Bears go 4-for-4 in preliminaries
The Sevier County High School track and field team earned spots in the finals of four events at today’s TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling State Championships with their performances in Thursday afternoon’s preliminaries.
Seniors Casey Carr (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Brandon Laws (800 meters) qualified in individual events for the Bears, while the 4x400 relay team (made up of Laws, Carr, Connor Bailey and Jacob Whaley) also snagged a spot in today’s finals.
“They ran well, they competed well,” said John Hutchins, assistant SCHS track coach, who’s guiding the squad while head coach Jonathan Brewer remained at home with his wife and newborn baby daughter.
“When you get down here its all about competing — every down here is good.
“There’s always first day jitters, but for the most part we kept it in check.”
While no school or personal records were set on Thursday at the meet for the Purple and White, Hutchins said the runners were close enough.
“It’s so hard to run a (personal best) on this first day,” the coach said. “You’re just thinking about getting into that top three (of your heat) to get an automatic qualifier to finals.”
The Bears did well enough.
Carr was third in both of his heats in the 110 and 300 hurdles, punching his ticket for today.
“He did not run well in the 110 hurdles,” Hutchins, who coaches the team in hurdles, said. “He was nervous and he wasn’t as smooth as he normally does, but he was clean — he didn’t hit any hurdles.
“If he runs close to his PR he’ll be right there with them (in the finals).”
Laws battled back from a tough opening 200 to finish fourth in his heat in the 800 meter race.
“There are 11 kids down here that have run 1:58 or better, and he was with six of the 11,” Hutchins said. “At the first 200 he was in the last place in his heat, but he raced very well to get back in it and finish fourth in his heat. It takes a lot out of you to do that.”
In fact, at one point Laws led the pack.
“He exhausted a lot of energy to get back in the mix and take the lead. He ran really strong.”
Just minutes later, Laws was running with the 4x400 team in their preliminary, where the team finished second in their heat and fifth overall to qualify for finals.
“They ran really well,” Hutchins said. “Especially Connor (Bailey). He was our second leg and ran a 49.2 split, a full second faster than his previous best.
“When he got the baton, we were in seventh place and when he handed off we were in first.”
In fact, teammates Carr and Whaley also had their fastest splits of the season.
The Sevier County boys will compete today beginning at 11 a.m. (Central Time), when Bailey leaps for the state long jump title.
The running events start at 5 p.m. (Central).
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg-Pittman will each have athletes competing at field events earlier in the day as well.
The Tigers’ Trevor Jain will go for gold in the high jump competition, while G-P’s Clay England will take his shot against the long jump field.