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Sports High schools

Boone looking for more relay success

March 27th, 2014 9:03 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Daniel Boone will be hard pressed to repeat the performance of its 4x800 boys’ relay team at last season’s TSSAA track and field state championships, although head coach Len Jeffers would be happy to get the same result.

The baton was knocked from Chad Whitehead’s hand at the start of last year’s championship race and he had to go back five yards to pick it up. With a determined effort, he overcame the bungled start and was seventh by the end of his first leg.

Ashton Wilson took over the next leg and moved to second place before Adam Barnard moved side-by-side with the leader heading into the final leg. From there, anchor Jordan Roth raced ahead for a 7:57 finish and a state championship.

With Barnard and Wilson back, along with cross-county standouts James Garst and Josh Routh, there’s a good chance the Trailblazers could have another state championship performance.

They are the leaders of a distance group which also includes Mitch Bronstetter, Nick Roth, Ben Varghese and Alex Lewis. While the ’Blazers are known for their tradition-rich distance program with back-to-back state runner-up finishes in cross country, they could also threaten in the boys’ high jump where all-state performer Christian Stumpf has already cleared 6-foot-6 this season.

Stumpf is also part of a 4x200 relay team along with Steven Carr, Bryan Langan and Andrew Myers, which recently broke a 35-year-old school record.

Other sprinters who could star for Boone are senior Jared Phillips, who has been hampered by an injury and Moulin Tannous.

David Merriken, a good all-around performer in the 110 hurdles, discus and pole vault, is a threat to win the decathlon, and Caleb Ruff is another top hurdler. Boone has a chance to score in the throws with Noah Lewis and Reece Langan in the shot put, and Eli Buck and Chase Royston in the discus.

On the girls’ side, Grayson Loyd and Makayla Shaw are the top distance runners.

Shelby Ramsey, Holly Moore, Lora Qualls, Cassidy Campbell head up the sprints, while Jessie Siegel, Edina Manley, Sarah Jones are top hurdlers.

Abby Howe leads Boone in the pole vault, while throwers include Alora Crain, Elizabeth Arwood, and Rebecca Arwood.

Science Hill

The 4x800 also appears to be the event which the Hilltoppers stand the best chance of winning at the state level, although it’s on the girls’ side.

Sarah Fickley, Katie Lance, Alicia DeVos and Halle Hausman form a formidable quartet for coach Jennifer Brockett’s team. In addition, the group with Michaela Moody substituting for Lance, recently came within 10 seconds of the school record in the Distance Medley Relay.

The Lady ’Toppers have a definite contender in the 100-meter dash with Cleo Mellish, while Aliyah Brown, Arabia Short and Sahsa Chen will be some of her relay partners. Mandy Stallard specializes in the high and low hurdles, while top throwers include Jasmine Bray, Amanda Bennett (discus) and Leann Scharberg (shot put).

Annika Burley, the younger sister of ETSU star Lexi Burley, specializes in the triple jump, while Stacey Reed should be a contender in both the triple jump and long jump. Julia Price is the highest-ranked leaper in the high jump.

Others looking to get big air are Savannah Hirst and Harriet Rollins in the pole vault. 

The boys’ squad is led by Bradley Tongco in the mile and Alex Crigger in the 3,200. Elijah Mathes heads up a group of sprinters with plans for him to run in the 100, 200 and 400. Other strong sprinters are: Abe Ziha, Timothy Dulaney, Brandon Bennett, Jonathan Spitznas and Christian McGee.

In the field events, Christian Tipton, Brandon Buck and Garrett Butcher comprise a trio of talented throwers.

Science Hill also looks to build off a strong tradition in the jumps, which included Hunter Boone winning the state triple jump last season.

Trey Westmoreland, Trey Sutton, Khiry Halim and Mathes are some of the jumpers, while pole vaulters include Jacob Laughlin, Alex Doyle and Taylor Torbett.

David Crockett

The Pioneers have two distance runners, Tucker Ayers and Luke Stelter, whom coach Candice Bolus has high expectations for. Ayers made it to the sectionals last year in the 1,600 and 3,200 and has sights on qualifying for the state meet this season. Chris Adams and Taylor Bryant (also a long jumper and triple jumper) lead the sprinters, while Toby Rupert has shown promise after coming out from football.

On the girls’ side, Ashley Ervin has a good kick in the 100, 200 and 400. She is also competing in the long jump. Senior Mackenzie Moore in the distance events and sophomore Tiny Shipley in the hurdles are expected to score points for the Lady Pioneers. Daniela Palomino is a freshman with a lot of promise. She has already thrown over 88 feet in the discus this season.


Katie May and Mandi Largent are expected to lead the Lady Cyclones after leading the 4x200 relay team to a third-place finish at the state meet last season.

May recently won the 400 and triple jump at the Greeneville Early Bird Invitational and also finished second in the 100 hurdles. Autumn Thomas was a top finisher in the 100 dash, while Hayley Keylon won the 800 at last year’s Three Rivers Conference meet.

As a team, both Elizabethton’s boys and girls look to defend conference titles .

Ethan Thomas leads the way for the boys winning a trifecta of 100, 200 and long jump titles at the Early Bird. Stewart Clark won the 400 race, while other top performances included Christian Glover in the 200 and long jump, Cody Baker in the 400, and Brad Kelley in the 300 hurdles.

University High

Two-time state champion pole vaulter Devon Wade has graduated, but there appears to be little drop off in the event for the Junior Bucs.

Sophomore Jarod Smith has already cleared 13-feet-2, and is expected to match Wade’s 14-feet effort by the end of the season.

University High, which earned the regional title in cross country, has Tanner Smith, Levi Carter and Zach Branham among its top distance runners.

Grace Owen has turned some heads on the girls’ side, already going 30-feet-10 in the triple jump. She is also one of UH’s best sprinters.

Happy Valley

Kaitlyn Simerly, an all-state performer in the pole vault, should be a state contender again as should Timmy Morris on the boys’ side.

William Luster could be a contender in the 200 and triple jump, while M.J. Carmargo and Hunter Buchanan are some of the other top sprinters.

On the girls’side, Emily Matthes soared to the high jump victory at the Greeneville meet. Others who could make some noise for the Lady Warriors are Kylie Simerly in the sprints and Kaitlynn Kincer in the long jump and sprints.

Johnson County

The Longhorns have a larger squad than some years and J.R. Speed is the fastest on the team, running an 11.60 in the 100 last season.

Patrick South could be a solid contributor in the 200, while Kenneth Brown leads Johnson County in the middle distances.

For the girls, Stephanie Coffey races the shorter sprints with Victoria Israel in the 400. MacKenzie Bauer has fast times for the Lady ’Horns in both the 800 and 1,600.

Unicoi County

There are plenty of new names on the Blue Devils’ roster, although C.J. Wells is back after top performances in the hurdles and triple jump.

Senior Dustin Whitson also returns, while other seniors include Trevor Barry, Jesse Bocock, Bodhi Bradford, Cody Harris, Ryan Simmons and Thomas Tipton.

It’s all underclassmen on the girls’ side with junior Alex Edwards hoping to add to the Lady Devils’ strong tradition in the pole vault. She hit 8-feet her freshman year, while fellow junior Hannah Fender has been a jack-of-all-trades. She has been a competitor on the cross-country team and a sprinter for the track team.

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