By Matt Myers
The T.A. Dugger Jr. Cyclones dominated the field events and withstood a late charge by the Unicoi Jr. Blue Devil sprinters and distance runners to capture first place overall at Thursday’s boys and girls middle school track meet at historic Brown-Childress Stadium.
The Jr. Cyclones began their field domination by sweeping the high jump. Kayla Marosites and Caleb Trivett turned in jumps of 4-6 and 4-8, respectively, to propel TAD to victory.
In the boys and girls discus, shot put and long jump, the story was no different: Casey Hayes captured victory in the boys shot-put with a throw of 94 feet, 2 inches, and Teve Mushayamunda captured first place in the boys long jump with an amazing 12-foot, 9-inch hurdle.
Melenda Perry grabbed first-place honors in the girls shot-put with a 31-foot, 8-inch effort, and Jemimah Ndune turned in a 10-foot, 6.5-inch jump to claim first place in the girls long jump.
The hurdle events that opened the track portion of the meet were indicative of the neck and neck competition the Jr. Cyclones and Blue Devils would participate in the rest of the night. Maria Chellah captured victory for the Jr. Cyclone girls with a winning time of 19.76, while Blue Devil Michael Howell hurdled his way for first place in boys competition with a winning time of 20.05 seconds.
The Blue Devils would carry that momentum forward throughout the meet, which saw them garner victories in the boys 4×100 relay, girls 1,600 meters, girls 100M and 200M sprints, boys 200M sprint, boys 4×200 relay and the boys 400M. Abby True and Jose Ortiz stood at the forefront of the surging Blue Devil effort that came up just short, and they definitely earned the praise of their head coach, Chris Brown.
“It was exciting to see Jose and Abby compete so well tonight, they really inspired the other kids to step up,” said a satisfied Brown after the meet, “Abby’s 14 second run in the 100M was impressive and Jose’s effort in the 4×100 and his 12.86 time in the 200M, really motivated us as a team. Overall I thought we competed very well, and I am really looking forward to our season moving forward.”
Perhaps the most impressive individual performance of the night was turned in by Harrison Wright in the 1600M. The gritty distance runner, who can often be seen honing his endurance up and down Elizabethton’s hill-ridden streets, placed himself a full four seconds in front of the second-place runner — his teammate Mushayamunda – and never wavered.
Not surprisingly, the finest group effort came from Cyclone skipper Camille Demateo’s Lady Jr. Cyclone relay units. Autumn Thomas, Kayla and Kelci Marosites, Maria Chellah and Melenda Perry all contributed to the Lady Jr. Cyclone victories in the 4×100 (57.92), 4×200 (2:04:57), and 4×400 (5:10:38) relays. Demateo was definitely pleased afterward with the performance of her deep relay talent that won all the events without really being challenged.
“The girls were able to cut almost a full ten seconds off of their combined time tonight,” said an elated Demateo post-meet. “As I said before the season, I feel like our strength in the relays really gives our whole team a winning edge. To see this kind of improvement already this early was a big boost to our confidence overall. We hope that everyone can continue to bring their best team effort to the table throughout the season.”
The final standings for the meet are as follows: Boys – 1st place TAD; 2nd place, Unicoi; 3rd place, Happy Valley. Girls – 1st place, TAD; 2nd place, Unicoi; 3rd place, HV.