Halie Hawkins runs to a vault during the TriCitiesSports.com Relays on Monday, May 8. Hawkins set a personal record during the event. (Photo contributed by Daniela Martinez)

By Keeli Parkey

The final two meets of the regular season for the Unicoi County High School track and field teams were all about preparation for the postseason.

Last week’s inclement weather led to the postponement of the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays – an invitation-only meet held at Science Hill High School in Johnson City – and the last scheduled regular season meet for UCHS. The meet was originally set for Friday, May 5, but rain and cold temperatures led event coordinators to move the meet to Monday, May 8.

Unfortunately for the UCHS athletes invited to the meet, the makeup date was the day before their important subsectional meet on Tuesday, May 9. This forced the UCHS coaching staff to make tough decisions regarding what events their athletes would participate in.

“The nature of our sport sometimes forces us to make difficult decisions regarding athlete participation in meets,” UCHS head coach Megan Davis said. “It is unfortunate for our athletes that the TriCitiesSports.com Relays had to be moved to the day before our subsectional meet. The subsectional meet is our first step in qualifying for the sectional meet, and ultimately, the state meet. We want our athletes to be as fresh as possible for the subsectional.”

Davis said approximately 75 percent of UCHS track athletes were invited to compete in the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays.

“It says a lot about our athletes that so many were going to be able to participate in this meet,” Davis said. “To be one of the best athletes in your event in the area is no joke.”

Only five UCHS athletes competed on Monday. Among them was Stephanie Wisse. Davis said Wisse was invited to compete in seven events, but in order to have her ready for Tuesday’s subsectional, Wisse, who excels at running events, only participated in the high jump. Davis said Wisse participated in this event as part of her preparation for the state pentathlon meet.

“This was a good meet for her to get prepared to compete at state,” Davis said. “It’s unfortunate that she couldn’t compete in all the events she was invited to. She had won the meet’s most valuable runner award the last two years. I think she would have won that again this year.”

Cameron Higgins participated in the discus throw on Monday. Also, pole vaulters Andrew Bowen, Alex Carter and Halie Hawkins competed at the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays.

“It says a lot about the job coach (Thad) Higgins is doing with our vaulters that they were invited to compete,” Davis said. “It was good for them to compete just before subsectionals.”

Hawkins set a personal best on Monday, turning in a personal best vault of 8 feet, Davis reported.

The UCHS pole vaulters showed their progress during a meet held at Science Hill on Tuesday, May 2.

“Alex cleared a vault for the first time,” Davis said. “This was a big step for her as a beginning vaulter. She was able to clear three different heights.”

Carter reached 6’-6” on May 2.

“That makes her competitive in the postseason,” Davis added.

Hawkins set a personal best of 7’-6”, which she improved on during the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays, on May 2.

“We are very excited about that,” Davis said. “It makes her very competitive at sectional and subsectional levels and it puts us at a point where we can start thinking about state competition.”

Bowen cleared 10’-6” last week.

“Andrew is becoming a more advanced vaulter,” Davis said. “We are excited to see what he can do in the postseason.”

• • •

Blue Devils and Lady Devils competed in the subsectionals in Greeneville on Tuesday, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. Those athletes who qualify will advance to the sectional meet set for Wednesday, May 17, at Chattanooga Christian School.

“We fully plan to see several of our athletes move on to sectionals,” Davis said.