Several county athletes will compete at Spring Fling next week

May. 19, 2013 @ 12:10 AM

Athletes from Sevier County have qualified for eight track and field events at the 2013 TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling to be held next week on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

The AAA qualifiers, which were decided at last weekend’s region meet at Hardin Valley Academy, are four athletes from Sevier County High and one from Seymour.

In A/AA, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg-Pittman each will have one athlete at the state meet after their performances at their regional event.

At the AAA regional last week, SCHS’s Casey Carr, Brandon Laws and Connor Bailey each qualified for individual events, and the Bears’ 4x400 team (made up of Carr, Laws, Bailey and Jacob Whaley) also earned a spot in Murfreesboro.

Carr, a senior, won the region championship in the 110-meter hurdles, topping Bearden’s Christian Robinson by a scant 0.01 seconds for the top spot. Carr’s 14.82 second finish is a new school record for SCHS, bettering the previous mark he’d set at the IMAC meet earlier this month.

The previous record was held by Jeremiah Foster, who went on to run track at ETSU.

Carr should compete for the state title in Murfreesboro.

“He’s in the top three for sure,” SCHS track coach Jonathan Brewer said. “There’s only about four guys in the 14s, and he’s one of them.”

Carr also qualified for state in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing third with a time of 39.94.

Bailey, a sophomore, just missed out on a region title in the long jump.

He finished second — with a leap of 21 feet, 8.75 inches — just a quarter-inch behind Dobyns-Bennett’s Devaun Swafford, who’s signed to play football for the University of Tennessee this fall.

“With Connor, if we can just get him on the board, he’ll be in the mid to high 22s,” which would put him in contention, according to Brewer. “He’s close to popping a really good jump,” the coach said.

Brandon Laws also narrowly missed a region crown in the 800-meter race, finishing just seven-tenths of a second behind Bearden’s Chase Hilton.

The SCHS boys 4x400 team — comprised of Carr, Laws, Bailey and Jacob Whaley — also won a region championship, with a blistering time of 3:25.05.

“The 4x400 team is also in the top in the state as well,” Brewer said. “I think it’s the ninth year in a row we’ve taken a sprint relay team to the state championships, so that’s exciting.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever won the 4x400 at region. We’ve done really well in the 4x100 and 4x200, we’ve won that before, but the years we’ve taken a 4x400 to state, we’ve never won the region.”

The Bears’ greatest what if? for the state meet is the question of what they’d be able to do if speedburner Logan McCarter was healthy. McCarter, who’s signed to play football with Furman in the fall, partially-tore a hamstring at the district meet. That knocked him out for the remainder of the season. He was likely a sure-thing for the Bears in several individual events — including the 200, where he finished runner-up last year — and probably would have helped the team qualify in the 4x100 and 4x200.

For the Seymour Eagles, senior Hayden Brooks finished fourth in discus at region to earn a spot at the state meet for SHS.

Brooks finished behind Science Hill’s Justin Grant, Cherokee’s Evan McCracken and Jefferson County’s Zach Myers with a throw of 141 feet, six inches.

“In everything he’s been in, (Hayden’s) focused hard on it, concentrated really hard and put his best effort in,” Seymour track coach Gary Stinnett said. “He just keeps getting better and better and better as the year goes along. We’re hoping next weekend at state is one of the best competitions he’s had.”

Brooks will attend Milligan College next year and compete on their track and field team (see story, today’s paper).

For Pigeon Forge, junior Trevor Jain came out of nowhere to tie for the top-seeded spot in the state A/AA high jump.

Prior to region, Jain — who’s best known for his basketball ability — had managed just 5-foot-8 in the event.

But at region the competition helped him reach his potential with a nice 6-foot-2 leap, which ties for the highest just this season in A/AA competition. The 6-02 number tied the Pigeon Forge school record and earned Jain a three-way tie at region, earning him a place at state.

“He came out later in the year,” Pigeon Forge coach Jimi Rowland said. “I’ve been trying to get him to come out all year, and he came out one day and was kind of messing around, and I finally got him talked into coming out.”

The results paid off for Jain, who quickly made the most of his athletic ability by qualifying for state.

“He’s pretty excited about it,” Rowland said. “He’s ready to go down and try to do well.

“6-02 is the highest he’s managed to do in a meet,” the coach continued. “He’s done higher in practice, but practice is practice.”

With a year left in his high school career, Rowland said Jain’s got potential to do even better next year.

“I hope he catches the bug with it and wants to keep working with it,” the coach said.

For Gatlinburg-Pittman, Clay England — who competed in several events at state last year, including the decathlon — will return this season in the long jump competition.

England is the eighth-seeded jumper in A/AA with a leap of 20-02.75.