Banner Sports Writer
Twenty-two Bradley County individual students and one team will be making the journey to the TSSAA Spring Fling this week.
Twenty-one track and field participants will make the trip to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to compete in the TSSAA State Track and Field portion of the event while a lone Cleveland tennis player will make his stand at Old Fort State Park.
The Walker Valley Mustangs will also be making the trek for the state baseball tournament (See related story on this page).
Both Bradley Central and Cleveland high schools will be sending 10 representatives to compete in at the state meet, while a lone distance runner will represent Walker Valley.
“Ten kids is a pretty good number for us; it feels pretty solid. I wish we would have had a few more guys qualify, but overall I’m pretty pleased,” stated Cleveland head track coach Casey Price.
“For the past three years we have been pretty steady around 10 or so athletes. We’ve had a good contingent to go out and compete at the state level,” said Bradley Central’s head coach Larry Cotton.
Walker Valley’s head coach Jasen Parks explained that he has seen some good growth in his program this year, but the competition has grown as well.
“We had more kids come out this year, but I think the overall level of other programs was just at a higher caliber this season. As a result, we were down a little bit in regards to our kids qualifying for state.”
The Raiders will be sending up Shaun Qualls to participate in the 100-meter dash, Will Hilliker in the pole vault and Kayla Gash in discus.
A 4x400-meter relay team of Monica Allison, Hope Hass, Mira Migovich and Marrissa Langford, with Monika Zaldua as an alternate, and a 4x100 team of Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad, Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad, Migovich and Langford will also take the track for Cleveland.
Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad will also compete in the long jump and triple jump. Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad will be participating in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash and the pentathlon. Langford will be in the high jump and the 400-meter dash.
“The last two years have really picked up for us, and I think we are going to be very strong next season. We have almost everyone coming back. Shaun and Kayla are our only seniors, and they’ll be missed, but I’d say the forecast for our team is pretty positive,” Price said.
Bradley Central will be fielding an older squad at Murfreesboro.
James Stovall will be anchoring the Bears, competing in the triple jump, high jump, decathlon (for a second straight year) and the 4x200 relay. He will be joined in the relay by Justin Houston, Rue Goldston and Jeffrey Stokes. Stovall, Houston and Goldston were all members of the same team last year that finished sixth in the state.
Houston will also take part in the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. Rue Goldston will also be in the 110-meter hurdles and the decathlon, and Stokes will participate in the long jump.
The Bear’s will also sport a 4x800 meter relay team of Paul Patterson, Collin Gwaltney, Harold Smith and Akeem Humphrey, with Malik Temple as an alternate.
Smith will also take part in the 800-meter, and Humphrey will run the 400-meter dash.
Cydale Goldston will round out the Bradley crew and will be participating in the triple jump.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our guys are seniors this season and will be leaving us. So, next year looks like it might be a bit of a rebuilding year for us,” Cotton stated.
Walker Valley will have junior Patrick Shultz make the trip to run for the Mustangs.
Shultz will be running in the 3,200-meter and the 1,600-meter races.
“Patrick is a phenomenal kid. I’m glad we will be having him come back next year. He just continues to make drastic improvements,” expressed Parks.
The pentathlon and decathlon portions of the state meet will begin on Monday and wrap up Tuesday before the other events kick off on Wednesday, running until Friday afternoon.
Alex Klibisz will be the lone racket wielder as he represents Cleveland in the tennis portion of the Spring Fling.
Klibisz, a Raider senior, won the Region 3-AAA singles title last week and will be facing Sean Karl from Ravenwood in the first round of the individual state tournament on Thursday at Old Fort State Park in Murfreesboro.