Cyclones leading charge in Watauga's main even

By Kim Richardson
STAR Staff
krichardson@starhq.com

   KINGSPORT--Adam Turley attributed it to hard work.
   "We've worked hard to get ready for this week," said Turley on Thursday afternoon.
   Turley, the Campbellsville University bound, former Cyclone football star, cleared five feet-ten inches to win the high jump on opening day of the Watauga Conference track and field championship events, which will be conclude today, being held at Sullivan North High School.
   "It was a good day overall, even though it was just a little wet in spots," said Turley. "I'm really pleased, this being my senior year. We hope to take this momentum on into the sprints and relay events Friday."  
   The big surprise was the second-place finish in the long jump by the Cyclones' Andy Hobbs; not so much that he finished second, but the fact that he could jump at all. Hobbs is nursing a pulled hamstring, an aggravating injury that occurred just Wednesday.
   Hobbs managed a courageous 20-1 to finish second to Sullivan Central's Ben Schodowski, who leapt 20-9.
   "Yeah, I guess it was bad timing, as much as I wanted to be at my best for the conference meet," said Hobbs. "I'll ice it down tonight and hope to be just a little better for my teammates tomorrow."
   Schodowski was "very pleased." He said, "All of us have trained hard for this."
   It was a pretty good day to jump. "So much training went into this, and we all want to give it our best for the big events like this one," he added.
   Elizabethton leads the boys after the first day's activities with 69 points, followed closely by the host school with 63 1/3. In third is Sullivan Central, only two points affront of Unicoi's 45 1/3 points.
   Happy Valley is three points behind sixth place University High's 15 points; University is only a third of a point behind Volunteer.
   Sullivan Central's 65 1/2 points lead the girls' standings, followed closely by Volunteer with 58. Sullivan North is in fourth with 47 1/2 points, only four arrear of Unicoi County's 51 1/2. The Cyclones are currently in fifth place with 33 points, but could surprise in the sprints and relays.
   Happy Valley has 13 points and University High is seventh with four.
   The two-mile run was won by Katie Stone, beating Happy Valley's Katie Williams.
   "She's so good and she's been winning for so long, it's a real honor to run with her," said the younger Katie, only a freshman for Sullivan Central; "and to beat her is a big honor, for sure."
   Williams finished second to Stone's 12 minutes - five seconds victory, but was, "Okay with it. I know I can run much better, and she is such a strong kicker, something I just didn't have today."
   Always looking forward, Williams continued, "Next week is also a really big event. I'll have to be even more ready then." 
   Williams has bettered Stone's winning time of Thursday by more than 10 seconds, so it isn't beyond reality for her to lower her time significantly while competing for the opportunity to run in the state meet later this month.
   "I know I have it in me, and this is certainly motivation to run better," she said. "I'll give it all I have and we'll see what happens in the regional."
   Volunteer's Helana Masters has also run 12:05 previously, and cannot be ruled out as a major player in the upcoming regional.
   "I was really fatigued all day before the race. I know I can do better. I'll be working so hard to win," said the Volunteer Falcons' junior.
   Elizabethton's John Ross finished third in the boys' two-mile run.
   "I'm so happy for Matt," said Ross. "He's raising the bar, and it's up to us to better our times. 
   Ross was referring to teammate Matt Young, who had just won the eight-lap event with an outstanding kick. 
   "John always pushes me to do better," said Young. "And (second place finisher) Todd Skelton is outstanding. I just tried to stay with him one lap at a time. I've had a pretty good kick all along, but I haven't really run well at all lately; so this is a big boost."
   Young continued, "But it doesn't get any easier from here on out. I know that Todd, John and many other outstanding runners are coming up, and I don't look at this as finished. We all want to win the regional."
   Cyclone freshman Joseph Basconi feels that he runs "in good company, for sure. We're all happy to see Matt get it going, especially now, and with the even bigger events coming up. Nobody works any harder than either Matt of John."
   In other events: Valnessha Redd won the triple jump, winning with a hop, skip and jump of 31 feet 9 1/2 inches. 
   "I owe all my victories to the Lord," she said. "He blesses me in getting it done every day." 
   Redd also won the long jump with a leap of 17-8, more than three full feet better than second-place Natasha Fletcher of Volunteer.
   Sullivan North's Newland finished third in the long jump and hopped her way to a strong second-place finish in the triple jump with a 29-8 effort.
   Virginia Cavaliers' fledging two-sport star and Valnessha's brother, Vince Redd, was in attendance Thursday.
   "He watches when he can, but he's awfully busy in college," said Valnessha. 
   Newland then went on to win the high jump for Volunteer.
   "I know I can do better in all events, and have done better," said the Raiders' senior. "But I'm very happy to win at least one event in my last conference final. We still have the relays tomorrow, and that's something we've really worked hard and prepared for. It should be a very interesting Friday." 
   Today the sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams take center stage.