Science Hill's Hunter Boone won the state triple jump championship. (Thomas Sellers/Millington Star)
comments powered by Disqus
MURFREESBORO — Incredible. A miracle.
Those were just a couple of messages received by Daniel Boone head coach Len Jeffers after his 4x800 relay team’s improbable win at Friday’s TSSAA Class AAA boys’ state track championships at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Trailblazers’ Chad Whitehead was bumped at the start of the race, sending the baton flying from his hand. He picked it up and charged to seventh-place, but still was beating himself up at the end of his leg.
“I thought I lost the state championship,” Whitehead said. “I turned around and the baton was five feet behind me. I was like, ‘Oh, no!’ I had to backtrack, get the baton and had to go as hard as I could to catch up with everybody.”
Then, Ashton Wilson charged to second and Adam Barnard pulled side-by-side with the leader at the end of the third leg. By the time anchor Jordan Roth hit the final turn, the Trailblazers were on their way to a most improbable victory. It left Jeffers wiping away tears after he ran the gamut of emotions.
Finishing in 7:57:42, they weren’t the only ones named Boone celebrating a state championship.
Hunter Boone of Science Hill outdistanced the competiton to win the triple jump. He leaped 46 feet, 71?4 inches to beat Malcolm Terry of Bright by just three and a half inches. Tre’ Webster of Science Hill finished 10th in the event.
“This means everything to me,” Boone said. “It means all the hard work paid off. The beginning of the year, I was focused more on technique, but towards the end of the year I was working more on my speed and sprints. That helped out a lot.”
He also earned bragging rights within his family.
His older brother Graham, now a jumper for ETSU, had a best finish of second at the state meet in the long jump.
“I feel proud of myself,” said Boone, sporting a sly grin. “I don’t know how he feels.”
There was absolutely no question how Daniel Boone’s relay team felt.
Wilson, who ran in the spot which Josh Routh did most of the season for Boone, described his leg which moved the ‘Blazers into position for the win.
“I haven’t run that many 800s, but I have been training hard,” Wilson said. “I just focused on what I needed to do. That last 250, I just sucked it up and went for it.”
Barnard edged even closer, side-by-side for most of his second lap.
“He had 20-30 meters on me at the start, but I was confident in my abilities to catch him,” Barnard said. “I feel as a team, we’re some of the smartest runners out here. We were behind Dobyns-Bennett about the same distance last week at the sectionals. I promised Jordan I would hand it off to him either first or as close I could be.”
Roth paced himself the first lap, then made a winning move to the outside on the backstretch of the final lap. Once in the lead, he wasn’t about to spoil the miracle comeback.
“I had raced those guys before and I knew I could outkick them,” Roth said. “I put on a surge and then when I got to 200 (meters to go), I gave it everything I had.
“When I crossed the finish line, it was pure exhilaration. We did it. I’m so proud of my team and what we accomplished.”
Beyond the winners, Justin Grant gave Science Hill a runner-up finish in the discus throw. His heave of 163-4 was only beaten by Brett Neelley of Gallatin who threw 167-7.
Unlike his teammate Boone or even the Boone relay team, virtually no one was talking about Grant as a state championship contender when the season started.
“I really stepped up this senior year and put everything together,” Grant said. “My expectations were just to get 150 my senior year. But, I improved a lot and did better than I expected. I wish I had another year.”
Beyond the relay team, Daniel Boone had other top-eight finishes.
Barnard was seventh (9:27) in the 3,200, Christian Stumpf cleared 6-feet-4 to finish eighth in the high jump and Roth finished fifth (1:57) in the 800.