Lady ’Toppers have good chance at another track title

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 4, 2013 at 7:49 PM

The Science Hill girls won a track and field state championship in 2009. Coach John Hyatt believes if the cards fall right, the Lady ’Toppers could be in position to do it again this season.

“We have a good shot at being in the top five in the state,” Hyatt said. “We have a lot of good distance runners, our sprinters have improved. All-in-all, we have a pretty solid girls team. We just have to keep on improving.

“If everybody could score in Murfreesboro, who knows? Then, you have a chance.”

It starts in the distance events with the senior duo of Molly Foster and Martha McCoy. Foster, who recently signed with Belmont, runs the 3,200, 1,600 and 800-meter races.

McCoy, who was Science Hill’s top runner for most of the cross country season, is similarly versatile, competing for the Lady ’Toppers in a host of races.

They combine with fellow senior Sarah Fickley and junior Alicia DeVos to give the Lady ’Toppers a formidable team in the 4x800 relay. Hannah Hausman also is in the mix, recently competing with Foster, McCoy and DeVos on the distance medley relay team.

Science Hill also has a pair of young ladies who could score big in the field events.

Jaleessa Kennedy, the younger sister of current Austin Peay thrower Jasmine Foster, is a triple threat in the shot put, triple jump and long jump. She has signed with Queens University in Charlotte.

To win the conference, district or state in one of the jumps she will have to get past talented teammate Stacey Reed.

“We’re really strong in the distance and field events,” Hyatt said. “We were ahead last year by 40 points the first night last year. We have to do better in the sprints, and finish in the top three in everything. Dobyns-Bennett is awfully good, but I feel we can give them a run.”

Senior Emanda Reid is the team’s top sprinter, while freshman Abby True and sophomore Makayla Moody both show promise in the 400.

Sophomore Savannah Hirst is tops in both the 100 and 300 hurdles. She is coming off a runner-up finish in the 100, and a third-place finish in the 300 at the recent Texas Roadhouse Relays. Hirst and senior Madison Beamer also finished second and third in the pole vault.

The competition on the boys’ side looks to be extremely close this year. Hyatt explained how five teams in the Big Eight Conference all bring different strengths to the table.

“I think we can finish in the top three,” Hyatt said. “But, Daniel Boone is awfully tough in the distance and Dobyns-Bennett is awfully strong in the sprints. We’re good in the field, while Tennessee High isn’t strong in one particular area, but they probably have the best overall team. Volunteer has a good group of boys this year too. It will be a dogfight to see where everybody finishes.”

Senior Hunter Boone, younger brother of current ETSU jumper Graham Boone, will lead the field events. He finished sixth in the state triple jump competition last year and is also a threat in the long jump.

Marc Aples, a high-flyer from the basketball program, also competes in the triple jump and is a definite threat to win the conference in the high jump.

Jacob Laughlin has the best effort of anyone in the pole vault. His ascent of 10-feet, 6-inches topped all efforts from the Big Eight Conference at the Texas Roadhouse meet.

Senior Justin Grant is the top thrower, recently surpassing 147 feet in the discus in front of a group of college coaches.

To win the league, the ’Toppers will obviously need to tally some points in the running events.

Senior Tre’ Webster is counted on to provide those in the 200, while fellow senior Fred Lam fills the gap in the 400 and 4x400 relay team. Sophomore Trey Sutton is another one with lots of promise, competing in the 300 hurdles and 200 sprint.

Senior Sterling Rollins tops the distance runners. He ran 2:08 at the Texas Roadhouse meet, but Hyatt feels he should be under the two-minute mark by the end of the season.

Science Hill doesn’t return to action until April 13. A week later will be a big test as 1,000 athletes from across the country are expected to compete in the Tri-Cities Classic at Kermit Tipton Stadium on April 19-20.

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