CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- GPS proved why it is the likely state favorite in Division II track with an impressive team victory at Friday's annual Optimist Meet at Walker Valley.
Led by sprinter Destinee Lansden, the Bruisers beat second-place Baylor 167.5 points to 150. Lansden won all four events she entered -- the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and the 4x100 relay, which she anchored. Senior Simone Busby won both the discus and shot put and Tori Kemp finished first in the 100 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles for the Bruisers.
"I felt OK with my distance considering it's still real early in the season," Busby said. "I've been doing this for so long, at this time of year I'm just concentrating on my technique. The distance will come after that."
Meanwhile, it was an evening of tough lessons learned for several of the area's top boys' track athletes.
Hixson has its best boys' sprint relay teams in more than a decade, but a penalty on the baton exchange disqualified what would have been an impressive win. And McCallie's Iman Isang, the area's top hurdler, won the 110-meter event but mistimed his jump on the fourth hurdle in the 300, recovering to finish a disappointing third.
"I would rather we make a mistake like that now so we can learn from it and continue to get better as the season goes," Hixson coach Houston White said, referring to the 4x200 team that posted the meet's fastest time but was disqualified when an exchange took place out of the designated zone.
Senior Clarencio Holmes, juniors Allante Novene and Tre Herkley and sophomore anchor Kevin Yates could become the school's first relay team to qualify for the state meet since 2000 when Daniel and Josh Bullocks highlighted a loaded team.
Hixson won the 4x100 in 43.82 seconds, and the 1:30.8 in the 4x200 would have been the fastest in the area this season by more than a second. The Wildcats finished second in the 4x400.
"We'll learn from our mistake and keep working toward our goal of qualifying for the state later this season," Holmes said. "We're still learning and this is just my second year to run track, so we can get a lot better."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...