AAC meet sees Redd win four events for EHS girls

By Matt Hill

   KINGSPORT--A day that started off on the wrong foot became one to remember for Elizabethton track and field star Valnessha Redd.
   After a disappointing third-place finish in the high jump, the Lady Cyclone sophomore went on to win four individual events during the Appalachian Athletic Conference Track and Field Meet at Sullivan North High School.
   Redd broke her own conference meet records in the triple jump and long jump to earn top athlete in field events.
   But Redd wasn't done there. She then won in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
   In her first event of the day, Redd struggled in the high jump. That was all the motivation she needed.
   "That told me I needed to come out here and do something," Redd said. "That's what I did, I stepped up and did something."
   The EHS girls also won in the 800 relay, and Tara Benfield took the shot put championship.
   Redd is proud of the whole team, a squad that finished third overall behind Unicoi County and Sullivan North.
   Altogether, as a team, I think we're No. 1," Redd said. "It's whatever they give us that counts. But to me we're still No. 1. Our team puts so much effort into it, there's no way they can call us a No. 2 team."
   The Happy Valley girls were led by Katie Williams, who won both the one-mile and two-mile runs.
   "It was real hot out here, and everybody was struggling in the heat," Williams said. "I'm pretty happy with my win. My times could have been lower, but that's all right."
   Another major highlight for Happy Valley on the day was Keila Williams breaking the school record in the shot put.
   "At first she was playing softball, but then she decided to come back out for us," Williams said. "We're real happy with that. It's amazing how she can go from softball to track."
   As for the Warrior guys, it was the same old song in the distance races.
   Middle Tennessee State signee David Hughes won the two mile, the one mile and the 800 meter runs. His time of 10:15.81 in the two-mile broke the conference record and earned him top athlete in running events.
   But Hughes was even happier about teammate Codi Stewart winning the pole vault competition with a leap of 10'6".
   "Codi and I are good friends," Hughes said. "He works hard. He runs intervals with us distance guys, he pole vaults, I've seen him win in the 300's. He sometimes gets overlooked because of my success, but he's a great athlete."
   The Elizabethton High School boys had several big performances en route to a second-place team finish.
   Lester Bailey broke a conference record in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.95, and tied a conference record in the 200 with his 23.2 clip.
   Virginia football and basketball signee Vince Redd broke a conference record in the shot put and easily won the discus competition. Andy Hobbs won the long jump and EHS took the victory in the 3,200 meter relay.
   "We came out representing," Bailey said. "We come to practice every day always working hard and stuff. Altogether the team did real good."
   Also getting into the win column on Thursday was Johnson County standout Matt Cornett. Cornett won his third-straight conference high jump title, this time jumping 6' 2" to tie his personal best.
   Cornett has been to the state meet in the high jump twice, so his focus is on next week at the Regional and beyond.
   "I'm looking forward to the state," Cornett said. "I think I can do it (win the state). I think I've got three inches if I can get a good jump and get my feet up. I clear it with my back and usually get my butt over, too. It's usually the back of my calf. If I can just get my feet up good.
   "Plus it helps having competition. When everybody is already out, you're just jumping for practice. I think when I get in there and I've got somebody around, I think it will be a little different atmosphere and a little different feeling."
   The Region I-A/AA meet will take place next Thursday at Sullivan North.