After a surprisingly good showing at sub-sectionals in Greeneville, two members of Johnson Countys high school track and field team qualified to move on to the next level. Both senior Jacob Henson and sophomore J.R. Speed made the trip to the Christian Academy of Knoxville last week to compete in the A-AA Region 1 Sectional.
As his last name would imply, Speed competed in the 100-meter dash after taking third place the week before. Ironically, in his Knoxville run Speed came in just behind Ethan Thomas of Elizabethton and Jerrod Jinnette of Pigeon Forge, the same two that he had trouble with in Greeneville. At 11.72 seconds Speed was just a few hundredths behind the next two in line who both finished at 11.66. Unfortunately, even the top three seeds from this region could not keep up with the larger schools such as The Chattanooga School of Arts & Sciences or Fulton High, which came in first at 10.95.
Despite the loss, Speed simply seemed surprised to make it as far as he did, especially considering that it was a sport that he thought he would give a try without any real expectations. It helps me to move around, be quicker in basketball, Speed said. Im actually decent at it, so I was like, I might as well see what I can do with it. When I ran in the sectionals we were so close. I could have gone from 12th to 8th to 2nd by a hundredth of a second.
Another surprise in the sport came in the form of Jacob Henson. No one anticipated just how well Henson would do in an entirely new event. Trying the triple jump for the first time during the conference qualifying, Henson went on to take first not only there but in Greeneville as well. Amazingly, even against the toughest competition in all of East Tennessee, Henson was still able to come in third place, pulling off a huge 40 ft 2 inch final.
Everybody was getting 37-38 feet and I was up there in the 40s, Henson said. Theres even people that I saw last year in the state tournament that didnt make 40 feet so that was a very, very good jump.
However, only the top two spots move on to compete in Murfreesboro at the state level. Taviunta Trammell of Chattanooga Central took first place at 42ft 2in while Jarod Crenshaw from Alcoa made a surprisingly good jump at 41ft. 10in., leaving Henson just a foot away from qualifying. Even so, Johnson County still came in ahead of big schools like Gatlinburg-Pittman, Greeneville, and Chattanooga Christian.
I was a little disappointed, Henson said about the narrow qualifying. He just randomly jumped 41 ft and beat me out. I finished third. It wasnt my best but not too bad either. I just wished I could have moved on. I think Im one of the first triple jumpers weve had.
Henson has been known for his long jump ability for the past couple years, but this was the first time someone from Johnson County has gone so far in the triple. When asked what made him give it a try and whether he regretted not attempting it sooner, Henson explained that he simply didnt feel it was the right time.
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