By Thomas Sellers Jr.
ARLINGTON – Under the guidance of veteran Head Track Coach Bernard Ivie and staff, the Munford Cougars brought 20 athletes to Sectionals this past weekend.
The Arlington High School field event stations were covered with Cougars in events from the High Jump to the Shot Put. Among the Munford athletes trying to reach the Class 3A State Meet in Murfreesboro May 24-25 was the history-making senior Blake Johnson.
Johnson will be busy this week practicing in the 2018 Tennessee Decathlon in Clarksville Thursday and Friday. The senior will be the first Cougar to compete in the decathlon.
“Blake is a multi-talented athlete,” Munford Track Coach Thomas Walters said. “He ran cross country and was our second best cross country runner. He does triple and long jumps. He can run sprints and he can run hurdles. He runs the 1500. And we found out at the decathlon he can pole vault a little bit.
“He has been very dedicated,” he continued. “He works very hard in the weight room. He started running in running events about three weeks ago. He actually has the second best 100m dash time on the team this year.”
Johnson had to overcome the odds to make school history. He didn’t start running in meets until the second half of the season after suffering a hamstring injury.
He needs strong legs to run four of the 10 decathlon events, 110m hurdles, 100m dash, 1500m run and 400m dash. The other six events Johnson will participate in are the Shot Put, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Discus and Pole Vault.
“I begged them to put me in it,” Johnson said. “I had to beg them. We had a real issue with pole vaulting. We don’t have those facilities at Munford High School.
“I didn’t even know we haven’t had anybody to go in the decathlon before until a couple days later,” he added. “Just to get there on the podium is my goal. It will be 12 athletes up there and the top 8 get on the podium.”
Another Munford athlete with a chance to get on the podium, in Murfreesboro will be sophomore Ciara Potter in the Long Jump.
“She went from a 15’6 long jumper, kind of struggled to find the jump board last year, to dramatic and continuous improvement,” Walters noted. “She has continued to improve the whole year to the point now she has jumped 18’4. She has broken Crystal Williams record which has stood for nine years.”
Walters noted Lady Cougars like Ally Browning, Deja Potter, Ayonna Lemons and Kayla Chapman set records and earned spots in multiple events at Sectionals. Some of the Cougars performing Saturday the Cunningham twins Kyree and Kylan in jumping events.
Several of the Cougars to reach Sectionals will be back next season trying to joining the ranks of Ciara Potter and Johnson. Johnson said he hopes his historic appearance in the Decathlon will inspire more Cougars to overcome the odds.
“I just hope that the future kids who come through, they’ll start letting them do the decathlon a little bit more,” he said. “Even though the pole vault is not very good for us.”
Day Two of the Decathlon will take place on the same date as another important event Johnson’s life. Munford High School is scheduled to graduate that evening on the football field.
“I should be able to make it back in time for the graduation,” Johnson concluded. “If I don’t, I’ve talked to the teachers who run it. They said they’ll hold it back for me if I am close enough to make it in time. You might see me hurdle through.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.