By David Rogers. March 16, 2017. BOONE, NC — Technically speaking, “Navy” defeated “White” in both the Girls and the Boys divisions, but nobody really cared because the nearly 100 middle school student athletes were really all on the same Watauga team.
COVER IMAGE: The Watauga 4×400 relay teams leap off the awards stand in celebration of season’s end.
They called it the “County Championships”, but since Watauga is a unified team with all middle schools in the county competing on just one team against other regional teams, Tuesday’s track and field meet was just one big celebration for the end of the season.
Although largely considered a “friendly” competition, there were some impressive performances on a clear, sunny afternoon with the temperatures poking above 80 degrees at Jack Groce Stadium on the Watauga High School campus.
- 8th grader Ben Myers was the only athlete to run the Boys 55 Meter Hurdles under 10 seconds, and he did it twice: 9.50 in the prelims and 9.59 in the finals
- Sarah Goode’s 10.89 just edged out Nyla Johnson’s 10.94 in the Girls 55 Meter Hurdles. Both 7th graders, they were the only girls to beat 11 seconds
Kendall Reece (8th grade) almost broke 14 seconds in capturing the Girls 100-meter dash in 14.11. She ran a slightly faster 14.04 to run past the field in her preliminary heat
- Seb Best (8th grade) was more than a half-second faster in charging to the finish of the Boys 100-Meter Dash in 12.28
- The 1600 Meter Run was a show of force for Watauga’s 7th graders, but Sophie Beach separated herself from the rest of the field towards the end of Lap 3 to run a personal best of 6:25.06. Her chief rival locally this season has been Maddie Parker, who also ran a personal best 6:32.88 to finish second
- 8th grader Tucker Brown was almost half a minute in front of the next best finisher in posting a 5:03.63 in the Boys 1600
- In the grueling 400 Meter Dash, Lillie Jamison was a convincing winner in 1:08.73 in the Girls Division, while Korben Anderson (1:01.66) edged Isaac Satterfield (102.70) in the Boys Division
The Girls 800 Meters was another 7th grade middle distance feature, with Maddie Parker powering through the last 150 meters with an impressive stride and speed to spare, winning in 3:03.61. Her rival, Sophie Beach, was an estimated 70 yards behind in finishing the half-mile equivalent distances in 3:11.16. One of the more impressive performances was by young 6th grader Grace Greene to take 3rd place in 3:21.68
- Tucker Brown showed his middle distance prowess in taking the Boys 800 in 2:32.28, a little more than 3 seconds ahead of Matthew Taubman (7th grade) in 2:35.87.
- Grace Horine (8th grade) flashed some speed in edging out Kendall Reece in the Girls 200 Meter Dash, 28.42 vs. 28.74, pushing each other in the same heat. Ella Triplett (30.36), the lone 7th grader among the top finishers in the 200, and Maddy Watson (31.45) were 3rd and 4th, respectively
- In the Boys 200, 8th grader Shanly Harper bested 7th grader Eli Lyons, 26.69 vs. 27.68
- 7th grader Grace Presnell captured the Girls Discus with a throw of 77-02
Sam Sloan (8th grade) took the Boys Discus with a heave of 83-08, ahead of Isaac Satterfield (8th), who was just behind with a throw of 76-02
- Victoria Cool (8th) leaped 4-04 to take the Girls High Jump, but was chased by 7th grader Ruby Wilson’s 2nd place jump of 4-02
- The Boys High Jump was pretty much an all-8th grade affair. Seb Best picked up his second blue ribbon by jumping 4-08, while Abe Bachman (4-06) and Max Woolard (4-04) were not far behind
- Grace Presnell (7th grade) won her second blue ribbon of the day in field events when she won the Shot Put with a toss of 31-11
- After finishing 2nd in the Boys 400 Meter Dash, Isaac Satterfield (8th grade) demonstrated his versatility when he went to the top of the podium in the Boys Shot Put, throwing 33-09
- In the Girls Long Jump, Kate Dailey (7th grade) and Caroline Farthing (6th grade) were in a class by themselves in finishing 1st (12-02.50) and 2nd (12-00.50)
Seb Best secured the win in the Boys Long Jump at 16-11.50, followed by 6th grader Trey Thompson’s 15-09.00 for 2nd place
- The Triple Jump proved an all-6th grade event of champions, with the Boys division won by Tristan Salinas’ 28-04.00 and the Girls Division captured by Caroline Farthing’s 28-08.00
Watauga Middle School Track & Field head coach Michael Neff told Blowing Rock News afterwards that the 2017 season had really been a lot of fun, in spite of a few meets getting rained out.
“We started out with about 130 student-athletes on our active roster,” Neff disclosed, “but with attrition we are now down to an active roster of about 102 or 103, of which not all were able to make it today. It is a pretty even balance of grades, about 40 8th graders, 40 7th graders, and maybe about 30 6th graders.
“We learned some new things about trying to operate with numbers,” smiled Neff, “but we have some terrific assistant coaches who have helped with all of that.”
Looking at individuals, Neff quickly acknowledged the growing strength of the middle school program.
“This season has been awesome, really,” he observed. “We have some really strong 8th, 7th and 6th graders. To see what some of these 6th graders, especially, can do at such a young age is really impressive. Among the boys, although a 6th grader, Trey Thompson, came in and instantly made an impact in the sprints and the jumps. Then we have some older kids who improved dramatically from the beginning of the season to the end. Guys like Sebastian (Best) who came in and won the high jump today. He hasn’t high jumped all year. These guys have all just come in and done what they have been coached to do. They are very receptive.
“On the girls side,” Neff added, “it is almost the same story. We have a very strong 8th grade class in the sprints and jumps. The only thing lacking at that grade level is in the distances, where we don’t have a single 8th grade girl. But that is balanced by having four 7th grade girls running distance and they are doing phenomenal, especially Sophie Beach and Maddie Parker and a 6th grader, Grace Greene, is really right there with them already. I think some of our 6th grade girls in the jumps and sprints are going to be special to watch in the next couple of years as they develop.”