|The local high school track and field teams had their first big test of the season earlier this month at the Riverdale Warrior Invitational Tomahawk Stadium.
All of the schools were represented in a meet that included 17 teams from all over the midstate. Each of the schools faced a warm, sunny and windy day and gave up with great performances.
The host school, Riverdale, had a big day with top five total finishes in both the boys and girls team results. The girls completed the day as the best team at the meet, while the boys also came home in the top 5.
Senior Terrance Chesterfield led the way for the Warriors in the field events winning both the long jump (21 feet, seven inches) and the triple jump (43-10.5). He also finished second in the high jump (6-4). Fellow Riverdale senior Devion Doyle was the fastest man at the meet picking up a win in the 100-meter dash.
However, the day belonged to the Lady Warriors. The highlight of the day was the one-two finish in the ladies 100-meter dash, which went to freshman Melanie Frierson with a time of 12.47 seconds. Senior Ashley Henry finished runner-up in a time of 12.53.
The two teammates have gone back and forth during the season, but they are just trying to improve their times, says Henry.
“We just like to push each other to see who gets better times. Its not about who wins and loses.”
For Henry, who helped lead the Lady Warriors basketball team to a state runner-up finish, she has been adjusting to the different condition between the two sports.
“It’s a big difference, Henry said. “ The conditioning is different between basketball and track. So I have been working hard.”
Henry also won the 200-meter dash, while Frierson was third. The Lady Warriors also won the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relay races and was third in the 4x800. In the hurdles, senior Tia Carney won both the 100 and 300-meter events. Sophomore Kenia Azor took the 400-meter dash and was second in the triple jump.
The Lady Warriors also did well in the field events. Senior Christy Gnaimvongsa winning the pole-vault. Fellow senior Jessica Azor finished in the top spot in the shot put second in the high jump, and runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles. Junior Tiffany Onwu also had a nice day that included a win in the triple jump, third in the high jump and fifth in the discus.
The other five schools also had great results in some of the events. For Blackman, senior Jared Phillips proved why he is maybe one of the best distance runners in the midstate with wins in the 1600 and 3200. In both races, Phillips defeated Bradley Central sophomore Paul Patterson including a late pass in one of the wins.
“My coach told me to hang in there in the first couple of laps then kick it into gear,” Phillips said. “I passed him on the bell lap and never looked back.”
He also though running against a big field gave him some needed experience for future meets.
“It gets me some experience racing against stiff competition.”
Another up-and-coming runner in the distance races was Central Magnet freshman Andre Hillsman. Hillsman competed in the ESPN Rise event last season in Florida, while in middle school. During this meet, he finished third in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200.
Running in steady wind that hovered between 10 and 20 miles per hour was tough for all of the competitors that day, regardless of the event.
“I tried not to worry about it,” Hillsman said. “I just tried to power through it.”
Siegel had a couple of athletes that dealt while finishing well in their field events. Junior Tony Allen finished runner-up in the pole vault to LaVergne senior Richard Souvannasy. They both reached a mark of 10 feet, but Souvannasy had less fouls.
“He is a good guy and were friends, so it’s good competition” Allen said of his fellow competitor.
For the Lady Stars, freshman Emily Mitchell finished fourth in the high jump. She tried different strategy for dealing with the changing wind conditions.
“I just waited for the wind to die down a little bit, so it didn’t affect me that much,” Mitchell said.
Finally, Oakland’s senior Kody Brown broke the school record with a 6-6 in the high jump knocking off Chesterfield. Brown’s coach Jason Wooten said he has made a lot of improvement since last season.
“He is a whole lot better at this point than at this point last season,” Wooten said.
All of the teams have several meets left this season until the big one, the Rutherford County Championships, April 30 at Siegel.