Cornett, Short lay foundation for Longhorns

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   MOUNTAIN CITY -- The theme song of the Johnson County track program should be Van Halen's "Jump." The Longhorns have two boys that really know how to do that.
   Matt Cornett and Tommy Short were among the region's best in the high jump last year, and should be once again when the Longhorns take to the track in 2002.
   Cornett led what was a successful season for the Johnson County track team, as he earned a berth in the state meet for the high jump.
   "I felt like we had a good year," Johnson County head coach Mike Atwood said. "For the facilities we have Matt did an excellent job."
   Atwood knows the competition is going to be tougher with Sullivan Central and Elizabethton entering the Watauga Conference, but he remains upbeat about Cornett's chances to make it to Chattanooga.
   "I believe he can," Atwood said. "I think Elizabethton has a real good jumper. The competition is tougher. He'll probably have to practice at Happy Valley. It's the closest high jump pit to Mountain City. Hopefully, he will get a few practices."
   Some of Cornett's toughest competition in the high jump may come from Short. He finished third in the district last season.
   "Both of them are also good at the long jump, and are good sprinters," Atwood said about Short and Cornett. "We have good athletes, but they all have to do so much."
   Ricky Shaw and Tolby Lowe are good shot put throwers, and could also shine in the district and regional meets in May.
   "They were fairly close to the regional qualifying distance in the shot put," Atwood said.
   While the Longhorns are lacking distance runners, they should be just fine as far as sprinters. Atwood is counting on big things from Daniel Dugger, who is one of his football players.
   "We expect him to do well in track," Atwood said.
   On the girls side, Atwood is counting on Courtney Shaw, Nikki Davidson, Holly Grayson, Rachel Osborne and Veronica Ward to be top-notch sprinters.
   Atwood believes the girls will be very strong in a couple of relays.
   "We should have a pretty good 4x100 and 4X200 relay team," Atwood said.
   In distance events, Atwood is counting on Megan Lewis for some good results.
   The long jump will be an event where Rachel Royston should shine.
   Johnson County's track program is relatively new, and Atwood has 15 girls and 18 boys to work with.
   "This is our third year of track, and we're just starting to get the numbers," Atwood said.
   Atwood does have some pretty lofty goals for the program this season.
   "We want to have as many people place in the regional tournament, and send a couple of people down to Chattanooga," Atwood said. "We want to be competitive overall."