Pearl-Cohn came up just shy of claiming the Class A/AA boys track and field team title at last year’s state meet in Murfreesboro.
The Firebirds, edged by defending champion Greeneville, are determined not to let it happen again.
“Last year we came up a little bit short, 1.5 points,” Pearl-Cohn senior Cameron Watkins said. “It’s been on our minds ever since — since May 24 of last year. We just want to make sure we come out and win going away this year.”
If next week’s performance is anything like Thursday’s Class A/AA Middle Sectional at Lipscomb Academy, Pearl-Cohn should be just fine.
“I think we’re in good shape to win it,” said junior Rontavius Groves, who finished second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.07 seconds. “Last year we fell short, but we’re going to get it this year.”
The heavily favored Firebirds dominated Thursday’s boys running events, sweeping the relays while also capturing wins in the 100-meter dash and the 400-meter run.
They finished the night with a 32.5-point advantage over second-place Hume-Fogg (79.5). Martin Luther King (79), Christ Presbyterian Academy (65) and Lipscomb rounded out the top five.
Watkins, who also won Wednesday’s long jump and finished runner-up in the triple jump, qualified for state in four events, including the decathlon.
“We’re trying to set the tone; make sure that we get to state with our minds right and a little motivation,” said Watkins, an Illinois football signee. “Coach (Andrew) Reynolds has been on our backs, making sure we do everything right and are technically sound.”
In girls action, East Nashville captured the team title with 126 points, while Martin Luther King (97), Hume-Fogg (89), Central Magnet (75.5) and Page (61) rounded out the top five.
The first-place Lady Eagles won the 100-meter hurdles, the 400-meter relay and the 300-meter hurdles, while Central Magnet standout Taylor Cuneo won three events, the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” Cuneo said. “I mean I’m always going to be nervous, but you’ve just got to trust in God and trust in yourself. I’m running three events (at state), so I know that will be challenging. I’m going to be against some tough competition. I’ll go in with a little bit of nerves, but I’m training hard and my teammates are pushing me all of the time.”
The top two finishers in each of Thursday’s events clinched spots in next week’s state meet, while the two best remaining times or distances from across the state will receive at-large bids.
4x800m: Central Magnet (9:55.33); Lipscomb (10:19.82); Creek Wood (10:22.04). 100m hurdles: Grenetria Shell (East Nashville) 15.11; D Sawyers (MLK) 15.78; K. Guthrie (Whites Creek) 15.80. 100m: Jermesia Haynes (Stratford) 12.33; Shaunta Shaw (Pearl-Cohn) 12.37; Nasonia DeBose (Hume-Fogg) 12.64. 4x200m: MLK (1:43.76); Hume-Fogg (1:48.85); Lipscomb (1:53.72). 1,600m: Taylor Cuneo (Central Magnet) 5:15.27; Hannah Whited (Central Magnet) 5:17.27; Keleah Shell (East Nashville) 5:32.06. 4x100m: East Nashville (49.17); Hume-Fogg (49.66); Stratford (50.82). 400m: Stephanie Brown (Hume-Fogg) 57.83; Micquana Webster (East Nashville) 58.56; Chloe Harp (Montgomery Central) 58.58. 300m hurdles: Grenetria Shell (East Nashville) 44.08; Dynasti Frierson (East Nashville) 47.95; Darreon Sawyers (MLK) 48.45. 800m: Taylor Cuneo (Central Magnet) 2:18.91; Claudia Smith (Central Magnet) 2:19.54; Lipscomb Academy (Katie Coker) 2:20.98. 200m: Shaunta Shaw (Pearl-Cohn) 25.47; Jermesia Haynes (Stratford) 25.49; Nasonia Dubose (Hume-Fogg) 26.50; 3,200m run: Taylor Cuneo (Central Magnet) 11:35.79; Rebekah Wich (Central Magnet) 11:42.81; Gigi Maddox (Page) 11:57.76. 4x400m: Hume-Fogg (4:02.72); East Nashville (4:09.56); Lipscomb Academy (4:17.14). Team scores: East Nashville (126); Martin Luther King (97); Hume-Fogg (89); Page (61).
4x800m: Central Magnet (8:37.83); MLK (8:40.36); Lipscomb (8:40.48). 110m hurdles: Ross Bagley (Maplewood) 15.31; William Stout (CPA) 15.66; Tyler Cathey (Lipscomb) 16.48. 100m: Cameron Watkins (Pearl-Cohn) 10.94; Corey Simmons (Stratford) 10.96; Jeremy McDowell (Maplewood) 10.96. 4x200m: Pearl-Cohn (1:29.02); MLK (1:30.40); Maplewood (1:30.57). 1,600m: Baker Neenan (Hume-Fogg) 4:32.12; Jared Clark (MLK) 4:32.81; Christopher Hornsby (MLK) 4:33.37. 4x100m: Pearl-Cohn (42.63), Stratford (43.18); CPA (43.80). 400m: Darryl Harris (Pearl-Cohn) 49.26; Trevon Sanders (Stratford) 51.07; Braxton Horner (Lipscomb) 51.93 300m hurdles: Jonathan Vincent (MLK) 40.39; Antoin Daniels Jr. (Pearl-Cohn) 41.31; Ben Waldecker (Central Magnet) 41.51. 800m: Drew McCullom (Lipscomb) 2:04.36; David Tyus (Hume-Fogg) 2:04.77; Christopher Hornsby (MLK) 2:04.81. 200m: Corey Simmons (21.84); Rontavius Groves (22.07); Jeremy McDowell (Maplewood) 22.19. 3,200m: Colin Lamb (Page) 9:58.28; Dominic Voeler (Hume-Fogg) 10:02.48; Baker Neenan (Hume-Fogg) 10:07.76. Team scores: Pearl-Cohn (112), Hume-Fogg (79.5), MLK (79), CPA (65), Lipscomb (64)
Reach Michael Murphy at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.