MURFREESBORO – This was one track meet that meant significantly more to Kanellar Carney than any other.
Last week, Carney’s grandfather, Nathaniel Starnes, passed away. While on her last visit to see him, she promised him she would win the state pentathlon.
Monday, the East Literature star made good on that promise and captured the the A/AA title at the MTSU track and field stadium.
“He really wanted me to win state,” Carney, a sophomore, said. “Shortly before he died, I made him a promise that I would win.”
Carney, also the region champ, scored 3,450 points to finish ahead of her good friend Amia Butler of M.L. King Magnet, who scored 3,056 points.
Asked what he said after she made her promise, Carney said, “He said stay focused, and that’s what I did.”
Carney won the first event, the 100 hurdles, in a personal best 15.12. Then she had a monster 5-6 leap to win the high jump, another personal best as well as – by far – the best of any of the classifications Monday.
“The high jump (good for 830 points) was really big for me, and I did well in just about all the events,” Carney, who was second as a freshman last year, said.
Butler second: Butler scored a personal best with her 3,056 points and had a second-place finish behind Carney in the hurdles. She was third in the long jump.
“That was the first time I’ve gone over 3,000 points, and overall, I had a good day,” Bulter, who will be one of the key participants as MLK aims for the girls A/AA state team title Thursday when events resume. “I did pretty well in four of the five events, I was a little disappointed in the shot put.”
Asked about her competition with Carney, she said, “It’s a lot of fun, we train together and we go to a lot of meets together. College coaches at meets even come up to us and pass out their pamphlets to both of us.
“I guess we’ll compete hard against each other for our next two years in high school and even on into college too.”
East Lit freshman teammate Jada Curbeam finished sixth, and Maplewood freshman Tkesha Hagans placed eighth.
Gleaves wins AAA: Cane Ridge junior Janetra Gleaves limped to the finish line – literally – but still won the Class AAA girls pentathlon.
Gleaves became the first state champion for the relatively new Antioch school, but pulled a hamstring late in the final race, the 800, where she finished fourth. She still won the championship by a scant 13 points over Kyla Walker of White Station who was 81 points behind, going into the 800.
Gleaves finished with 3,430 points to 3,417 for Walker. Independence High senior Brittany Woods placed seventh.
“I am extremely proud to be the first at Cane Ridge to win a state championship,” Gleaves said. “It has been a goal of mine for some time. As for the (hamstring injury), I’ll go home and treat it, and I plan to be ready to run Thursday.”
FRA’s McKinney second in A/AA: Franklin Road Academy junior Abbie McKinney finished second behind Knoxville Webb’s Margorie Butler (3,462) in the AA/pentathlon.
“Overall, it great competing, it was so fun,” McKinney, who scored 3,123 points, said. “I had a personal best in shot put, which is usually my worst event.”
McKinney also tied for first in the high jump with Butler at 4-11¾.
“I’m going to train very hard over the next year and come back and try my best to win it next time,” McKinney said.
Erin Miller of Ensworth placed seventh.
Brentwood’s Lazas leads: Brentwood High senior Kevin Lazas was well on his way to a second straight decathlon title, running well ahead of the field after the first day.
Also, senior Blake Edwards of ML King was leading in the A/AA division after the first day, with teammate Cody Simons fifth.
The final five events are Tuesday.