By Keeli Parkey
They ran. They threw. They jumped. They had success.
Several Unicoi County High School track and field athletes won or placed in their respective events during the 2018 Three Rivers Conference meet held at Elizabethton High School on Monday, May 7.
“This meet is a very important day for us, not only to try to claim conference bragging rights, but also to have a final opportunity for our athletes to qualify for the Large Schools Sectionals,” head coach Megan Davis told The Erwin Record.
Among the notable results was a first-place finish by the Lady Devils’ 4×800-meter relay team. This was the fourth consecutive year that a UCHS team has won this event at the conference meet. Running in the event on Monday were Valeria Ponce, Kaitlyn Tilson, Jillian Taylor and Megan Todd.
“I am so incredibly proud of our 4×800 team,” Davis said. “They have worked many years to get to where they are. Their leadership has been seen throughout the entire team and has helped pass the reins over to Valeria, the lone freshman on the relay.”
Blue Devil Kody Lewis turned in a first-place finish in the 200-meter and a second-place finish in the 100-meter.
“Kody stood out big tonight,” Davis said. “He made a name for himself as a new runner in the conference.”
Lady Devil Halie Hawkins took first place in the pole vault.
“Halie is really vaulting well,” Davis said.
Other notable results for the UCHS program at the conference meet included: Kenny Perciful, second in shot put, fourth in discus; Roby Lemmon, sixth in shot put; Megan Todd, second in 3200-meter, third in 1600-meter; Cheyenne Wilson, sixth in 1600-meter; John Campbell, sixth in 1600-meter; Jillian Taylor, sixth in 400-meter; Alexis Harvey and Alex Carter, tied for second place in pole vault; Rachel Altemose, fourth in pole vault; Jadyn Peterson, sixth in pole vault; Sabrina Todd third in 3200-meter; and Kayla Hicks, sixth in 200-meter.
“I couldn’t be more proud of all the performances tonight,” Davis said on Monday. “For many it was their last meet of the season and for some of our seniors this was their last meet for their high school career and they gave it their all. Others knew they still had sectionals on Friday (May 11), yet their performances still left everything out there. They all had one goal in mind and that showed in the results tonight.”
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The Blue Devils and Lady Devils wrapped up the regular season last week with a meet at Science Hill on May 1 and an invitational meet at Dobyns-Bennett on May 4.
Results on May 1 included: Perciful, first place in discus and shot; Lemmon, second place in discus and shot; Lewis, first in 100-meter and 200-meter; Campbell, second place in steeplechase; Natalia Mendoza, second in discus; M. Todd, third in 1600-meter; and Taylor, fourth in 400-meter.
On Friday, May 4, Lewis and Hawkins represented UCHS at the Ballad Health Tri-Cities Relays (formerly the Times News/Tri-Cities Relays) in Kingsport.
“A few UCHS athletes were invited to compete in this prestigious ‘area best’ meet at Dobyns-Bennett,” Davis said. “In order to compete in this meet, athletes must be one of the top 9 competitors in the Tri-Cities area in their event. This not only allows athletes another opportunity to qualify for sectionals, but it’s also a night of bragging rights.”
Hawkins took second place in the pole vault at the event while jumping 10 feet – a personal best and a new school record.
“This was a big night for her to get to feel a whole new level of vaulting,” Davis said. “We are excited to see where this carries her for sectionals.”
Lewis earned fifth place in the 100-meter and ran a new personal best of 11.42.
“Kody has been running very well for us and we are still seeing significant drops in his time as we are just now hitting his optimal training level,” Davis said. “The competition Kody and Halie saw today is the competition they will see on May 12. This night was great for their own successes and good for us coaches to see what we need to prepare for next week.”
The girls 4x800m relay (Ponce, Tilson, Taylor and M. Todd) was invited to this meet, but didn’t compete due to injuries. Lewis was also invited for the 200-meter, but did not compete in this event due to his training schedule.
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Blue Devils and Lady Devils who have qualified will compete in the sectional meet on Saturday, May 12, at Science Hill.
“This year has been a year of change for UCHS track and field,” Davis said. “The changes to the TSSAA track and field system placed Unicoi County in the larger school classification. Despite these changes, our goal at UCHS track and field has not changed – Blue Devil representation at the state meet in Murfreesboro. Part of that new journey for our athletes has been qualifying for the sectional track meet.
The following athletes will compete at sectionals on May 12: Hawkins in pole vault; Harvey in pole vault; Altemose in pole vault; Mendoza in discus; Shane Armstrong in shot put; Perciful in shot put; Lewis in the 100-meter and 200-meter; and M. Todd in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter.
“This is an incredible accomplishment for each of these athletes and a testament to their hard work this season,” Davis said. “We could not be more proud of the way all of our athletes perform each and every day and are excited to see what these qualifiers do as they attempt to qualify for the state meet.”