By Steve Williams
A little past the midway point of the high school track and field season, Willington Wright of Hardin Valley Academy appears to be competing like he’s on a mission.
The Hawks’ senior was No. 1 in the state in three different events as of Friday, April 6, according to the Tennessee Runner MileSplit Outdoor Rankings.
Wright posted a time of 21.8 in the 200-meter dash at the Sevier County meet on March 20. He had a leap of 46 feet, 9½ inches in the triple jump at the HVA Invitational March 23-24. Then Wright turned in a sizzling 47.9 in the 400 at the Farragut Invitational March 31.
All three performances rank No. 1 from Memphis to the Tri-Cities of upper East Tennessee.
Wright has company on the list too from other Knox County athletes.
Bearden senior Joshua Sobota ranked No. 1 in the shot put event with a heave of 61 feet at the South Knoxville Classic last week.
Hardin Valley Academy has three relay teams with the state’s best times – its boys’ 4×400 (3:28.90) and 4×800 (8:22.51) and its girls’ 4×800 (9:51.69). All three of these times were posted at the Farragut Invitational.
The Austin-East boys’ 4×200 relay also ranks No. 1 in the state with its time of 1:29.83 that was clocked at the Knoxville West meet last week.
“Willington is the brother of our guy (Weldon Wright) that won state in triple jump and long jump a few years ago,” said Hardin Valley Coach Bryan Brown.
“Our 4×400 relay actually ran without Will (at Farragut Invitational), but with him on there, we finished sixth in the national indoor meet.”
Wright had a good year as a junior in 2017, but he has made a lot of progress in his times and distances since then.
At last spring’s KIL meet, Wright took first place in the 400 with a time of 50.44. He also placed second in the long jump (21-4¼) and second in the triple jump (44-4½).
In the state meet last May, Wright finished fourth in the triple jump (44-2) and ninth in the 400 (50.39).
The winning mark at the state last year in the triple jump was 48-3½, while a time of 48.18 was tops in the 400.
With Wright already having run faster than that in the 400 this season, he could be going after some gold at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro next month.
STORY TIME: Rebecca Story, Stanford signee from Christian Academy of Knoxville, was slated to make her outdoor season debut Friday in Oak Ridge.
“I am going to run my first race of the season at the Ben Martin Invitational (April 6),” she said. “I will be running at KIL next month. My coach is still deciding what other races I will be running this season.”
TSSAA HAS NEW classifications in track and field this year, with Large and Small for schools in Division I. Schools in Division II are classified Class AA and Class A, according to enrollment.
COMING UP: Two of the regular season’s biggest high school track and field events are around the corner, with the Volunteer Track Classic slated for April 20-21 at UT’s Tom Black Track and the annual KIL meet April 30 and May 1 at Hardin Valley Academy.