'Clones storm to victory in relay

By Wes Holtsclaw

   CLINTON -- Familiar faces are returning to Memphis, while a host of local newcomers are looking to make names for themselves on a statewide level.
   In the 1-A/AA Region and Sectional track meet at Anderson County High School on Thursday, 12 local athletes earned trips to the TSSAA State Track Meet as part of the Spring Fling in Memphis, Tennessee next week.
   Katie Williams is the lone Happy Valley participant, earning another chance at a state championship in the 1,600-meter run.
   "It's been hot and that has been a task for those here," said Happy Valley coach Don Verran, whose young 4x400 relay team set a school mark but fell short of qualifying for state.
   The rest of the participants are Cyclones.
   Leading the way for the school's state title chances is the Elizabethton 4x800-meter relay team that clocked in at 8:37.4 seconds to take the regional event, and has been close to last year's winning state mark in the year.
   The crew of Evan Lindauer, Matt Young, Caleb and David McDaniel broke loose early and sailed to victory, leading by as much as a full front stretch during the race.
   Lindauer started off and quickly stretched out a big lead on the first of his two laps.
   One of two seniors on the team, Evan was pleased with the unit's marks.
   "Coming in I knew I could only have two more left, including today, so I was trying to help us get the best time," said Lindauer.
   "Coach put me first and I knew I had to get out there quick. I pushed it and went out there and used the abilities God gave me," he said.
   The team is confident in its chances at winning the state title.
   "If everybody runs to their full potential, we'll have a heck of a shot," said Matt Young.
   "We've got high hopes," Lindauer said. "Maybe we can come home with a state title. That's what we've been working for all season."
   Young also had a solid outing in the boys' 3,200-meter run by taking first place over Volunteer's Todd Skelton with a time of 10:18.79.
   Elizabethton's John Ross finished fifth in the race.
   "I feel all right with it," said Young of his run. "It's setting me up pretty good."
   Elizabethton's stellar female athlete, Valnessha Redd, won two events and finished in the top ten in two others.
   Redd won the triple jump (34'9") and long jump (17'8"), while finishing fourth in the 100-meter dash and tenth in the 100-meter hurdles.
   Elizabethton led during the girls 4x800 relay race, but slipped late. Jessica Carpenter helped hold off Christian Academy of Knoxville late to gain second place and a trip to state after Knox Carter pulled away victorious.
   The crew of Carpenter, Katie Presnell, Lindsey McAmis and Regina Basconi will be competitive in Memphis.
   For Happy Valley's strong relay performance, the girls 4x400, they finished just two seconds behind second-place Lenoir City.
   Samantha Canter, Ashley Flynn, Shannon Raines and Chelsi Whitlock set the school mark and was close in earning the nod to the Bluff City.
   "We just put them together and they haven't been running long," said Verran.
   Williams, a multiple-time state performer, finished third in the 3,200 meter run, but qualified again in the 1,600-meter run.
   Sullivan Central's Katye Stone placed first in both of those events, while Helania Masters of Volunteer was second in the earlier two-mile jaunt.
   The Chattanooga signee clocked in at 12:36.37 in the 3,200, while timing in at 5:43.00 in the 1,600-meter relay.
   "She's going through a slump right now," added the Lady Warrior coach of Williams, who is usually stronger in the events. "If she runs close to 5:16.00, she'll be in contention."
   Anderson County clinched the girls' team title before the halfway mark of the competition, with the closest team 70 points behind at the time.
   Austin-East, Fulton and Sullivan Central were also tough throughout the day.
   In field events, Elizabethton's Brad Osborne, who had already qualified in the decathlon, earned a trip to the shot put event at Briarcrest School with a distance of 46'6".
   He finished third in discus behind Sullivan Central's Chris Likens and Sullivan North's Josh Bentley.
   Bentley took first on the shot put, while Likens was third.
   Derek Nave was tenth in the shot put for the Cyclones.
   Elizabethton senior Adam Turley was also close to earning a nod to Memphis, placing third in the high jump with a mark of six feet which was just under Anderson County's Drew Jones and Fulton's DeMarcus Matthews.
   Happy Valley's Drew Davis finished fifth in the event with a five-foot-six jump.
   The Cyclones led the team rankings by 11 points over Central at the midway point in the afternoon and slumped behind Fulton and Anderson County during some events where they had no participants.
   One runner who helped Elizabethton with a big boost is sophomore Josh Jaynes, who will be making his first appearance in the boy's mile at state with a mark of 4:43.0.
   He finished behind Central's Chris Baldwin, who timed in at 4:41.80.
   "It was tough," said Jaynes of his run. "I was trying to hang on with (Baldwin). I figured if I threw a surge in, I might get in front of him. I'm just pleased that I'm going to state."
   Elizabethton's boys finished sixth in the 4x100 meter relay and led the 4x200 meter relay until the last stretch, finishing fifth.