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Track sees eleven advance to sub-sectionals

A torrential downpour and the threat of even worse weather couldn’t hold the Longhorns back at last week’s Three Rivers Conference Track meet hosted at Sullivan North High School in Kingsport. Eleven competitors in all managed to bring in qualifying times and distances to move on to sub-sectionals in Greenville, including several impressive top 10 finishes.
Stephanie Coffey finished up ninth overall in the girls’ 100 meter dash, coming in with an impressive 14.12, nearly three tenths of a second ahead of Jenna Eaton from Happy Valley and well out front of several runners from Sullivan South and Unicoi. Coffey dropped back slightly in the 200 meter, taking 10th place with a finishing time of 29.49.
Because of her steadily improving performance throughout this season, Coach Penny Gentry made the decision to include Coffey in the sub-sectionals trip to try her hand against some of the more diversified talent at that will undoubtedly show up in Greeneville. “Stephanie has improved her time in at least one if not both of them in every meet she’s been in this year,” Gentry said.  “I think she tends to do better with the better competition and she was right there with them at conference.”
Also representing the female athletes from Johnson County was freshman Sidney Timbs who pulled an eighth place finish in the 300 meter hurdles, a feat that gave her second in her heat, and Tori Israel and Fernanda Flores who rounded out the top ten in the 400 meter dash. Israel also represented the Longhorns in the girls’ jumping events, taking 12th overall in the long jump at 11’ 8 1/2, a distance that tied with Sullivan South’s Haley Price and came in just a couple inches ahead of team mate Chloe Eller.
Yet as impressive as some of the girls’ scores were, the boys’ side of the team held some of the biggest surprises, none more so than the amazing second place shot put ranking that Colton Phillips earned from a 41’ 2’’ throw. Ranking between Sullivan South’s Kyle Bond in first place and Grant Ward in third, Phillips was nearly a foot ahead of the next in line and well out front of the distances set by Unicoi, Elizabethton, and Happy Valley.
Making the feat even more impressive was the fact that this was the very first time Phillips had ever thrown in an actual meet. “Colton is good,” said Coach Gentry. “That’s the first time that he had thrown all year as far as an actual competition so we were well pleased with that. It takes a lot of upper body strength to be able to throw that 12-pound ball. Of course he is a senior but we’ll take it.”
Another impressive ranking was Andy Rosado who came in third place in the triple jump at 33’ 9 1’2’’, five and a half inches ahead of Sullivan North’s Kevin Haynes and good enough to move on to the next level of competition. Rosado also got a top ten in the long jump, finishing up seventh while sophomores Aaron Steele and Dustin Jenkins placed 13th and 14th respectively. Freshman Zach Bauer earned a top ten in the 800 meter while Spencer Stanley fell just outside with an 11th place finish in the 400 meter.
In the longer distances Dante Bolognese finished 10th in the 3,200 meter, ahead of runners from East, North, Unicoi, and South while senior Patrick South took seventh place in the 200 meter dash along with Chris Blevins in 13th and Dillon Williams in 16th. An experienced runner in his own right, South was also a critical part of Johnson County’s 4×100 relay team who took second place with a very solid time of 47.05 “We’re excited about that,” Gentry said about the results.  “We usually have a pretty good 4×1 team in years past. We have both Patrick South and Andy Rosado that are running both the 4×1 and 4×2 so we have some consistent people there. Of course J.R. Speed is on the 4×1 team and possibly going to run the 4×2 because Dustin Jenkins got hurt in football practice.”
Speed has been possibly the biggest breakout star for Johnson County’s track team this year. Having won an earlier meet at Patrick Henry high school and taking third place overall at conference in Kingsport, Speed has proven that he can compete with just about anyone in the region. Proving that fact, Speed was invited to compete as Johnson County’s only representation at a special Times News Relays Meet hosted by Science Hill High School. Featuring only the best of the best for the entire East Tennessee Southwest Virginia area Speed was ranked sixth coming into the 100 meter dash and actually placed fifth overall.

“You had to be a top nine performer,” Gentry said about the meet.  “They were ranked on the previous times they had and it was a pretty good area that the people came from. J.R. was excited to go. He was a little disappointed because he didn’t get a personal record that night, but we were pleased that we had somebody in that to represent Johnson County.”
Overall Johnson County’s results at Conference were better than expected and with nearly a dozen athletes moving on sub-sectionals will certainly be exciting this year. Despite having only taken part in a handful of meets, Johnson County’s raw talent and dedication at practice has certainly shown through and hopefully this is only the beginning of more success to come.