|UC duo headed to state |
MEMPHIS — Nik Brooks took the express lane to the finals of the high jump competition at the TSSAA Spring Fling State track meet.
Union City’s Nik Brooks clears the height of six feet, two inches to gain a berth into the TSSA State Track finals on Friday.
Meanwhile, Tony Wilkins had to wait before finding out that he, too, had earned a berth in the event’s state final.
Brooks, who was competing in just his fourth organized track meet Friday at the West Sectional, punched his ticket to Murfreesboro with a second-place finish in the event while Wilkins got in thanks to being one of the highest performers statewide not to place in the top two at the sectionals.
On Friday, Brooks cleared six feet, two inches for the first time in his brief track career on his second attempt at the height to secure the berth. Ripley’s Jeremy Hurdle made the same mark on his first try to gain first place.
Brooks, who was a part of the 2008 Twisters’ 37-0 state champion basketball squad, will now compete against nine others including Wilkins for the state high jump crown this Friday at 11 a.m. on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
“Here is a case of the guy with the least track experience on the team but a very competitive spirit making it to the final eight in the state,” first-year Twister track coach Darren Bowling said. “Had he been asked to come out for track earlier in his high school career, he could have been a heck of a track athlete over the course of four years.
“This week, I’m sure he’s going to work hard at trying to get that much higher and maybe add a couple inches to his jump at the state meet.”
All looked lost for Wilkins after Friday’s event. The senior finished in a tie for fourth Friday at a height of six feet. However, his best jump turned out to be good enough to get him into the state final thanks to it being tied for one of the top two heights that did not qualify from a sectional event.
“I’m glad to see that Tony made it into the state after all was said and done,” Bowling said. “As an athlete, you have good days and bad days and I think he was disappointed in his effort Friday, but it all worked out for the best with him getting another chance and that’s all one can ask for.
“I’m sure he’ll work hard and try to get prepared for a good finish in Murfreesboro.”
Otherwise at the West Sectional, six other UC thinclads were unable to move forward in seven events — though the team was able to accumulate 36.5 points, good enough for ninth place.
Furthermore, an error in scoring at the Region 7A-AA meet misled the Twister 400-meter relay team into thinking that they were to compete in sectionals.
The 800-meter relay team did compete, though, with the combination of Dexter Hopson, Markeem Ware, Scott Huff and Josh Nix placing eighth with a time of 1:36 flat.
UC’s team actually was ahead in the event after the first exchange with Hopson giving his foursome a slim lead at the time of the hand-off to Ware.
In individual track event action, Huff was unsuccessful in both of his attempts to make the state meet. The senior Twister finished fourth in the 300-meter high hurdles (43.83 seconds) and sixth in the 110-meter hurdles (16.18 seconds).
“To me, it appeared that Scott’s starts were off,” Bowling said. “It looked like he was struggling to find his stride between the starting line and that first hurdle in both events and that’s where you really have to take control in a hurdle race.”
In field event action, Wyatt Carr, who had to literally jump off the bus and make four consecutive throws in the discus after transportation problems delayed the UC team’s trek to Fairgrounds Stadium, finished fourth in that event and the shot put.
Carr’s best throw in the discus was 115 feet, 8 3/4 inches, while his best shot put heave was 40 feet, 10 inches.
Hopson also had to make four consecutive jumps in the long jump and he finished eighth in that event. However, Hopson did bounce back in the triple jump to earn a fifth-place finish with a best leap of 41 feet, 4 inches.
“It’s tough for those two guys to get off the bus and have to hustle to the events and then make four consecutive attempts,” Bowling commented. “However, that’s the way the ball bounces at times and it is up to the athlete to try and overcome those unfortunate circumstances. I feel really bad, especially, for Hopson and Huff as seniors.
“I know they are disappointed, as well, but to make it this far is an accomplishment in itself.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.