High jumper first Warrior sectional champ since 2007

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2015

by Bryce Phillips

Star Staff


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Happy Valley junior Brianna Buck is making waves in a pond she never expected to be in.

Last Thursday, the 5’11″ high jumper placed first in the girls high jump event at the TSSAA East Sectional held at the Christian Academy of Knoxville. Buck recorded a jump of 5 feet, beating out 12 other athletes to stamp her ticket to the 2015 TSSAA State Track Meet in Murfreesborothis Thursday.

With her first place finish, Buck became the first Happy Valley Warrior to be a sectional champion since 2007.

“I was so excited,” Buck said. “The first thing I did was run up and hug my coach (Matt Estep). The assurance of me going to state made me really excited.”

However, the most remarkable thing about Buck’s performance in the high jump is the fact that this is her first year ever competing in track and field and in the high jump, two things that she was pushed into by friends.

Her successes have taken her by surprise.

“I thought I would be doing decent in it, but I never thought I would be doing as good as I am,” Buck said.

Buck started competing in the high jump after her coach Matt Estep thought her height would give her an advantage in the event. However, doing well in the high jump takes more than just being able to jump high; it takes really good form, something Buck learned from her fellow teammate, Emily Mathes, also a junior who used to compete in the high jump, but now runs in the hurdles event.

“I practice every day,” Buck said. “I work on arching my back and running.”

Practice may help her break the 5-foot barrier, and with the school record being 5 foot and 1 inch, the Lady Warrior has the 5 foot 2 inches mark in her sights. On a couple of occasions, Buck has almost cleared the 5-foot-2 goal. One of those times was during the East Sectional, but each time she has barely missed it.

“It’s weird,” Happy Valley track and field coach Matt Estep said. “She is always off by just a little bit. She will just barely nudge it with her foot or she will just barely catch it with her shoulder. She is going to have to be perfect, and she has a good chance Thursday.”

Since Jonathan Lyons won the boys sectional high jump in 2007, Happy Valley has not had anyone compete so well at the sectional level, Estep said.  And he feels Buck’s success is a big thing for the track and field program at Happy Valley.

“We are really excited,” he said. “I hope that she does really well. She is great kid, and she works hard. She deserves it.”

Going into the state meet, Buck is tied for second seed with Denia Hill-Tate of Martin Luther King High School, and Stephanie Brown of Hume Fogg Magnet High School. Dyersburg High School’s Myah Taylor sits in the top spot with a jump of 5 foot 4 inches

The girls high jump event will take place Thursday morning at 9 a.m.on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

This morning Buck will be heading to Murfreesboro, and she is nervous but excited at the same time.

“I really want to represent Happy Valley and the eastern part of Tennessee well,” Buck said. “I have a lot riding on my shoulders.”

For results on the state meet, visit elizabethton.com or pick up Friday’s edition of the Elizabethton Star.