Ever so slightly, there is a changing of the guard for Nashville track and field supremacy.
For sure, Montgomery Bell Academy and Brentwood Academy boys, along with the Brentwood Academy and Harpeth Hall girls are still up there – make no doubt.
But it is fun to watch up-and-coming teams like Ensworth and M.L. King start to blossom and go toe-to-toe with the kings and queens of the sport.
Most notable is Ensworth, a school on the rise in boys and particularly the girls, who both had strong showings in the 22nd Doug Hall Relays Saturday on the MBA track.
The girls were particularly impressive, finishing just one point behind winning BA, which won the event by finishing one position ahead of Ensworth (third place, ahead of Ensworth’s fourth) in the final event, the 4X400, to win the title in the all-relays event, 87-86. In the recent McCallie Relays, the two teams had tied. Harpeth Hall, champs the past two years, finished third at 67.
“It’s very exciting to see our team compete like this, going against the top dogs, we owe so much to coach Guy Avery,’’ said senior Adelaide Freeman, who will be part of Ensworth’s first graduating class next month.
“We’ve been underdogs for so long, and it’s nice to see us succeed on the upper level,’’ added Freeman, who will attend Delaware for college.
Freeman ran anchor leg on the Tigers’ winning 4X1600 and distance medley quartet and first leg where she opened a huge lead in the 4X800, all winning teams. She was named most outstanding girls athlete of the meet.
BA was led by a sparkling performance by Macey Conger, who was part of first-place Eagle finishes in the shuttle hurdles, high jump and pole vault, along with a fifth in the 4X100 relay. And Fallon Dickens ran anchor on the 4X400 team which clinched the title.
The M.L. King girls wound up fifth, thanks mainly to sophomore Kirstin Jones, freshman JaLyn Burr and eighth-grader Jasmine Owens, along with senior Emy Ufot, who anchored the winning 4X400 relay.
Hunters Lane grabbed fourth in the girls division, thanks mainly to the Warriors winning both the discus and shot put events. Senior LaQuoya Kelly led the way with 39-10 (shot) and 110-2 (disc) heaves. She was inspired by Matt Clay, who coaches the team in those events. Freshman Michelle Cummings was also part of both winning teams.
Unlike in a half-point loss to BA last year, MBA left no doubt, rolling to the boys title with 101 points, BA was second (85) and FRA third. Upstarts MLK and Ensworth were fourth and fifth.
Blake Edwards led MLK with a first overall in the Royals’ winning long jump performance with a 20-3½ leap. Also the quartet of Mike Wasserman, Nick Wynn, Ryan Graves and Stephen Wathen ran away with the 4X1600, more than a minute ahead of runner-up MBA.
“We have a solid group of runners, outstanding sophomores and a corps of good senior leaders,’’ said eighth-year coach Stephen Dorris.
Ensworth’s Duke DeLoache anchored an Ensworth quartet which smoked the field in the 4X800 event. “A lot of our team members play two sports, and our coach lets us play both, and that really helps us,’’ DeLoache said.
Said senior team member Adam O’Donnell (who is headed to Hampton-Sydney, Va.), “It’s nice to see us catch up with some of the other schools, people can’t overlook us any more.’’ Also, Ensworth’s Garrett Carmichael anchored both the winning distance medley and 4X800 relays.
MBA junior Baker Mulherin was named most outstanding boys athlete after he leaped 13-0 in the Big Red’s sweep of the record-setting (42 feet) pole vault (with Christian Waddey and Leland Howe). He added second-place finishes in the distance medley and middle distance medley events.
“The record in pole vault was special,’’ he said. “That got us off to a good start, and everyone really performed well.’’
Ryan seniors Kevin Carney (6-4) and Eric Collins (6-0) were 1-2 in the Irish’s win in the high jump event.
MBA’s Tyler Ramsden was a $500 scholarship recipient, winning out over 11 other nominees. And BA coach Charlie Harper and MBA coach Robert Pruitt received special recognition awards.
DAVIES OUT: A conspicuous absentee was two-time Hall MVP winner Ben Davies of BA, who is still out with a pulled hamstring. “”It’s really hard to watch from the sidelines, it could be three weeks or two months before I’m full speed,’’ said the Florida signee.
“Hopefully, he’s back for the decathlon regional, we’ll just see how it goes,’’ said coach Charlie Harper. “We think he will at least be able to throw the shot and disc.’’
GREAT EIGHT MEET: The annual Great Eight track meet will be held Tuesday afternoon at the Vanderbilt track, with field events beginning at 3 p.m. with the pole vault. Running events begin at 5.
The meet brings together the athletes from the Nashville and Midstate areas who have the eight best times and distances so far this spring. A boys and girls MVP award will be presented following the meet.
NEW COACHES: The new Cain Ridge High in Antioch has hired Overton’s Romie Reed (boys) and Hunters Lane’s Joanne Tribue (girls) as its new basketball coaches.
ISAACS SETS RECORD: Battle Ground Academy senior lefty David Isaacs set a school record for career wins with 24 last week when he pitched the Wildcats to a 6-1 win over DII rival MBA. Isaacs, who pitched a four-hitter, upped his record this season to 5-0.
HARPETH HALL SIGNEES: Five Harpeth Hall seniors will continue their athletic careers at the college level, four at Ivy League schools. Alison Geraghty will play lacrosse at Penn, Beth Binkley will play basketball at Princeton, Mary Killian will swim at Princeton, and Samantha Williams will swim for Brown. Maddie Garrett has signed to swim at UT.
RYAN SIGNEES: Father Ryan’s John Brown will sign Tuesday morning at the school library to play football with Carson-Newman. And Irish star Cole Gobbell will sign with Vol State Wednesday in the school library.
NBCA BANQUET: The Nashville Black Coaches Association’s annual awards banquet will be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at M.L. King Magnet School. The group will name their football, boys and girls basketball coaches of the year.
MAPLEWOOD PITCHER: Chris Simpson, who led Maplewood to the Class 4A football final last December, has turned his attention to baseball where he has lettered the past two years. Last week, Simpson collected his first win, scattering seven hits and striking out 10 in a 10-5 district win over Glencliff. Simpson is headed to Cumberland in Lebanon, Tenn., to play football.
COLUMBIA’S CARTWRIGHT DIES: Jim Cartwright, founder of the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association and its executive director from 1982-2006, died last week in his Columbia, Tenn., home, following a lengthy battle with cancer. Cartwright, 74, was a long-time head football coach of the Columbia Central Lions.