MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Scenic City's ownership of the Division II girls' state track championship is over. Chattanooga had dominated the D-II state title the previous seven years with Baylor winning the last four championships and GPS three straight before that.
But Brentwood Academy was simply too strong Thursday, with at least one athlete competing in 14 of the 18 events, while GPS had competitors in 12 events. There also were seven events in which Brentwood Academy had more than one competitor, and that depth helped carry the Lady Eagles to a 134-112 victory over the Bruisers, with Baylor finishing third with 90.5 at Middle Tennessee State University.
With two events remaining, GPS had a one-point lead over BA, but the Lady Eagles finished first, second and third in the 200-meter dash to take the lead and leave the Bruisers to settle for second for a third straight year.
But even without a team title, the state's most impressive individual athlete is still a Chattanoogan. While Howard's LaQuisha Jackson wasn't able to finish her stellar career at the state meet because of injury, GPS senior Tory Kemp stepped into the spotlight.
Kemp wrapped up an incredible career with a week few athletes could match. The North Carolina signee won all five events she entered, the state maximum, starting with Monday's pentathlon crown. She followed that Thursday by taking first place in the long jump and triple jump before lunch, then followed with championships in the 100-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles.
According to one TSSAA official, Kemp is the first female athlete to win five events in one season. Among local athletes, former Baylor star Willie Idlette claimed five state titles, but not in the same season.
"This is the biggest blessing I can imagine," Kemp said. "I can't think of a better way to finish my high school career. I just wanted to go hard in every event because I knew this was the end of my high school career and I wanted it to be memorable."
GPS junior sprinter Destinee Lansden got a great start out of the blocks, which propelled her to win the 100 meter dash in 12.25 seconds. She then won the 400 and finished fourth in the 200.
Baylor's Victoria Wicks was second to Kemp in the 300 hurdles, the Lady Raiders' 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams placed first and Lady Raiders freshman Kate Kaufman finished third in the pole vault.
"I was nervous, but I was also confident when I stepped into the blocks," Lansden said. "It's like Tory told us before we came out, it's our time to step up show what we can do. That's what I thought about before the race and what I tried to do."
Making her state meet debut, Central's Chancis Jones won the Class A/AA triple jump with a total distance of 36 feet, 10.5 inches and was second in the long jump.
"I was kind of tired for the long jump," Jones said. "I like jumping in the heat better, but I was a little tired for that as my second event.
"It will probably sink in when I hear people talking about it more. Right now it's hard for me to believe I'm a state champion. But I'm going to wear these medals everywhere I go today. I don't usually wear a lot of jewelry, but I'm wearing these for a while."
GPS senior Simone Busby, who had never placed worse than second in the discus in her career, finished a disppointing seventh but followed that with a strong state runner-up finish in the shot put.
McMinn County's Haley Ward won the Class AAA 3200 meters, and Cleveland's Kayla Gash was second in the discus.
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 ...