Top teams same, but UC’s Hopson offers valued finish

Top teams same, but UC’s Hopson offers valued finish
Top teams same, but UC’s Hopson offers valued finish

Union City’s Scott Huff leads the way in the 110-hurdles event during the Rotary Relays Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
The 31st annual Rotary Relays ended much like the 30th installment of the event did.
For starters, Fulton County’s Sharika Smith was awarded a Most Valuable Performer (running events) award.
Meanwhile, Dyersburg’s girls and Munford’s boys repeated their team triumphs from a year ago and Union City’s boys ended the meet in third for the second straight year.
However, there were a few twists along the way on the local front.
UC senior Dexter Hopson became the first local track entry since 2002 to claim the Most Valuable Field Performer award — with a first place in both the long jump and triple jump — while his female teammates showed vast improvement with the team up four spots from a year ago to fourth place.
Hopson, who finished as runner-up in both the long and triple-jump last year, accomplished the “valued” individual feat by adding nearly two feet to his long jump leap (20 feet, two inches) and three feet to his best triple jump attempt (40 feet, seven 1/2 inches) this year.
Hopson also assisted the Tornado relay team in a fourth-place finish in the 440-yard relay. He was also apart of the UC 880-yard relay team that would have gotten third if not for a disqualification.
“Dexter did a great job in the field events this evening,” UC track coach Darren Bowling said after the meet. “As a senior, he led the team by example and he also put gave us a great performance in the relay events that he participated in.”
The overall Union City effort was highlighted by a pair of other first-place finishes with Scott Huff taking the gold with a time of 15.25 seconds in the 110-meter high hurdles and Wyatt Carr the best competitor at a mark of 42 feet, 11 inches in the shot put.
Otherwise, in field events for the UC boys, Carr was second in the discus, with teammate Luke Sanderson sixth in the event, Tony Wilkins finished in third in the long jump and fourth in the high jump and Curtis Pitts took sixth in the high jump.
In track competition, the Twisters took third in the two-mile relay and sixth in the mile handoff run.
“This boys’ team is starting to show heart,” Bowling said after the event. “Our team is beginning to display a competitive spirit, which is what this sport is all about, in my opinion. I would liken it to a horse race in that the horse will run until it dies and that’s the mindset that a lot of good track and field athletes have.
“I hope that we can continue to make strides in our future meets and that this group continues to get a better understanding of the team concept that I am trying to employ here.”
The Union City boys finished the event with 79 team points, 62 markers off the total of the event’s champion Munford (141).
Meanwhile, Bolivar’s Connor Kessler accounted for 20 of his team’s 35 total points en route to earning the Most Valuable Running Events Performer award. Kessler won both the two-mile and one-mile individual runs.
On the girls’ side, Smith ran away, literally, with the top individual girls’ award.
The Western Kentucky University track signee put herself in a class of her own as the only female competitor to earn four Most Valuable Performer awards over the course of a career at the UC event, which is the longest running one of its kind in West Tennessee.
On the way to her third Most Valuable Running Performer award, Smith blew the field away in the 330-yard hurdles, finishing the event in 46 seconds flat, a full nine ticks ahead of UC’s Kierra Davis, the event’s silver medalist.
The senior Lady Pilot, who has a dozen Kentucky state titles to her credit, also took top honors in the 100-meter dash and 220-yard dash while claiming the gold medal in the triple jump for the second straight year.
Previously, Smith had won the top runner in 2003 (as a seventh-grader) and 2005. She also was named the Most Valuable Field Performer a year ago.
For the Lady Twisters, Davis led the way with the aforementioned second-place finish in the 330-hurdles, a third in the 110-meter hurdles and a sixth in the long jump.
Other locals placing individually included Union City’s Sharee Forrest (sixth in shot put), Raneesha Moffatt (third in discus), Micah Warford (third in high jump), Nakeia Powell (fourth in high jump), Shenisha Huff (fifth in the 110-hurdles) and South Fulton’s Brooke Kane (fourth in the shot put).
In girls’ relay team action, the Lady Twisters finished second in the 440, third in the 880, fifth in the two-mile and sixth in the mile.
SF’s relay team came in sixth in the 880.
“I’m extremely proud of these girls,” Bowling boasted. “It’s hard to pinpoint one outstanding performance by any of of my girls because they all stepped it up a level tonight.
“I guess I’m most proud of the team coming together and picking each other up and being ready to step in and substitute when a teammate was cramping or injured.”
On the whole, Union City’s girls improved their final point total by 30 points from last year’s total. Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans took their fifth victory in the last six Rotary Relays with ease, 53 points ahead of second-place Munford.
The Lady Cougars did get the individual hardware, though, with Krystal Williams awarded the Most Valuable Field Performer. Williams was first in the long jump and second in the triple jump.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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