Davis leads strong Raider finish
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
May 25, 2014 | 401 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print


MURFREESBORO — The 2014 Spring Fling ended on a high note for a number of local track and field athletes.

Cleveland’s boys finished out Friday with a total of four visits to the podium, three of which involved Tyler Davis.

“It was a lot of fun to end the way that we did. Everyone rallied around each other and it was a real team effort,” Cleveland coach Casey Price commented.

Davis got the day going with a distance of 21 feet, 7.5 inches in the long jump that earned him eighth place in the state for Division 1 Class AAA.

The Raiders also had junior Will Hilliker qualified for the state long jump, who finished 15th overall with a jump of 19 feet, 7 inches.

Cleveland had qualified for two events in the boys’ running finals, the 4x100-meter relay and the 200-meter dash.

Those two events garnered the Raiders a pair of state runner-up finishes to go along with the second place medal achieved by Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad in the girls’ long jump on Thursday.

The boys 4x100 relay team of Hilliker, Stephen Cannon, TJ Parker and Davis had finished fourth in the prelims Thursday with a time of 42.88.

Despite the sweltering near-90 degree temperature Friday evening, the quartet of runners were able to shave almost half a second off of their time and come in second place with a time of 42.59.

“We had a good feeling about the 4x100 going into the finals,” Price explained. “We ran a really smart race. Stephen Cannon ran a great leg and bolted down that back stretch, getting us into a great position,”Just three events later, Davis was back in action for the 200-meter dash, which marked his final race of the day.

Having finished fourth in the prelims on Thursday with a time of 22.36, Davis credited pure adrenaline with helping him power through and post a time of 21.96 in the 200-meter finals.

The improved time earned him a repeat trip to the second-place spot on the podium and also set a new school record, which had previously been held by Davis himself.

“It was that spur of the moment adrenaline that you gets out there,” Davis declared. “I rolled out the side of my calves a little bit so that I could relieve some of the soreness, but after that it was just adrenaline.”

Davis was the lone Cleveland boy to leave Murfreesboro with multiple medals, one of which he slightly preferred over the others.

“The 4x100 has been my favorite and is just a little bit above that 200 because it’s more of a team aspect. Our 4x100 hadn’t been to the finals in like 20 years, so it was a really good second place finish for us,” Davis explained.

Chris Ofori earned another medal for Cleveland in the field events, coming fifth in the triple jump finals after a jump of 45 feet, 1 inch.

“Chris’ first two jumps were not good and then on his third jump he hit the boards perfect,” Price said.

Ofori also competed in the high jump, and finished 13th overall after clearing 5 feet, 10 inches.

Dalten Mcdonald finished 12th overall in the discus, with a throw of 135 feet, 2 inches.

As a whole, the Cleveland boys racked up 21 team points and finished 11th in the state.

“That’s the highest point total that we’ve scored besides the two teams that won the state championship in 1977 and 1992,” Price stated.

The girls finished with 19 points and were in a three-way tie for 14th place overall.

Bradley Central, who had two runners competing in the finals, saw some big things happen at Dean A. Hayes stadium.

Going into the 1600-meter finals, senior Collin Gwaltney was expected to run well under his sectional time of 4:36.

Gwaltney did just that and was able to shave a few seconds off enough time to set a new PR of 4:29.34 and finish 10th overall.

Seeing his friend and teammate perform well at the state level pumped up Lee University signee Harold Smith.

Competing in his fourth state tournament, Smith blew past his sectional time of 1:57.41, putting up a time of 1:54.98 in the 800-meter race.

“I usually lead the race, and I didn’t do that this time. I just tried to stay, and then something told me to go. I wound up doing that, and it worked out fine,” Smith described.

Going along with that feeling earned Smith a third-place finish, all while setting a new personal record and new school record.

“I was pulling for the top three, and I wound up doing that so I’m happy,” Smith commented. “It gave me a little push and motivation knowing that my friend [Gwaltney] got under 4:30 in the mile. It’s a real blessing to have a teammate like that, and it’s been a good ride.”