Even on cruise control, C.J. Fritz remained several steps ahead of the competition.
The McCallie senior and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football signee won two individual sprint events and anchored the first-place 4x100 relay at Thursday's Division II-East regional track meet.
Only the top finisher in each event automatically qualifies for next week's Spring Fling state meet, but there are two at-large spots to be claimed once the Middle and West regional meets are finished.
In winning the 100-meter dash and in the final few feet of the sprint relay, Fritz glanced over his shoulder and eased up once he saw he was well ahead. He was pushed by teammates Alex Trotter and J.J. Lewis in the 200.
"I wanted to come out and run hard to make sure I qualified in as many events as I could," Fritz said. "Winning was the only way to make sure you qualify for next week, so that was the main goal today.
"The individual wins are nice, but I want to be able to help my team compete for a state championship next week."
McCallie's 4x200 relay team of Jyles Romer, Lewis, Myles Patton and Justin Badgett also took first place, and senior Ramsay Ritchie won the 1600, ensuring he will run in both distance events next week. Blue Tornado hurdler Jordan Ashe won the 110 hurdles but finished second in the 300 hurdles, meaning he will have to wait to see if his time in the latter event will earn an at-large berth.
Baylor junior Selena Popp, who will try to defend her state pentathlon championship Monday, won the girls' 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and teammate Kayla Hayes won the 200. Earlier this week Popp won the high jump and finished second in the triple jump.
"I'm pretty happy with how I performed today," Popp said. "It was tough with the head wind and it was kind of chilly conditions, so that's not ideal to run in. Now I'm just getting myself ready for a big week next week."
GPS sprinter Akia Harris won the 100, and teammate Sara Corum won the 800.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...