Hughes runs away with 2 state crowns

By Matt Hill

   MEMPHIS--After coming up short all week long, the last day any local athletes would be participating in the 2003 Spring Fling proved to be the one where a state champion would emerge.
   Happy Valley's David Hughes broke the ice Friday morning by easily winning the 3,200 meter run, then topped that off by taking top honors in the 1,600 at the Class A/AA State Track and Field Meet at Memphis Briarcrest.
   "It feels good to win," the Warrior senior said following his first victory of the day. "I feel relaxed because it's almost over and I've already figured out where I'm going to college. It feels great to win."
   Hughes, who has signed to run track and cross country with Middle Tennessee State, won the 3,200 by over 12 seconds with a time of 9:52.15. Hughes ran a 4:29.34 in the 1,600 to take a three second victory.
   His triumph in the 3,200 was no contest. Hughes took the lead on the second lap and never looked back.
   Hughes made the race a one-man show, as nobody could mount a serious charge at him.
   "I don't think this year that the competition was that good," Hughes said. "They were a bunch of young guys, and I don't think they were prepared to run against four years of training. But it feels good to win, and you can't beat a state championship."
   Hughes' toughest competition in the two mile might have been more mental. Hughes had one of the longest drives of anybody in the state meet, as Memphis is nine hours from Elizabethton.
   Hughes definitely had to stay fresh and try not to think about the grueling drive, and did a good job of that.
   But Hughes would have preferred the race be closer to the Tri-Cities.
   "I think it was a poor decision by the TSSAA to hold it down here," Hughes said. "It was a long trip and it probably hurt Katie (Williams) more than anything, because she had to run the next day. I did have one day to get my legs under me to get ready to run. Other than that, I felt pretty good."
   Hughes has worked extremely hard to be a state champion. Hughes also won the state cross country meet last fall.
   Hughes hopes his hard work will trickle down to the younger Warriors that will take his place.
   "I have two young freshman, and I hope if they learn anything from me they will learn hard work, because it will pay off in the end," Hughes said. "You will be rewarded for your hard work throughout high school."
   The runners at Happy Valley that follow Hughes will have a lot to live up to. Three state championships during your senior year will be hard to match for anybody.
   But Hughes doesn't want the next great Happy Valley star to be compared to him.
   "I don't want them to say 'there's the next David Hughes', but I think I have," Hughes said when asked if he had set the standard for all other Warrior runners. "My freshman and sophomore years, up until I broke Andy Curde's records, they always said 'well, there's the next Andy Curde.'
   So yeah I probably have, but I don't want any pressure put on all those other guys."
   Hughes was actually a surprise qualifier in the 800, but wound up fifth with a time of 2:03.88
   Elizabethton standout and Virginia football and basketball signee Vince Redd completed a stellar career on Friday with fifth and sixth place finishes in the shot put and discus, respectively.
   Cyclone speedster Lester Bailey also had a solid performance with his third-place finish in the 100 meter dash. Bailey ran a 10.93.
   Elizabethton's Matt Young, Josh Jaynes, Caleb McDaniel and David McDaniel took a home a solid fourth place finish in the 4x800 relay, as they tallied a time of 8:32.41.