State Meet: A different view

Team recap
The 2003 South Carolina High School Track & Field State Championships took place on Saturday, May 10 in Columbia at Spring Valley High School. The A and AA meets started in the morning and action continued in the afternoon with the AAA and AAAA meets.

Johnsonville outscored second place team finisher Lamar and third place team finisher Thornwell with 105 points in girls A action. Lamar scored a total of 88 points while Thornwell acquired 69 points. In the A boys meet Lamar finished ahead of Hemingway with 127.5 points. Hemingway finished with 74.5 points. Finishing third in the A boys meet is St. John's.

Bishop England captured the girls AA team title over Blue Ridge. Emerald finished third. On the boys' side Edisto finished first over Chesterfield with 55 points. Chesterfield finished with 53 points, while Emerald finished in a close third with 52 points.

The heated girls AAA competition ended up with Dreher taking the team title over JL Mann, 99-90. Daniel finished third in the girls AAA competition. Eau Claire earned a close win over Broome in AAA boys action, 49-43. Holly Hill Roberts finished third in AAA boys action.

Northwestern captured the AAAA girls title over Spring Valley with 69 points. The Vikings obtained 65 points in AAAA girls action to take third. Beaufort rounded out the top three in the AAAA girls competition. Spring Valley's boys squad outscored Berkeley to capture the team title with 67.5 points. Ridgeview rounded out the top three in boys AAAA action.

Sara Young of Thornwell set a new state record in girls pole vault. The senior topped her old state record mark of 11'4", set last year after clearing 12'6.25." Young is attending Clemson University in the fall with Girls AAAA pole vault champion Beth Jordan. Young captured her second win of the day in the 100-meter hurdles. Hemingway captured the 400-meter relay title over Ninety-Six. Johnsonville finished first in the 3200-meter relay. In the final running event of the meet Lamar captured the 1600-meter relay title. On the boy's side Calhoun Falls captured the 400-meter relay title. Denmark-Olar captured the 3200-meter relay title and St. John's finished first in the 1600-meter relay.

In AA action Roz Johnson of Hanahan finished first in the boys shot put with a stellar best throw of 53'1." Matthew Cregger, a senior at Chapin, captured the 3200-meter boys title in 10:32.99. On the girls' side Blue Ridge captured the 400-meter relay title. Sarah Young finished first in the girls 100-meter hurdles for Liberty. Septima Glenn of Blue Ridge won individual titles in the 100, 200, and 400-meters. Glenn is also a member of Blue Ridge's first place 400-meter relay team. Brittany Whitaker finished first in the high jump for Blue Ridge. Whitaker has committed to Western Carolina. The senior hopes to study Physical Education as a Catamount. Brittany also finished first in the girls long jump.

