Cyclone CC looks back on success

By Tim Chambers
star staff

  Thirty years elapsed from the time the 1974 Happy Valley boys basketball team won the state championship until Unaka boys brought the gold ball back to Carter County in March of 2004. Seven month later, Carter County earned their second state championship from the TSSAA of this century.
  The Elizabethton Cyclone gave one heck of a performance Saturday at Percy Warner State Park to capture the Class A/AA high school cross country state championship.
  "Not only did we win the state championship, the Cyclones were ranked fifth overall out of all the high school teams across the state," stated Presnell. "Only one AAA team was ranked above us."
  Presnell accomplished something this weekend that very few people have ever experienced. Not only did he coach the Cyclones to a state championship but he captured the discus state title in 1973.
  "I was never a great athlete so I just tried to work harder than everyone else," added Presnell. "But it's more satisfying as a coach to win it than as a player."
  "As a coach you get the opportunity to help someone else. You couldn't ask for a better group of kids to work with."
  Three Cyclones gathered all-state honors with Adam Greene, David McDaniel and Josh Jaynes leading the way. Greene came within an eyelash of winning the overall meet finishing four tenths of a second behind Jordan Longstreth of Chattanooga Arts & Science.
  "I wanted to improve on my ninth place finish but more than anything I wanted to win that team championship," stated Greene. "This just proves that hard work pays off and what a good coach Mr. Presnell is."
  McDaniel gave a stellar performance with an eighth place finish while earning all state honors.
  "Unaka winning the state championship in basketball helped me realize that a team from Carter County can win a state title," Presnell said. "Placing second on the team makes you feel really special because you know you made a huge contribution toward the title."
  Another runner who served as an inspiration for the Cyclones was Jaynes. He finished ninth overall which placed him on the all state team.
  "We tried to work together as a team," added Jaynes. "It hasn't sunk in yet as to what we have accomplished."
  Presnell knew the expectations were high coming into this season.
  "It wasn't like we surprised anyone with our performance," Presnell said. "We had won the Trailblazer Invitational besides the district and regional meets. I think people expected it but we still had to work hard to earn the title."
  Corey Henson proved his worth with a 20th place finish.
  "My goal was to win the state title so I knew that I had to step up," stated Henson. "It was more special that we won by such a large margin."
  Caleb McDaniel finished 38th out of 176 runners. "We accomplished this through hard work and dedication," he said. "I just give glory to God for everything that happened. I am thankful for all the people that supported us during the season."
  Joseph Basconi gave an outstanding performance with a 34th place finish.
  "This is something that we will appreciate 10 years down the road," added Basconi. "More than anything, I've enjoyed the journey we took to get here."
  The future looks bright for the orange and black with freshman Ryan Green stepping up at the varsity level. Greene earned the seventh and final varsity slot placing 48th overall in the state.
  "I was challenged all year long for the final slot," said Greene. "It's a special feeling coming in as a freshman and being a part of the state championship. I hope to win the individual title during my junior or senior season."
  Presnell said more was earned than just a state championship. "These kids have been good medicine for me," Presnell said. "I wouldn't feel no different about them had they not finished on top."
  "It's very rare you get this much talent in a 2A program. I've always tired to treat the kids that same, regardless of their ability. All of them deserve it."
  Each Cyclone fan and the city of Elizabethton needs to embrace these kids for the recognition given to our town. Unlike Unaka's basketball team, they didn't receive a parade, nor was television cameras there.