McCallie Rallies To Win D-II State Track

Blue Tornado Overcomes Big Deficit To Beat Christian Brothers By 40 Points

  • Thursday, May 23, 2024
  • John Hunt

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – For the second straight day, a Chattanooga team won a state championship in track here in the Spring Fling at MTSU’s Dean Hayes Track & Soccer Stadium.

The meet was interrupted by stormy weather shortly after the running finals began, but after a delay of more than two hours, the meet resumed and didn't have any more delays, despite forecasts of more storms about 9 that never materialized.

Tuesday saw the Signal Mountain girls win their third straight state title while it was McCallie’s turn on Wednesday as they overcame an early deficit following the field events to put a solid thumping on two-time defending champ Christian Brothers.

The Blue Tornado finished the day with 154 points to just 114 for the Purple Wave. Montgomery Bell Academy was a distant third with 68 points.

Chattanooga Christian was seventh with 46 while Baylor was 12th with 19 points.

Franklin Road Academy won both state titles in the Class A competition with the girls scoring 87 points while the guys had 106.

Boyd Buchanan finished seventh among the guys with 35 points while Silverdale was 11th with 29 and Notre Dame 21st with seven.

Knox Webb won the AA girls title with 103 points to nip Harpeth Hall’s 100.5. GPS was eighth with 41 while Baylor and Chattanooga Christian were 10th and 11th with 31 and 30 points, respectively.

McCallie has a veteran team that just loves to compete, so it’s not really a surprise to first-year coach Rodney Stoker that they were able to come back from such an deep hole following the field events.

“I’m really confident in what we can do, but we have a lot of experience and guys who love to compete. It’s never easy to win a state title and Christian Brothers was unreal, but I never had to say much to the guys today,” Stoker said while the girls 3200 run was underway.

“We had a bunch of guys who really stepped up today, including Kendrick Reynolds, who had a triple jump of 43 feet, six and three-quarter inches on his final attempt to beat the Christian Brothers guy by a half inch. I’m really honored to be their coach, but it was a real team effort and I couldn’t be more proud,” Stoker added.

McCallie trailed by almost 30 points before the running finals began, but the Blue Tornado just kept chipping away before finally regaining the lead. Reynolds was the only winner in the field events, but his teammates came back to win two relays and two individual events while taking second in three other races.

Christian Brothers broke a state record in winning the 3200 relay with a time of 7:43.36 while McCallie was second in 7:46.81. Other state records were broken in the girls 3200 and the boys 1600.

Abby Faith Cheeseman is just a junior at Webb School in Bell Buckle, but she now has eight state titles to her name after winning the 3200, 1600 and 800 runs for the second straight year.

The youngest daughter of former Chattanoogans Ken and Cathy, she lapped the entire field in winning the 3200 with a state mark of 10:11.35. She also won the 1600 in 5:02.23 and the 800 in 2:21.51.

“I’m really happy with the results so far, but I just tried to run smart and still win,” the 17-year-old junior expressed following her second win of the day.

“I also wanted to put in a good effort as after all, this is a state championship. But it’s been a good season and this is a great way to wrap it up,” she added.

McCallie won both the 800 and 400 relays with times of 1:28.11 and 42.01, respectively, before Caughran Fowler took first in the 400 with a time of 48.02 seconds.

“That was awesome as my goal coming in was to win,” Fowler said shortly after crossing the finish line.

“I had the lead early, but got passed about half-way through. I just stayed calm as I knew I could catch him in the last stretch and that’s what I did,” the McCallie senior explained.

Silverdale’s Liam Runkle also had a good day as he finished second in the 110 high hurdles with a time of 14.75, just two-hundredths behind the winner. He came back to win the 300 intermediates in 38.17 seconds.

“We both went under 15 seconds on a wet track after that long delay, so that’s not too bad. We were really close at the end, but I just got outleaned,” he said after the first race.

“I was hoping to get around 37 seconds, but I still got a PR and I’m happy. I just tried to approach it as a sprint race and I’m happy to get that win. Last year I won the 110s and finished second in the 300s, so I did just the opposite today,” he smiled.

Chattanooga Christian’s Zachary Youngblood didn’t win a race, but he had a great run in finishing second in the 1600 with a time of 4:06.80 before taking fourth in the 3200 with an outstanding time of 9:23.69.

“That first one was a really hard race and I think going that fast finally caught up with me as I lost in the final 200 meters. I still got a personal record by some five seconds, so I’m really happy,” he nodded.

Ben Rouse got Christian Brothers off to a good start by clearing 14-6 in taking second in the pole vault while Jeremiah Robinson was second in the triple jump behind McCallie’s Reynolds.

Ashton Hearn really put on a show by taking first in both the shot put and discus with winning efforts of 61 feet, one inch in the first and a whopping 199 feet, five inches in the second. Teammate Drew Benton finished second in the discus with a best toss of 188-7 after finishing fourth in the shot put.

Lesley Burton had a throw of 43 feet, half inch on her first attempt to win the shot put while ninth grader Mason Bates did the same thing to win the discus with a toss of 156 feet flat.

Kaylen Owen finished second in the triple jump for Silverdale with a best distance of 34 feet, 11 inches while teammate Abigail Witten was second in the 200 with a time of 26.06 seconds.

Olivia Mroz was most outstanding for Notre Dame by clearing 5-2 and finishing third in the high jump.

Maelynn Adams-Cook and Addi Greene paced the Baylor girls by finishing third in the 300 hurdles and 800, respectively, while Claire Clark was third in the discus for the CCS girls.

GPS posted a time of 9:40.28 to finish second in the 3200 relay while Mariah Ivery was third in the 400 with a time of 57.81 seconds before finishing third in the 200 with a time of 25.95 seconds.

Jackson Meredith had a time of 1:54.90 to finish second in the 800 for the CCS boys while Keandre Martin was third in the long jump before taking fifth in the 100.

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