An outstanding individual effort by Zach Johnson helped propel Sullivan South to the boys’ team crown, while Sullivan East claimed the girls’ title by winning the final event of the day.
View the photo gallery from the meet
Johnson was named the meet’s outstanding male runner. He won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs, and was part of the Rebels’ victorious 4x800 relay team. Add it up, and he helped account for 40 of his team’s meet-best 169 points. Johnson stayed on the move, even between races. After winning the 800, he promptly jogged up into the stands to talk to someone, seemingly without even stopping to catch his breath.
“Those races were so close together, I just didn’t want to sit down, because I knew if I sat down, I wasn’t going to get back up,” Johnson said.
Sullivan East’s Hunter Eads was named the top boys’ field performer. Eads swept both the shot put (46-7) and discus (120-4) but has bigger goals in mind.
“I was really hoping I would make state last year,” said Eads, who also tops the Tricitiessports.com Relays Checklist in both throwing events. “It kind of set me back. This year I’ve been working really hard trying to get to state.”
Another Tricitiessports.com Relays mainstay, Stephanie Wisse, turned in a dominant performance. The Unicoi County senior and Milligan-bound sprinter won all four events in which she participated: the 100, 200, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Wisse will try to become the first three-time outstanding female runner in the history of the Tricitiessports meet in a couple of weeks. She has some other matters on her agenda as well.
“Next week I’m competing in the pentathlon, which hopefully will bring me to Murfreesboro” for the state meet, Wisse said.
Three-peating at the Tricitiessports meet won’t come easy thanks to Elizabethton senior Heather Feuchtenberger, who claimed conference victories in the 400, 800 and 1,600 on Thursday and finished second to Wisse in the 200.
“That’s what we predicted I would do,” Feuchtenberger said of her finishes. “But today was really all about team points — playing it tactically and safe.”
That approach led to a jampacked set of team standings heading into the final event, the 4x400 relay. At that stage, East, South and Elizabethton’s girls all were separated by just four points in the team standings. The Lady Patriots vaulted to the top of the heap, with Alyssa Hare, Rebecca Glover, Paxton Adkins and Katie Anderson combining on a 4:29.47 performance to give East the hardware.
“Our 400 group’s been strong for our girls all year,” East coach Ryan Williamson said. “It came down to the 4x4, and we were really confident in our ability to close the race out. We did exactly what we expected to do and ran well to close the race out, and actually ran our best time all year.”
That actually was the only individual event victory by East’s girls, but consistent solid finishes kept the Lady Patriots right in the thick of contention heading into the 4x400.
“We knew we had good depth all across the board,” Williamson said. “We knew that just nickle and dimeing those points together could work and, to be able to come out on top, it’s great.”
South’s boys got a pair of wins from Ethan Ward, who swept the 110 and 300 hurdles. Ward actually topped a 1-2-3 sweep by the Rebels in the high hurdles.
“That’s awesome,” Ward said when informed of the sweep in the 110s. “We’ve been trying to get our times down every meet. That was pretty cool.”
South coach John Wooten also praised the performances of distance runner Caleb Vaughn and sprinters Julian Reed and Dustin Ford in helping the Rebels claim the team title. Wooten also noted the increased leadership shown by Johnson after Tyler Youngblood, a top 10 finisher in the state cross country meet last fall, graduated high school early to attend a church mission.
Elizabethton’s Jasmine Roberts took the top female field performer award after sweeping the shot put and discus.
South sophomore Tiffany Corby claimed the long jump and ran a leg on the Lady Rebels’ victorious 4x200 relay team.
“I’ve been working [long jump] since eighth grade year … to win the conference, it was just a relief,” she said. “I was so happy. I have no words to explain it.”
South’s girls also won the 4x100 relay, while Olivia Kent claimed the conference crown in the high jump. Other individual winners for the Lady Cyclones included Amber King in the triple jump and Lauren Pilkton in the 3,200.
Austin Outland swept the 100 and 200 for Elizabethton’s boys. East’s DeShaun Hill and Trey Lowe claimed first place in the 400 and long jump respectively. Kai Norman captured the triple jump title for Happy Valley.