BRISTOL, Tenn. — Two days of sensational competition produced one of the most exciting finishes at the Big 8 Conference track and field championships at Tennessee High.
Mercedes Bright became the first Dobyns-Bennett girl to win the 100 (12.61), 200 (25.73) and 400 meters (58.55) at the conference meet. Her stellar performance led the Lady Indians to a 218.5-182 win over Science Hill.
In the boys’ competition, Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone fought tooth and nail all day. Going into the meet’s final race, the 4x400 relay, the Indians held a slim three-point advantage.
With the outcome on the line, D-B won the event in a time of 3:33.27. The Trailblazers were fourth.
That finish left the Indians with a 169-161 advantage and the conference team title.
“We knew we’d have our work cut out for us today,” said D-B coach Bob Bingham. “Boone’s distance guys are so talented and so competitive, we had a lot to overcome.
“Our kids, both the boys and girls, really got the job done,” Bingham said. “There’s such good chemistry on both teams. The kids like each other and they are so much fun to coach.
“It was a fun meet and we feel good to have come out on top.”
Boone coach Len Jeffers knew his boys team gave its all.
“We threw everything we had at them,” Jeffers said. “But by the 4x400 we were spent. We patched together four guys to run it, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Bright was as happy about the Lady Indians’ team title as she was about her own spectacular day.
“My goal today was to win all three races,” Bright said. “Once I won the 100, I knew I had a chance to triple.
“As a team we were all focused on trying to win the team competition,” she added. “All the girls worked hard today.”
Sullivan Central’s Emily Williams continued to dominate the distance races. After having to sit out the 3,200 meters Thursday night because of blisters, she returned to action Friday and set a meet record of 5:03.16 in the 1,600.
That time broke the previous mark of 5:04.69 set by D-B’s Carla McCready in 1995.
Williams came back and won the 800 with a time of 2:21.74.
“There are so many amazing runners in these races that you can’t really plan, you just have to react,” she said. “It’s fun to have a group of girls all vying for the same thing.”
Williams’ withering kick proved to be the difference. Science Hill’s Molly Foster could attest to that, finishing second to Williams in both races.
“As soon as she passes you, you want to go with her, but it’s just so mentally draining,” said Foster, who broke her own meet record in winning the 3,200 (10:58.09) on Thursday. “I just couldn’t shake her early in the race and then she just takes off.”
Science Hill’s Cleo Mellish ran down D-B’s Sasha Morrisette in the final leg of the 4x100 relay to give the Lady Hilltoppers a win. The margin of victory was 50.20 to 50.24.
Volunteer’s Sam Barton won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles with his respective times of 15.09 and 39.92.
“Overall it was a good day,” Barton said. “These races are good practice for next week’s Times-News Relays and the upcoming sectionals.”
The Falcons’ Maliek Carpenter was another double winner, streaking to wins in the 100 (11.03) and 200 (22.43).
Volunteer’s Lady Falcons 4x200 relay team of Ariella Sutton, Alexis Berlin, Bree Cassidy and Kayle Gibson stunned the field with a winning time of 1:50.68.
D-B’s Adriana Watkins doubled up in the hurdles with personal best times of 15.25 in the 100s and 45.95 in the 300s.
“My goal is to break the school record in the 300s,” said Watkins, a junior. “I’m getting closer so maybe it will happen in the next couple of races. I just have to learn to finish stronger.”
D-B’s Seth Barger ran down the field over the final 40 meters to capture the 400 with his time of 50.40.
“I rested this week so I could come in here with fresh legs,” Barger said. “That gave me just enough at the end to get past those guys.”
Boone’s Jordan Roth edged D-B’s Bryce Ailshie 1:58.67 to 1:58.70 in a thrilling 800 meters.
In the day’s closest race, the Trailblazers’ Adam Barnard slipped past teammate Chad Whitehead to win the 1,600. Barnard’s time was 4:23.80 and Whitehead crossed the line in 4:23.81.