MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - From the time he began running competitively, six years ago, Ramsay Ritchie set a goal that one day he would win a 1600-meter state championship. In his last opportunity Friday night, the McCallie senior achieved that goal, pushing himself past what he thought he had left over the final 200 meters.
Ritchie's time of 4:18.21 narrowly edged Father Ryan's Ben Weisel, who finished in 4:18.69 for the Division II title.
"I came into today really focusing solely on the 1600 and just thinking about how long I've dreamed of winning this event," said Ritchie, who had finished second in the 1600 last year. "It's by far my favorite event, so to win a state title as a senior is very special for me.
"I was running for my life down the stretch and had to push myself pretty hard."
Ritchie's win was one of only two individual boys' state titles for a Chattanooga-area athlete, with Signal Mountain senior Chaz Hawkins successfully defending his Class A/AA 110 hurdles championship with a personal-best time of 14.63. Hawkins later finished second in the 300 hurdles, and Eagles teammate James McClellan was second in the shot put.
The only other boys' track state title for local athletes came when McCallie's 4x100 relay team of J.J. Lewis, Alex Trotter, Myles Patton and C.J. Fritz won in Division II with a school-record time of 42.27, breaking their own mark set earlier this season.
Earlier in the evening, Fritz stumbled out of the starting blocks, costing him a chance to repeat his individual title in the 100 meters. He closed late to finish second and later took third in the 200.
"I was frustrated after the 100," Fritz said. "I really wanted to win that one again, but I stumbled and drug my toe coming out of the blocks and never could recover.
"But to come back as a team and win the 4x100 the way we did, that makes the night a lot better."
Also in D-II, McCallie's Tons Ferguson finished second in the triple jump at 44 feet, 7.75 inches and Blue Tornado teammate Cam Walker was third in the shot put with a throw of 51 feet, 0.75 inches.
McCallie finished higher than any other area school in the team standings, taking fourth in D-II, while Signal Mountain was the highest-placing Division I area school, ending up ninth in A/AA.
In A/AA, Central's 4x200 team of seniors Jay Warren, Terry Tiller and Ja'Quarius Cole and sophomore Isyah Funk finished second, and Red Bank's Torran Davis was second in the high jump, clearing 6-4.
"We ran better tonight than we have all season, and if we would've had better handoffs we probably would've won it all," Cole said. "I think the adrenaline of being at the state meet really pushed us. We finished fifth last year, so this is a lot better feeling to go out on."
In AAA, Cleveland's Tyler Davis finished second in the 200 and anchored the second-place 4x100 relay that also included Will Hilliker, Stephen Cannon and T.J. Parker. Bradley Central's Harold Smith finished third in the 800, and Rhea County's Chase Sholl was third in the 110 hurdles.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.