BRISTOL, Tenn. — It’s been a cold track and field season up until now. But the competitive fires are finally heating up.
Saturday’s Frank Carver Invitational Track and Field Championships at Tennessee High foreshadowed rivalries between talented area athletes that could carry through the spring.
Even an ephemeral duel had meaningful effect.
Amber Church of Pulaski County, Va., who clocked a meet record 14.68 in the 100 hurdles and won the high jump at 5-2 on attempts, came within a half-inch of breaking the meet record in the long jump, which she won with a bound of the 16-8½.
Church, a nationally ranked pentathlete who’ll be a multiple-events performer at Radford University next year, is an 18-foot long jumper.
“There was a pretty strong headwind today and I’m hurt. But I was pretty happy with what I did today,” said Church, who dropped out of the 300 hurdles because of a strained quad.
Science Hill’s Lexie Burley, a dedicated jumper who’ll compete for East Tennessee State next fall, finished a discontented second in the long jump at 16-6½. Burley went on to log a meet-record 37-3½ in the triple jump, garnering the meet’s outstanding field events award.
“That was an incredible jump, taking the record by 2 feet,” said Science Hill coach John Hyatt. “She was a little irritated that she didn’t win the long, and she didn’t jump real well in the long. So I think that was probably a little extra incentive.”
Incentives abounded. Eurenna Semper of Tri-Cities Christian shook up the boys’ sprinters when he blasted off to win the 100 meters in 11.27 seconds.
“At first I didn’t think I was ready for it, but once I got into my stride I thought I was ready. I kept my head down and held on until I did what I came here to do,” said Semper, who put the Eagles on the map last year as a junior.
Semper’s finish line elation was a burr under somebody else’s saddle. Dobyns-Bennett’s Derrick Steele — who finished fifth in that field — redeemed himself with a winning 22.75 in the 200. Semper finished second at 22.93.
“I knew I just had to collect myself and run a good race in the 200,” Steele said. “It was my first time running against (Semper). He’s a good runner — he’s pretty fast, as you can see.”
D-B’s Chris McElroy garnered the outstanding boys runner award, taking the 1,600 in 4:36.39 and clocking a meet-record 2:00.10 in the 800.
McElroy clearly got pushed: Previous record-holder Andrew Price of Daniel Boone (2:00.95) and Science Hill’s Michael Mansy (2:01.09) both chased him to the finish line with times that eclipsed last year’s record.
D-B won the boys’ meet, getting a win in the high jump from Trey Hutchinson (6-4), another in the long jump from J.B. Huff (21-1½) and a meet-capping victory in the 4x100 relay from Blake Latture, Kevin Kay, Chris Sensabaugh and Wade Collins (3:37.30).
The Lady Indians collected wins from Cammie Brown (8-0) in the pole vault, from outstanding girls award winner Haley Phipps (26.26) in the 200, from Laura Loveless (5:32.49) in the 1,600 and from Olivia Loveless (2:24.83) in the 800.
Olivia Loveless joined April Thomas, Molly Smith and Sydney Collette for a leg of the winning 4x800 relay (10:26.93). Phipps and Collette teamed with Briana Russell and Thomas for a win in the 4x100 (51.47).
In other events, Science Hill’s Justin Harris was the top boys field performer with wins in the shot (45-10½) and discus. Teammate Graham Boone set a meet record in the triple jump (44-2) while fellow Hilltopper Marcus Johnson won the 300 hurdles (42.26).
Daniel Boone’s Christopher Winkle won the pole vault (13-0), and Lebanon’s Andrew Jessee took the 400 (53.42). Sullivan Central’s Megan McKamey won the girls shot put (31-6½) and Science Hill’s Molly Foster won the 1,600 (11:36.62).
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