Hilltoppers jump for joy at JC Invitational meet

Jeff Birchfield • Mar 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Science Hill had double the fun in the triple jump at the second annual Johnson City Invitational track meet on Saturday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.

Hunter Boone won the boys’ version of the event with a leap of 43 feet and two inches. Stacey Reed gave the Hilltoppers a sweep of the event with a 33-91⁄2 effort in the girls’ competition.

Soon after their sweep of the triple jump, Hilltoppers added a boys’ and girls’ sweep in the 1,600. In the boys’ race, Davon Woodmancy and Sterling Rollins finished 1-2 for Science Hill, a feat matched on the girls’ side by Molly Foster and Martha McCoy.

“It was really great to get those sweeps,” Science Hill head coach John Hyatt said. “The distance runners have really come on. We struggled a little last week, but I think it was the first-meet jitters. We came on and showed a lot of heart in the distance.”

No one showed more heart than Foster who had a never-give-up attitude in the 800. As leader Hailey Middlebrook of Watauga, N.C. slowed at the finish, Foster sprinted to the line to win by a nose.

Scoring wins in a variety of events, the Hilltoppers were the definition of an all-around good program.

Other Science Hill victories included Aaron Greene winning by a paper-thin margin in the boys’ 400, Kaesha White throwing the discus for 90-9 and Jessica Norris clearing 5-2 in the girls’ high jump. Brennon Nelson, who barely missed out in the 3,200 earlier in the day, used a late charge to win the boys’ 800.

“We won a few things we weren’t expecting to win, and we finished in the top three in almost the events,” Hyatt said. “That’s what you’ve got to do to get a good team score. We don’t have a lot of superstars, but it’s like the decathlon where we’re trying to be good in everything.”

Besides Foster, Elizabethton thrower Nikolai Simpson also doubled up in the win column.

The Cyclones’ all-state performer threw 46-31⁄4 in the shot put and followed it up with an effort of over 152 feet in the discus.

“I’m throwing much better than last year,” Simpson said. “I upped my weight a little bit and the throws are going farther. I’ve really improved in the discus, working on my technique and working in the weight room.”

Also for the Cyclones, Tori Cruz had the meet’s longest throw in the girls’ shot put and Abbi Pierce set a school record in the girls’ mile.

Whitley True put Unicoi County on the board earlier in the day with a victory in the girls’ 3,200.

In the college version of the meet, Tanner Payne gave Milligan College an early win in the men’s discus.

Gillian Giffen, who won Friday’s 5,000, led a quartet of Milligan runners in the women’s 1,500. She broke the five-minute barrier with a 4:57 effort. Christine McMahon was second, followed by McKenzie Patten and Danielle Mitchell.

The Buffs also had wins by Fitzroy Harris in the men’s 400, Shannon Wilson in the women’s 3,000 steeplechase and the men’s 4x400 relay team.

In addition, Yolanda Migoyo led start-to-finish in the women’s 800. She was happy to lead the entire race, although a part of her longed for closer competition.

“I wish someone would have been there to pace me because I think I went too fast on the first lap,” she said. “I haven’t run the 800 since my junior year in high school so I forgot how to run it a little bit. My first workout with the 800 was last week so I have to learn to pace myself again.”

Milligan head coach Chris Layne was pleased with his team’s efforts, but was even more pleased as one of the meet’s organizers. He was glad to see such a strong turnout on the high school side, which included Reid Harris of Watauga, N.C. clearing 15 feet in the boys’ pole vault.

“It’s our second year so we have to keep it in perspective, but we set a ton of meet records both collegiately and on the high school side,” Layne said. “This is a great venue and this meet should continue to grow. Milligan and Science Hill have a great working relationship, and the city has been so supportive of this event. We just have to keep working hard and we can continue to build this event.”

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