Murfreesboro — Pretty soon Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences is going to have to build a separate display case just to house all of the awards collected by junior duo Alayah Dozier and Brevin Sims.
The pair combined to win six state championship medals during Friday's TSSAA Division I Small Schools state track and field meet at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro. That gives each of them five state championships during their prep careers.
While Sims gets a lot of the spotlight due to his national hurdle ranking, it was Dozier who stole the show at Dean Hayes Stadium.
After dominant wins in the 100 (12.11), 200 (24.88), and 400 (57.37), she saved her best performance for last.
Running the anchor leg of the meet's final race, the 4x400 relay, Dozier dazzled a packed house as she took the baton with a sizable distance between her and the first place runner from East Nashville. By the time she reached the home stretch 300 meters later, she had made up the gap and held off the Lady Eagles' runner to give her relay team the title by 0.06 seconds. Dozier ran a 56.38 second lap, nearly a full second faster than her championship time in the open 400.
“This was my goal and I got it; it feels so much better than last season,” said Dozier after her win in the 200. That win came against Austin-East's Blake Blakemore, who beat her last year. “Blake pushes me. I've run against her for years, and I knew she was going to be my biggest competition out here. All season I've been working to win all three, so it just feels good.”
Sims continued his stranglehold as the best hurdler in the state of Tennessee, and among the elite in the nation. Having already set a state record in the 110 meter hurdles a month ago with a time of 13.68 (the sixth fastest time in the nation this season), Sims followed it up with a state meet record time of 13.80 on Friday, blowing away his competition.
Sims also dominated the 300 meter hurdles, winning in a time of 37.20. As if being the top hurdler wasn't enough, he also competed in the 100 and 200, placing sixth in each. Even with the two hurdles titles, Sims wasn't completely satisfied with his times.
“Going into today, my coach and I had times that we wanted to hit, and I didn't really hit any of them,” said Sims. “I don't think I pushed myself today as much as I did at different points in the season, but I was consistent. I'll take being consistent.”
While Sims and Dozier dominated the individual awards, it was the Signal Mountain girls that brought home the only team award for a local school across all divisions. The Lady Eagles, led by rising star, freshman Tara Jessen, placed second with 85 points behind team champion East Nashville, who scored 128 points. Arts and Sciences finished third.
Jessen earned two second-place finishes in the 800 and 1600, while she and senior Mattie Parker led the 4x800 relay team to a dominant victory. Jessen also placed third in the pentathlon last week.
“Coming into today, I just wanted to do my best for the team because we are in a points battle for the team title,” said Jessen, who placed second in the 800 last season as an eighth grader. “It's really comforting for me to know that what I'm doing is adding on to the team score.”
“I'm super honored to run against people like Loral Winn (Dresden senior who won the 800, 1600, and 3200), and to train with Mattie,” Jessen added when asked about being the top returning distance runner in the class next season. “I feel like the more I can run against such great competitors, the better I'll be.”
Parker finished off her prep career with a second-place finish in the 3200 and fifth in the 1600, while sophomore Briley Lowry finished third in the 300 hurdles. The Lady Eagles got a strong performance out of its pole vaulters during the morning's field events. Reilly Furr finished second, Charlotte Harrison third, and Sophia Gibby sixth, and Signal Mountain scored 17 total points in the event.
With many of the fans from the various area teams sitting together and cheering loudly for every Chattanooga-area athlete, Tyner's Antwonike Jennings kept the day rolling for the local girl sprinters with a win in the 100 meter hurdles in a time of 15.33. The sophomore also placed second in the 300 meter hurdles.
The Brainerd girls got in on the championship action with a win in the 4x200 relay in a time of 1:45.61. Sequatchie County's Emma Bradford also earned a fourth-place finish in the 1600.
Despite not having any champions, the Tyner boys earned fourth place in the team standings with 51 points, not far behind winner Pearl Cohn who had 74. Arts and Sciences finished seventh with 26 points, all coming from Sims.
Tyner senior Anthony Goodwin had a great meet to end his prep career, earning second in the shot put and fourth in the discus. Teammate Jordan Perkins was a surprise for the Rams, placing third in the triple jump with a jump of 42'9” after starting as the eighth seed. Senior Jerome Stoudamire also placed third in the 400 meters.
Football star Jeremiah Batiste had a somewhat disappointing day. The junior came into the meet as one of the top seeds in each of his events and with hopes of taking home a few titles, however he placed fifth in the long jump and fourth in the 100 meters. With a little bit of fire lit underneath him after the earlier performances, Batiste came back to finish second in the 200 meters later in the day.
“There's no excuses. The other guys showed up and I didn't; no excuses,” Batiste said, owning up to his performance. “That second-place finish makes me feel a little better about the day. I just didn't come with my A-game today.”
Signal Mountain junior Garrett Trombley placed third in the pole vault, while senior teammate Jackson Lillard finished fifth in the 800 in the final race of his prep career.