University High girls capture 4x800 state title

Jeff Birchfield • May 23, 2018 at 8:45 PM

MURFREESBORO - The University High girls came in Wednesday's TSSAA Small School state track and field championships as the No. 3 seed in the 4x800 meter relay.

The team of Ashley Daniel, Anna Bader, Ali Burns and Bekah Owen left the meet as state champions. They ran 10 minutes, 25 seconds, beating their previous best by 22 seconds.

"This year, everything is finally kicking in," Daniel said. "Getting up at 4:30 in the morning and going to the gym, hanging out with my girls, getting through it with my team, it's the best way to end the year."

With the finish line in sight, Owen hit a full stride over the final 100 meters.

"It felt so good," Owen said. "It's all the hard work coming together to an end. It was such a big victory."

Owen also finished fourth in the 800 and Burns was fourth in the 3,200. Porter Bradley and Nick Daniel, the younger sibling of Ashley, both made All-State in the boys' 3,200.


University High's Aidan Costello and Happy Valley's Natalie Newsome each posted runner-up finishes in the pole vault competition.

Costello's effort in the boys' competition came with its share of adversity.

He broke his pole at 10-feet and came back on a secondary pole he hadn't used in a month. He cleared on his first attempt after the break and went on to the second-place finish.

"That is extremely difficult to jump again after breaking a pole, even more difficult at the pressure cooker called the state meet," University High vault coach Alan Cox said. "Aidan showed tremendous fortitude in coming back from that break to earn second place. I am extremely proud of him."

Connor Ford tied a personal record and finished fifth. He missed out on third place by just one jump.

Newsome bested her previous best by a foot, clearing 8-feet. With the same number of misses, it forced a jump-off between her and Faith Julian of West Greene. Julian won by clearing the third attempt after Newsome missed.

"To get second, that was amazing," said Newsome, who also competed in the girls 4x200 relay and the 300 hurdles. "When I heard there was a jump-off, I was freaked out for a minute. It was very frustrating to come that close. I felt like I could win, but I'm still proud of myself and I'm proud of Faith too. We've been friends for the past couple of years."

University High's Heather Robertson also earned All-State with a fifth-place finish in the pole vault.


The Bucs had others earn All-State honors including Pablo Rivas in the boys' 1,600, Christina Fulcher in the girls' 1,600 and the boys' 4x800 relay team, which also set a personal best at 8:53.

Happy Valley had a couple of other All-State performances in the field events. Austin Roark cleared 5-feet-10 to finish seventh in the high jump and Kai Norman went 41-11.50 to finish seventh in the triple jump.

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