evans out-nodding Science Hill’s anchor runner. Edward Newcomb, Jeamy Williams and Dunn teamed with Evans. On the girls’ side, Sydney Breeding and Makayela Fullen were part of three victorious relay teams. They paired with Megan Davis and Katerina Scott in the 800 (10:01.57), and teamed with Erica Stone and Kelsey Bailey in both the 4x200 (1:48.44) and 4x400 (4:08.02).
A very surprised Cox claimed the female field award after winning the long jump (16-10½) and finishing second in the high jump.
“When they called my name out I was like, ‘Who, me?’ ” she said with a laugh.
Later in the evening, Cox also won the 300 hurdles (49.53).
“I just started running 300 hurdles this year, and learning something new was great for me,” Cox said.
Wisse won the girls’ 100 (12.52) at the Relays for the second straight year, and this time placed second in both the 100 hurdles and the 200. Her feat was made more impressive by the fact that the hurdles and 100 were held back to back.
“I’ve worked really hard,” said Wisse, who also won the girls’ triple jump (34-3 ¼).
Wisse wasn’t the only repeat winner. Gate City’s Jordan Houseright (39-3) won the girls’ shot put for a second consecutive year. Science Hill’s Halle Hausman (5:14.92) and Lydia Lee (11:22.88) repeated in the 1,600 and 3,200, respectively.
West Greene’s Kacie Ray won the discus (131-4) but fell short in her bid to take down the meet record of 134-0 set by Elizabethton’s Angie Barker in 1985. Autumn Thomas, the younger sister of former Elizabethton star running back Ethan Thomas, won the 200 (26.12). Thomas’ teammate Heather Feuchtenberger prevailed in the 800 (2:22.7). Tennessee High’s Kassidy Morton (57.39) dominated in the 400, finishing more than four seconds ahead of her closest competitor. Addisyn Rowe of David Crockett lived up to her billing as the top qualifier in the high jump, winning that event (5-2). Union’s Kalea Clark took the 100 hurdles (15.62).
Volunteer dashed to victory in the girls’ 4x100 (51.41), with Tianna Poirier, Morgan Salyers, Kayle Gibson and Whitney Christian pooling their efforts.
Daniel Boone distance specialist Josh Routh joined Barrett as a multi-winner in the boys’ track events. Routh won the 1,600 (4:12.26) then came back less than an hour later and won the 800 in 1:54.76, less than a second off the 40-year-old meet record of 1:54.0 set by Chuck Brown of Sullivan East.
Routh said that “definitely the 1,600” was his best performance of the night, adding, “I ran a pretty big PR in that. Feel like I ran that pretty strong.”
Alex Davenport of Patrick Henry won two events, taking the 110 hurdles (14.80) and the long jump (21-1). Teammate Connor Buchanan took the 200 (22.98) in a race decided by a hundredeth of a second. They weren’t the only Southwest Virginian male athletes to win gold at these Relays. Abingdon scored surprising wins in both the 4x800 (8:21.84) and 4x100 (44.16) after qualifying fourth and fifth, respectively, in those events.
“We knew we were good but that kind of surprised us,” Abingdon coach Andrew DeCoster said of his team’s win — and time — in the 4x800.
Fellow Falcon Justin Fannon won the shot put (47-0) and Karl Thiessen — part of that winning 4x800 team — took the 3,200 run (9:46.46). Daniel England of Wise Central prevailed in the discus (145-4).
Host school Science Hill added to its haul with Noah Charles taking the 300 hurdles (41.54) and combining with Tate Overbay, Alex Crigger and Nate Jackson to win the 4x400 in the final event of the night.
Boone’s Noah Shelton (5-2) won the boys’ high jump, with Salter Blowers of University High winning the pole vault (13-0).