"I've found that it's important not to dwell on the bad races you'll have, but to worry about what's in the future. Whatever you do just keep a perspective on life and have fun, because you only live it once."
--Donald Stouffer
Starting in mid-afternoon 3A and 4A action heated up. In the 3200-meter relay events, Wren captured the boys title over Riverside. In the girl's 3200 relay Greer ousted Greenville High in the last straightaway for the win. "Wow it was so HOT, I thought I was gonna die," said senior Red Raider Ashley McCauley. McCauley will attend Mars Hill in the fall. "After running now for Greenville High for six years I look back and laugh, just thinking about my great team and all the fun we had. My first state meet I ever ran in was with my 4x800 team in seventh grade and my last race with them in the 12th grade. I could not be more happy. I think running in College is gonna be different, but I am very excited." Wren's Sunday Ford captured titles in the 1600-meters and 3200-meters. Senior Hannah Wright also competed for Wren in the AAA girls meet. "Last year I only ran the 1600. I was second, so winning two events was very exciting," said Ford. "My goal was to run a very good mile and then do want I could to win the 3200. I wasn't really worried about my two mile time. I just wanted to win. I really had fun at state because I was out in front and there was not a lot of pressure on me. I was just running against the clock. I had a great season, but I was disappointed that several of our meets were cancelled because of rain. My goals are to defend my state titles, continue to get faster, and continue to have fun running." Elizabeth Embler (Travelers Rest) defended her title in the 800-meters while senior Eastside Eagle David Vass captured his first state title in the 800. "The state meet experience is incredible and I'm just living it up," said Vass. "Prior to this meet I've achieved everything I wanted in high school, but a state title. I wanted to go out with one for me and my coach," said Vass. "The 1600 relay was good considering our circumstances and we still ran our fastest time this year, and I also set an individual personal best of 53 (400) seconds. I felt a whole lot faster, but going into the second leg we were about five or six seconds down and there was a huge gap from the rest of the field. We had to work extra hard and we got excited and went out quick. In the 800, I had a bunch of my teammates cheering me on. That always helps. About the state meet, it seemed like everyone was in a zone, and I myself was in a zone so I didn't notice anything too much" said Vass. David is joining a strong South Carolina class next season at Spartanburg Methodist under head coach Eric Cummings. "The 4x800 lived up to its hype on both the AAAA and AAA boys side with an incredibly close 8:03 and 8:04 finish in AAAA," said Vass. Senior Warrior Joe Barnette captured the 3200 meter title in 10:22 following being a member of Riverside's 3200-meter relay team. "I was a little disappointed with my running at state, but I was happy with my season. I feel like I could have run better at state, it just wasn't my day at all. I'm really happy though, and excited I was able to compete in such a big race.
"I wanted to go out with one for me and my coach."
--David Vass
This summer my training plan is to do what my coach at Lees-McRae tells me to do," said Barnette. "He has lots of experience and knows what he's doing, so I feel that I will be very successful running in college. I hope that I can adjust well to the altitude, and have a great freshman year. Its mostly about transition right now, I have to get used to running 6.2 miles and 4.98 instead of the high school 5k. I ran 10:22 this year, and I just ran to win, but I feel like I'm definetly in sub 9:50 shape. I was prepared to go with anyone that challenged me." Donald Stouffer competed in the 1600 and 3200-meter races for North Myrtle Beach. "I am both dissapointed and happy. Happy that I ran good races when I had the chance and to meet the people I did," said Stouffer. "I am dissapointed at not getting my goals for the season or running well, when it counted. I've found that it's important not to dwell on the bad races you'll have, but to worry about what's in the future. Whatever you do just keep a perspective on life and have fun, because you only live it once." Brookland Cayce's Chase Shealy finished the season with a pole vault title. The senior will attend Arkansas State next season and received national exposure at meets such as the Nike Indoor Championships and the Virginia Tech Challenge during his 2003 campaign. Amberly Nesbitt led JL Mann (4 gold medals) with times of 11.66 in the 100, 23.99 in the 200 along with being a member of the Patriots 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. Throughout the 2003 season Judith Trevino of Eastside High School led the Eagles in the 400-meter relay, 1600-meter relay, along with taking a senior leadership position with sprinter Michelle Handy. "Eastside's girl's 4 x 400 team was seeded second going into the state meet so I thought we had a really good chance of winning a medal. I was really excited when we finished second and dropped five seconds off our best time. It was my last high school race ever so it was a good way to end it," said Eastside's Judith Trevino. "The best part of the State Meet this year was when David Vass won the 800m. He has worked really hard over the past five years. I'm extremely glad that all the hard work finally paid off. Most of the time when you are standing on the line as the second runner for the 4x400 team you look at the other runners who seem really intimidating and get kind of nervous. However, at the State Meet, I was standing there and Amberly (Nesbitt) from J.L Mann turned to me and said 'Come on Eastside, let's do it for Greenville County' because we were two of like three teams from Greenville. First of all, I felt honored to even be running in the same race as her because she is an awesome runner. What she said made me really happy and I felt more relaxed after that. Also after the race, when J.L. Mann got first and Eastside got second their whole team came up to us and said good job. I just thought that was really nice of them." Riverside senior Vicki Echeverria finished out her career with a strong showing. The Warrior suffered injuries throughout the season, but had courage to qualify for state and do her best in the meet.

[Embler, a sophomore at Travelers Rest discusses some of her ideas for track & field along with insight on her season.
1) Why doesn't someone organize a "meet of champions" in order to bring together the top two athletes from each class from the state championships? I.e. first and second from class A, first and second from class AA, etc. No one would lose their state champion status and the competition could produce some fast times. I ran easy at state because I wanted to win so badly I was afraid to go hard and chance dying and being caught. At a "meet of champions" there would be no state championship title at stake.
2) If we could only get non-track fans to come to one of our big meets we could convert them into fans. It is the greatest sport ever. Every person in a race can potentially come away with something positive. This is not so in most other popular sports such as football, baseball, or basketball. It is true in other individual sports. You have drama every five minutes at a track meet..
3) What will next year's indoor schedule be like? Do we have to get our school to sponsor a team? I really want to run! Indoor is great!.
4) I loved winning the 800 again! Track is a great sport! But I think my second favorite part of the meet was watching David Vass after he won the AAA 800 meters. He was so happy it was contagious..
5) I hope to get in really good shape this year and stay well. My dad says we are developing my running in "layers". The 2003 season I learned how to run the 800, especially the third 200. This coming year will be my first year to run more than 25 miles per week and to lift weights consistently. I am really looking forward to running some fast times next year. .
6) The state track meet was not just fun and scary but it was inspirational to watch all the great athletes who are also such great people. One of Travelers Rest athletes who did not compete at state, Sparkle Abercrombie, came to the meet to watch me run and was inspired to run cross country next year so she can be a better runner next spring. Sparkle never wanted to run more than 400 meters before. Thanks to all the competitors at state for being so motivating. Watch for Sparkle next year.
--Elizabeth Embler, Travelers Rest].

