Warriors focus in on state meet

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When the TSSAA Spring Fling Championships kick off next week in Murfreesboro, Warrior fans will have plenty to cheer about.
This year, the Warriors will be sending six athletes to the TSSAA state track and field meet to compete in the Small Class Division. The group of six is made up of junior Natalie Newsome, junior Charity Greene, sophomore Aubrie Caldwell, junior Jessica Earp, senior Kai Norman, and senior Austin Roark.
Over his twelve years with the team, Happy Valley head track and field coach Matt Estep said this is the most athletes he has had qualify for the state meet.
“It is a great thing for our program, especially, since our numbers were down this year,” said Estep. “It is an outstanding group of kids. When it is hard to get kids out here and its hard to get them to work hard, those are the kids right there, along with a few others, that make it worth it.”
Newsome, who will be competing in the pole vault, the 4×200 relay, and the 300-meter hurdles, is the first Happy Valley athlete since 2007 to qualify in multiple events and is the first female since 2002 to be eligible in various events.
“She has worked tremendously hard since she was a freshman,” said Estep. “She has worked herself into becoming a great athlete.”
For Newsome and her teammates, it will all be there first time competing at the state level, and Newsome wasn’t expecting to be going to the ‘Boro to compete in more than one event.
“It is a shock to me,” said Newsome. “I wasn’t expecting to make it in multiple events as a junior. I am proud of myself and everyone here. I have worked as hard as I can.”
The Happy Valley girls 4×200 relay, which is made up of Newsome, Earp, Greene, and Caldwell, will be the first Warriors relay team to make it to the state meet.
For a relay team to succeed, not only does each athlete have to be fast, but the group as a whole has to be able to jive well together, and Greene believes the Lady Warriors are ready to compete at the next level.
“You really have to work together with your handoffs,” said Greene. “It takes a lot of communication. Everybody has to work hard and be as fast as they can. We have all been able to work well as a team together, and we are excited to compete at state together.”
The four Lady Warriors punched their ticket to the state meet with a fourth-place finish during the TSSAA Small School East Sectional in Chattanooga. Earp said she remembers the moment the group found out there were heading to Murfreesboro.
“Everyone just started running towards Natalie, waters and everything, jumping on her,” said Earp. “Charity cried. It was just really exciting.”
Regardless of what happens at state, Caldwell said that this group of Warriors is a special bunch, and a lot of that has to do with how close they are as friends.
“We just have a good friendship and relationship,” said Caldwell. “We know that we can always be there for each other. And even if we don’t win at state, we know that we will still have our friendship.”
For Roark, who recently signed with Milligan College in track and field, this is the year that keeps on giving. The senior Warrior will be competing in the high jump after taking fourth in the East Sectional.
“I have been working since my sophomore year,” said Roark. “I wanted to make it to state every year, and every year I made it to substate and fell a little short. To finally get there is the best feeling ever.”
Norman will be competing in the triple jump, and Norman’s goals at state have little to do with himself and more to do with what he wants to accomplish for coach Estep.
“It feels amazing,” said Norman. “The main reason I wanted to go to state the past three years is because of my coach. He has pushed me. And now it is my goal to get him a state ring because he hasn’t had one yet.”
The Warriors will hit the field next Wednesday, May 23, at Dean A. Hayes Stadium on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

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