By ZACH BIRDSONG
Six Tullahoma High School athletes punched their tickets to the TSSAA State Track and Field Championships after their performance at sectionals on Tuesday in Evensville.
Ahmad Taylor, Connor White, Savion Smith, Leo Garrison, Logan Buckner and John Moore all guaranteed themselves a spot at state, finishing in the top four of their events at the 2-AAA Sectionals at Rhea County High School. The TSSAA State Track and Field Championships open at MTSU on Thursday and wrap up on May 26.
Garrison, Buckner, Moore and Smith all teamed for the lone Tullahoma first-place performance on the day, which came in the 4×200-meter relay. The Wildcats’ squad clocked in at 1 minute and 29.63 seconds to win the race.
The team from Stewarts Creek took second at 1:30.59, while Riverdale finished third at 1:31.78. East Hamilton rounded out the state qualifiers with a fourth-place effort at 1:31.79.
The same Tullahoma team of Garrison, Buckner, Moore and Smith also took second place in the 4×100 relay with a time of 43.20. The Siegel team took first overall in the relay at 42.91. Riverdale finished third at 43.22 and Stewarts Creek took fourth at 43.37.
Smith additionally qualified for state in two individual runs, the 100 and 200 dashes. Smith took second place in the 200 dash with a time of 22.37. Siegel’s Donovan Whitmore won the race, clocking in at 22.06. Cleveland’s Keegan Jones took third place at 22.60, while Riverdale’s Michael Scruggs took fourth at 22.65.
Smith then added a third-place effort in the 100 dash with a time of 11.23. Scruggs won the race, clocking in at 10.91 while Whitmore took second with a time of 11.12. Bradley Central’s Cason Still took fourth to qualify for state, finishing at 11.28.
Taylor added a second-place performance in the shot put, hurling a distance of 47 feet and 6 inches. Bradley Central’s Spencer Goode won the event at 54-08. Cookeville’s Allen Richardson finished third at 46-00.25 and Riverdale’s D’Andre Litaker took fourth at 45-07.75.
White earned his spot to state with a third-place effort in the pole vault, clearing a height of 9-6. Bradley Central’s Gage Mathews took first at 12-00. Riverdale’s Zachary Kindle finished second at 10-00 and his teammate Bryan Abriol took fourth at 9-06.
In the 800 run, Elijah Walker just missed his opportunity at state, finishing fifth at 2:06.08. Cleveland’s Mel Obadiah won the race at 1:59.75. Blackman’s Charles Bennett took second at 2:02.37. Warren County’s Christian Locke finished third at 2:03.08 and Cookeville’s Ben Pardue finished fourth at 2:03.26.
Walker also teamed with White, Andrew Nelius and Matt Qua to compete in the 4×800 relay. The Tullahoma team finished eighth in the race at 9:18.47. Oakland won the 4×800 with a time of 8:14.50, while Blackman took second at 8:15.03. Cleveland finished third at 8:29.50 and Riverdale rounded out the top four performers at 8:32.21.
Alasia Vaughn also competed at sectionals, taking part in the discus throw. She took seventh in the event, hurling a distance of 74-1.
Soddy Daisy’s Mattie Thomas won the discus throw at 107-11. Walker Valley’s Sophie Frederick took second at 101-10 and Ooltewah’s Krystal Starling finished third at 98-05. Oakland’s Angeli Wright rounded out the state qualifiers in fourth at 95-07.
Tullahoma will get its state championship run underway on Thursday, when White competes in the pole vault final. That event is slated to get underway at 2 p.m.
The Wildcats will then continue on May 26 as Taylor competes in the shot put starting at 9 a.m. The running events get underway at 3 p.m.
Smith will take part in the 100 dash and then he will join his teammates for the 4×200 dash. The Tullahoma team will then take part in the 4×100 relay, before Smith ends his day with the 200 dash.
A full schedule for the TSSAA State Track and Field Championship can be found online at tssaa.org/2017-tssaa-state-track-meet-schedule/.