J.R. Speed takes first in 100-meter dash
By Jonathan PleasantAfter weeks of training and practice, the Johnson County High School track team took part in their first meet of the season. Traveling to Patrick Henry High School in Glade Springs Virginia, the Longhorns were just one of several regional teams to attend the annual Judy Thomas Invitational. Facing an extremely talented pool of competition in all events, Johnson County’s athletes did surprisingly well in several fields, taking home numerous top 20 finishes as well as one major first place position.
That achievement went to J.R. Speed in the boys’ 100-meter dash. Running an 11.41, Speed bested more than 20 other runners from much large schools like Marion, Chilhowie, George Wythe, and Galax. Entering the race as a seventh seed, few expected Speed to do so well, leaving Johnson County fans pleasantly surprised. “J.R. finished first and did wonderful,” beamed Coach Penny Gentry. “He wasn’t expected to win first but he’s cut his time by about two tenths of a second from last year, so he’s really improved.”
Speed himself seemed both shocked and proud of his first official track victory. “That was the first meet where I actually won the whole thing,” Speed began. “I’ve never done that before. I’ve came in second and third a lot of times but I’ve never won the whole thing and there was some good competition. I wasn’t predicted to win it but I just had a good run. It’s a big mental thing and has a lot to do with your breathing, honestly. It’s definitely mental, trying to get yourself focused on the task at hand.”
For the girls events, Stephanie Coffey got a top 20 finish in the 100 meter dash, coming in 14th with a final time of 14.37, just a few seconds ahead of teammate Fernanda Flores at 16.56 Coffey also ran the 200 meter, earning a respectable final time of 30.12, ahead of Tori Israel with 36.15. In the longer events Zack Bauer did the best for Johnson County, wrapping up the 800-meter race at 2.34.08.
In field events the Longhorns had several long jumpers including Aaron Steele and Andy Rosado for the boys as well as Tori Israel and Chloe Eller on the girls side. Rosado finished with the longest distance for Johnson County at 16’, 11’’ added to a 12th place finish in the triple jump with a final distance of 36’, .5”. For the girls, Eller took the top spot, jumping 11’, 3.75” overall.
While the Longhorns didn’t dominate every event they took part in, the meet certainly wasn’t a bad one for Johnson County. Considering it was the first official time competing alongside athletes from other schools, the Longhorns seemed to handle things pretty well. “It was the first meet,” Coach Gentry emphasized. “We had improved scores from last year. Chris Blevins improved his score, Stephanie Coffey improved her score. That’s was we were aiming at, to try to get a baseline and aim to improve our scores each meet. That’s what our goal is going into conference. When you’re competing against competition like this it makes our runners perform better and step up their efforts. Virginia High School, Marion, there were some very good teams here and we hung in there and stuck with them. I’m very impressed with our results.”