ROGERSVILLE — The 2017-18 school year was the best in recent memory for Hawkins County high schools, which had nine athletes qualify for state competition, seven of whom returned with All State honors.
Track athletes from both Cherokee and Volunteer who qualified for the state meet were honored Thursday by the Hawkins County Board of Education, as were TMSAA state track meet qualifiers from Church Hill Middle and Surgoinsville Middle.
Volunteer track coach Jim Ailshie pointed out to the BOE that Hawkins County compared favorably to some of its rivals in nearby counties with regard to its performance at the state meet.
“We had nine athletes who qualified for the state meet, and there are 45 teams in our sectional. The top four in each individual event and the top four for each relay qualify for the state, and we had nine,” Aishie said. “To place that in perspective, Hamblen County sent one athlete. ... Tennessee High didn’t have any, Dobyns-Bennett had four All State track athletes, and we had seven (All State) from Hawkins County. Cherokee and Church Hill Middle, Surgoinsville Middle, Rogersville Middle, Rogersville City School —- all these feeder programs are doing a tremendous job.”
Volunteer High School
Ailshie introduced his six state athletes to the BOE:
A graduating senior, Christian is a two-time state qualifier and this past season competed in the 100 meter hurdles, breaking her own school record. She is also a member of the school record 4x100 relay team and is a five time Big 7 Conference champion. She earned a track scholarship from King University.
The freshman finished seventh in the triple jump at the state meet with a season best effort of 35 feet, 2 inches, earning her All State honors. She was also Big 7 Conference champion in the triple jump and 4x100 meter relay.
She was also a member of the school record 4x100 relay team and is ranked as a top returning triple jumper in the state.
The boys 4x100 relay
The 4x100 relay team comprised of Rayshawn Simmons, Braydon Ragsdale, Andrew Murph and Zane Weston finished eighth in the state meet, breaking the school record.
Murph was also a Big 7 Conference runner-up in the 400 meter, and is a top returning 400 meter runners in the state.
A graduating senior, Weston earned a track scholarship from Tennessee Wesleyan University.
A graduating senior, Ragsdale earned a track scholarship from King University and also medaled in cross country events during the fall season.
Simmons, who was the relay anchor, was a top three freshman in the state in the 400 meters.
Cherokee track coach Chad Laster introduced his three state track athletes to the BOE.
“Before this year, we only had four females ever make it to the state championship in the history of our school, and this year we had three all in one year, as that’s a pretty awesome thing for us,” Laster said.
A graduating senior, Nielson competed int he shot put. She won the Texas Roadhouse Invitational and is a two-time county class champion.
She finished fourth in the TSSAA sectional meet to qualify for the state meet, where she finished 13th. She is also a 4.0 GPA student and received King University’s Liston Family Scholarship, a four-year tuition award to compete in track and field.
As a freshman this past year, Biggs won the county class track meet in the discus throw and finished fourth at the TSSAA sectional meet to qualify for the state, where she made it to the finals and finished sixth. She was also All State in the discus throw.
As a junior this past school year, Goins broke Cherokee's 31-year-old school record in the 300 meter hurdles, surpassing it by more than three seconds, and also holds school records in the pentathlon, sprint medley relay and the 4x200 meter relay.
She was also the conference champion in 100 meter hurdles and is the first female in Cherokee history to win the conference title in the 300 meter hurdles and the pentathlon.
She was third in the TSSAA sectionals in the 300 meter hurdles and finished seventh in the state, earning All State honors in that event. She is also the first female from Cherokee to earn All State honors in a running event.
Church Hill Middle
Church Hill Middle School girls finished ninth overall at the TMSAA state meet, which was their best finish ever.
CHMS track coach Autumn Spencer introduced her TMSAA state meet athletes to the BOE:
Emily Christian was the TMSAA state champion in the long jump and also received all-state honors in the 200 meters with an eighth place finish.
Elise McKinney finished fifth in the 800 meters to earn All-State honors.
Alyssa Chappell finished eighth in the high jump to earn All-State honors.
The girls 4x400 relay team finished fifth. Team members included Emily Christian, Elise McKinney, Taylor Castle and Alyssa Chappell, each of whom received All State honors.
Payton Gibson, Jayden Kubecka, Sara Winegar and Alyssa Chappell finished 13th in the 4x200 relay.
Taylor Castle was 11th in the 400 meters.
Sara Winegar was 13th in the 100 meter hurdles.
Dawson Dykes was ninth in the long jump.
Surgoinsville Middle School
Nia Ailshie finished 11th in the 100 meter hurdles.