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Cowan qualifies for state in 3 events; Russell earns long-sought berth with PR

Tanner Cook • May 12, 2019 at 1:39 AM

KNOXVILLE — State bids were on the line Saturday at the TSSAA Section 1 track and field meet at Hardin Valley Academy.

The morning started off with the boys’ pole vault and some occasional rain showers, but the meet rolled on and the weather cooperated after the midpoint of the day.

The top four finishers in each event automatically qualified for the TSSAA meet in Murfreesboro in two weeks.

View the photo gallery from the meet


Sullivan South’s Madison Cowan qualified for the state meet in three events. The sophomore sensation won the long jump with a season-best 17-10.5, placed second in the triple jump (36-0.25) and tied for second in the high jump (5-2).

Cowan won’t have to mix in the hurdles in a few weeks, allowing her to focus more on the field events.

“It’s really exciting getting to qualify in all three,” she said. “I was worried about the weather affecting my jumping, but it turned out to be really good.”


Cherokee’s Harper Russell has been agonizingly close to qualifying for the state meet in track several times.

Saturday was finally her day to shine.

Russell finished fourth in the 800 in a massive personal best — by three seconds — of 2:16.70.

“It feels like a lot of hard work has finally paid off and I just want to give God all the glory,” Russell said. “I wasn’t even paying attention to the clock. I just told myself to go out there and race. ... I’m so grateful to race against all these great girls. I always come into track season a little bit behind and I’ve really made the 800 my event in high school. I’m so glad all this hard work has finally paid off.”


Science Hill freshman All-American Jenna Hutchins continued her storybook season with individual titles in the 1,600 and 800 meters. In the first race of the day, she dropped a 68-second final lap and a 33-second last 200 meters to beat out Dobyns-Bennett junior Sasha Neglia with a final time of 4:55.44.

Neglia finished second in 4:57.12.

Perhaps the race of the day, however, came in the 800. Hutchins erased the 35-year-old meet — and stadium record of 2:14.34 set by Rebecca Story in 2017. Hutchins’ time was a blistering 2:13.88, which ranks among the top 10 in the country for freshmen in the 800.


Science Hill senior Jeb Jones picked up a pair of runner-up finishes to Knox Catholic’s Jake Renfree in the 1,600 and 800. Renfree was the Foot Locker Cross Country national runner-up in the fall.

The longer distance race was a bit tactical and Jones finished in a modest 4:29.99.

His 800 was much better: He negative split the race (57.8 and then 57.1) for a time of 1:55.03.

“I felt pretty good. I ran the mile just to place and saved some for the 800,” Jones said. “I did great and I felt like I can go faster. I think I can get the school record, which I think is 1:54.3. ...

“I just went out on the back of Jake and I felt comfortable there. I tried to pass him in the turn, but he pulled back ahead in the straight and I couldn’t catch him,” Jones added. “He’s so fast.”


On the girls’ side, Volunteer’s Ashley Salyers had a personal best of 35-5.5 in the triple jump and finished third, and Cherokee’s Katie Biggs notched a fourth-place finish in the discus.

Mary Reed of Science Hill was third in the long jump (17-0), Jasmine Roberts of Elizabethton was runner-up in the shot put (37-8.75), and Halie Hawkins of Unicoi County and Caitlin Cutshall of Daniel Boone were second and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault, both clearing 10 feet.

In the girls’ running events, Neglia and Emma Russum both qualified in the 3,200. Neglia won the event in 10:35.70 and Russum was fourth in 11:18.38.

Cherokee’s Mataylin Goins came back strong in the 300 hurdles, finishing second in 46.52 after false-starting in the 100 hurdles to draw an automatic DQ.

In the relays, D-B qualified in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x800. Science Hill qualified in the 4x400 with a lean at the line for third by Reed as well as in the 4x800.

In boys field events, D-B’s Samuel Cleek and Daniel Boone’s Devin Mckenna qualified by placing third and fourth in the pole vault, respectively. They both cleared 13-6.

Boone’s Jeremiah Sullivan was runner-up in the discus (150-11), a toss that broke his own school record from two weeks ago.

Cleek and Tribe teammate Tanner Henry qualified in the high jump, clearing 6-2 and 6-0, respectively. Henry (third) and D-B’s Aziz Dunn (fourth) also qualified in the triple jump.

Science Hill’s Ekeminiabasi Eno-Ekefre was runner-up to Tennessee High’s Jayden Keller in the triple jump.

D-B’s Cade Salyers was runner-up in the shot put with a heave of 49-0.25.

In the running events, Jeamy Williams of D-B qualified in the 200 and 400 dashes, both as surprise runners-up. Dunn also qualified in the 200 at third.

Science Hill’s Aaron Jones was third in the 3,200 (9:48.16) and the Hilltoppers’ Connor Morgan was runner-up in the 300 hurdles in 40.68. Sullivan East’s Mason Hayworth was also a qualifier in third place in the 300 meter hurdles.

Both D-B and Science Hill qualified in the 4x200, the only local relays to qualify.

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