Heritage's Lauren Barnes leads the rest of the field down the backstretch in the first lap of the Girls 1600-meter run during Friday's TSSAA Class AAA Section 1 Track and Field Finals at Dobyns-Bennett. Photo by Kris Wilson.
KINGSPORT — Andrew Pickwell sizzled early in the track season. A midseason lull, at least by his supreme standards, followed.
He appears to have rediscovered his groove just in time for the state championships.
Pickwell punched his ticket back to Murfreesboro on Friday, a clearance of 6 feet, 6 inches easily claiming the boys’ high jump at the TSSAA Class AAA Section 1 track and field finals at Dobyns-Bennett.
Pickwell was the only entrant in a field of 18 to clear 6-4 — his bogey height of late. He cleared it on his final attempt.
“I was starting to worry,” said Pickwell, who finished second at last year’s TSSAA state track and field championships. “I guess practice does pay off.”
Freed from that pressure, the multisport athlete from Sullivan South began to leap with a little more swagger. His final attempt at 6-6 was good. At 6-8 he looked good as well — except the bar wouldn’t cooperate.
Pickwell wasn’t disappointed. He was off to Olive Garden to celebrate another trip to state.
“I wasn’t feeling too good, but apparently I was,” Pickwell said. “(My coaches) said I was getting pretty high above the bar. My first and second attempts at 6-8, I was clearing the bar, just dropping my form too fast.
“I feel like I can get 6-8 at state. I’m hoping to, especially with the talented competitors that should be there.”
John Davis of Tennessee High and Trey Hutchinson of Dobyns-Bennett also qualified in the high jump. Both cleared 6-2.
The top four in each event Friday secured berths in the state meet, which will be held May 26-28 at Middle Tennessee State University.
The D-B relay teams, both boys and girls, have been consistently good this season. That continued for the most part on Friday.
The girls advanced to the state meet in the 4x800- meter (9:53.68), the 4x200 (1:46.44) — behind a stellar anchor leg by Haley Phipps — and the 4x100 (49.73). As has been the case the past few seasons, new personal bests were established in both the 4x100 and 4x200.
A superb 4x800 display, in a time of 8:13.67, set the tone for the boys in the afternoon. The Indians will also be representing the school at state in the 4x100 (43.38). They just missed out in the 4x200 and 4x400.
“We’re pretty pleased,” D-B coach Bob Bingham said. “We had some good efforts. The kids that have produced for us every week have continued to do so today.
“This meet is all about getting people (to state). We’ve got a lot of people down there.”
Among the rest of the Indians who qualified: Olivia Loveless in the girls’ 800 (2:19.80); Chris Mcelroy in the boys’ 800 (1:58.97); Phipps in the girls’ 200 (26.29); and Cody Fuller in the boys’ shot (43-04).
Hurdler Seth Watterson joined Pickwell in securing a berth from South. He finished second in a superb 110 hurdles race (14.97).
Daniel Boone will be sending two athletes to Murfreesboro. Andrew Price rolled to victory in the 800 (1:57.84). Chris Winkle, meanwhile, added the pole vault to his state schedule.
Winkle, who also has qualified in the decathlon, cleared 13 feet to win the vault on misses. Not the finest day at the office — he has cleared 14-6 this season — but not bad for a half-fit vaulter.
“I’ve had an upper respiratory infection and I’m still trying to get well from that,” Winkle said. “I’m probably not even 70 percent.
“We had to wait so long with the girls. I was just baking in the sun. It was awful. I was almost out before I started.”
Lexie Burley advanced in two events, the long and triple jump. The Science Hill senior, fifth last year at state in the triple, broke the meet record in the event on Friday. Her jump (37-8½) eclipsed that of Kristin Truman (37-03), established a decade ago.
Jennifer Cannon of Tennessee High captured both the 100 and 300 hurdles titles. The sophomore also is a qualifier in the pentathlon.