Locals excel at Tennessee Relays

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 06:38 PM

 Trevor Jain said he felt a little intimidated inside LaPorte Stadium.

The Pigeon Forge senior, in his second season high jumping, was going toe-to-toe with some elite hoppers. Within a couple hours, Jain proved he wasn't bad, either.

“These guys are pretty good at this and I'm still a little rusty coming off last year,” Jain said. “It felt good. I feel like I'm getting back to where I was (last year). I was jumping good today.”

Jain set a career and school record by clearing six feet, four inches at the Tennessee Relays on Saturday. The mark was good enough for second to Maryville's Jordan Scott, who jumped 6-6 for the win.

It wasn't the only big performance by local athletes on the final day of the meet hosted by the University of Tennessee. Sevier County's boys 1,600-meter relay team capped a fantastic weekend on Tom Black Track, winning the event in a season-best 3:27.52. Sevier County coach Jonathan Brewer said it was the first time he'd had a relay team win at UT.

“I was happy with the way they ran,” Brewer said. “Connor (Bailey) and Brandon (Laws) started off for us and gave us just a huge lead. If you can find two guys that run mid-52s, you're going to be pretty good, which is what we got (in Hunter Miniard and Blake Campbell).”

Seymour's Patrick Schumacher smashed his previous best in the boys 3,200 meters by 27 seconds. He finished 11th in 10:11.56. Teammate Victoria Nelson finished sixth in the girls triple jump, her first year in the event, by jumping 29-11 ¾. Pigeon Forge's Christian Sisto was eighth in the boys shot put, throwing 38-1.

Saturday's meet was an opportunity for all the high schoolers to began to ratchet up their performances on the road to the state championships in late May. The competition provided a barometer of what it will take to get to Murfreesboro.

“I'm trying to use this tournament to see what kind of girls I'm going to end up going against here coming up in sectionals and regionals and state,” Nelson said. “See what I have to get to be up there with them and beat them.”

Schumacher showed he's putting his best runs together just as the calendar turns toward the biggest meets of the year. His big run Saturday came after he beat his career mark in the 1,600 on Friday by five seconds.

The runner said competing against deep fields in Knoxville always brings out his best.

“It was a really fast heat,” Schumacher said. “It was fun, though. It was a good race. I always love racing here.”

Schumacher and his fellow competitors want to make sure they keep progressing. Sevier County's Bailey, who had a win and a third-place finish on Friday to go with the Saturday relay victory, talked on Friday about how important it is to put together your best performances from here on out. Brewer said Bailey and his relay companions could go as low as 3:23 by the state meet if they're already putting down a 3:27 in mid-April.

The same way other spring sports emphasize that the tournament is all that matters, doing your best at championship meets is what drives athletes on the track and in the field.

“Our coaches do a great job,” Bailey said. “(Assistant coach) Jon Hutchens and (Brewer), they both do a great job making sure we peak late in the year. It won't be until right before regions, right before states that we get our fastest times.We hope to see our fastest times late in the year. You get faster and faster and keep increasing.”