Beth Jordan finished out her high school pole vaulting career at Aiken High School with a win. "Going into my third state championship and with me being the reigning state champion of the class 4A I was extremely nervous about the meet, but also very excited. The state meet was exciting for me because it was my last chance to show how hard work pays off," said Aiken Hornet Beth Jordan. "I think that the extreme humidity and the hot temperature during the day played a key role in many athletes performances. I know just from being on the field at 3:30 in the afternoon (almost the hottest part of the day). It was hard to conserve my energy, drink enough water, and stay cool to keep my body ready for my next jump. I can only image what it felt like to be a distance runner during this time. I am glad that my senior season ended the way it did by winning the state championship again. I will miss being an Aiken High School Hornet just because of the many friends I have made and the great coaches I'll be leaving behind, but I look forward to continuing my pole vaulting career as a Lady Tiger. I feel confident that with the extra training and coaching that they can give me, it will help make me a better athlete. " Jordan signed with Clemson. Also competiting for Aiken was Michele Milner. " I did not have a very positive experience at the 2003 state championships. I did not come close to fulfilling the expectations I had for myself or running to my potential," said Milner. "I was very disappointed with how my high school running career ended, but I can not let this overshadow all the wonderful experiences that I have had through running. The great thing about the human psyche is that

"Going into my third state championship and with me being the reigning state champion of the class 4A I was extremely nervous about the meet, but also very excited. The state meet was exciting for me because it was my last chance to show how hard work pays off."
--Beth Jordan
"The great thing about the human psyche is that you seem to quickly forget the bad times and only remember the good times.."
--Michele Milner
you seem to quickly forget the bad times and only remember the good times. In a couple weeks, I will forget about my bad experience at state and reminisce about all the great experiences that I have had through running since the seventh grade. Now I look forward to bigger and better things and am excited about continuing my running career at Gardner-Webb University." Milner's sister, Marcie did not make it to the state meet, however, the twins will be attending Gardner-Webb University next season in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Kate Niehaus, a Spring Valley freshman, captured individual titles in the 1600- and 3200-meter events. "I thought that it (state meet) was a fun experience and it was great that the Spring Valley girls were runners-up (too bad we weren't first, though)," said Niehaus. "I found that track is different from cross-country because in cross-country, I was almost always warming up,stretching, doing strides, and waiting with my team members. In track individual people have to make the state meet, so you're by yourself in the in-field before and after your races. However, track's format made it easier for me to meet the other runners because I was in contact with them before and after the races. I got to meet several people who I had seen, but did not really know. I was really lucky that none of my soccer games conflicted with the meets leading up to the state meet. I did have several week-day meets that I had to come to straight from soccer practice, and I had a few week-end meets that were the day after soccer games. I was worried that I might be fatigued because of this busy schedule, but everything turned out ok. It is unfortunate and ironic that Angelina Blackmon was hurt for both the cross-country and track state meets. I don't know how either meet would have turned out if she had been there, because she is a tough competitor. Next year, however, I'm sure that she will be back! Overall, this year has been incredible for me; my life really has changed. I just hope that I can continue to improve in my running, and that I will have fun doing it!" Niehaus has been playing soccer throughout the track & field season. Niehaus holds the state meet best for girls in cross country. Kate also represented South Carolina at the 2002 Footlocker National Championships in December after qualifying at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. Summerville's Precious Akins finished first in the discus with a new state record throw of 143'2." Candice Johnson captured the girls 800 meter title. "I'm excited about winning," said Johnson. I just wish the competition could have been better. The weather was terrible and everyone's time were off." Johnson is a sophomore at Byrnes High School. Akins also captured the shot put title. Spring Valley High School's boys 4x800-meter relay team finished first over Ridge View in a state record time of 8:03.21. Ridgeview also surpassed the state record in 8:05.79. Irmo's Timothy Supplee finished second in the 3200-meters with a time of 9:59.23. "Before the 3200-meters, everyone that was running the event was just sitting around getting ready, just like any other meet," said Supplee. "We where talking and joking around. The race was hot even though the sun was down, and the back stretch was really windy. I tried to take off and leave the pack but Trevor (Beesley-Greenwood High School) went with me and I think we had a pretty good lead. With three laps to go I was feeling the heat and the wind. With one lap to go, I told myself that I wasn't going to get passed. I ran a 66 (estimate) last lap. Trevor (Beesley) got a big lead on me around the fourth lap. I just ran as hard as I could the last lap. I am going to run for Coastal Carolina next year and major in physical education. I'm excited about going. In conclusion I just went out there and had fun running the last race of my high school career." Trevor Beesley of Greenwood finished ahead of Supplee in 9:52.90.

End Note
Congratulations to all athletes throughout the 2003 season. Best of luck to all athletes in the future and good luck to all 2002-2003 South Carolina senior cross-country and track & field athletes. Thanks to A.C. Flora alumna Kenzie Lang and Eastside pole vaulter Melissa Vass for their continued help with scrunners throughout the state meet.