KINGSPORT — It’s time to get down to business.
The 35th Times-News Relays gets under way this afternoon at Sullivan North. Field events start at 4 p.m. followed by the running finals at 6.
Only the best performers from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia gain entry into the meet. To qualify, athletes must be among the top nine from the season-long Times-News Checklist.
While it seems hard to imagine topping last year’s performances when four meet records were set, there are several events tonight that could potentially end up being record breakers.
Defending champion Nik Huffman returns to see if he can best his meet record throw of 181-1 in the 2012 Times-News discus. He also won last year’s shot put with a toss of 53-11.
Huffman, who is the VHSL Group A defending champion in both throws, enters today’s competition as the Times-News’ No. 1 qualifier in both the discus (179-7) and shot (56-4).
On the girls side, the night’s top race could come in the 1600 meters. The top two qualifiers, Emily Williams from Sullivan Central and Molly Foster of Science Hill, will go head-to-head in a showdown that puts the current meet record in jeopardy.
Williams has the top qualifying time of 5:03.16 with Foster right behind at 5:07.19.
The girls 1600m record is 5:05.80 set by Virginia High’s Maria Large in 1981.
Tennessee High’s Ashlee Mitchell, the defending TSSAA state shot put champion, returns to try and repeat her wins in both the shot and discus last year. She has a season best 39-8½ in the shot and 116-11 in the discus.
Other returning Times-News girls champions include Tennessee High’s Samantha Gudger in the high jump and Dobyns-Bennett’s Mercedes Bright in the 400m.
Science Hill’s Hunter Boone is the defending champion in the boys triple jump and comes into the meet as the No. 1 qualifier in the triple (45-4¼) and long jump (21-3).
Volunteer’s Sam Barton won both the 110m and 300m hurdles last year and again is listed as the man to beat. He has season-best times of 14.85 in the 110s and 39.00 in the 300s.
D-B’s Malik Foreman, who has been injured the last few weeks, will defend his title in the 100m.
Thomas Walker’s Tyler Scott returns as defending champ in the high jump with Greeneville’s Simeon Roberts back to defend his crown in the boys 800m.
Defending champ Wes Pectol from Greeneville is also scheduled to compete in the 3200.
All in all, it looks like another great night of competition.
When you bring together the best track and field athletes from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia you should expect nothing less.