By Trey Williams
Addisyn Rowe, Alex Crigger and Ben Varghese finished high school in a first-rate state of mind.
The seniors each won a state title last week in the TSSAA Class AAA meet in Murfreesboro.
Varghese (Daniel Boone) won the 3200 meters for the second straight year, Crigger (Science Hill) finished first in the 1600 and Rowe (David Crockett) won the high jump after finishing runner-up in 2016.
Rowe jumped 5-foot-6 to defeat Whitehaven’s Kiara Rhodes by four inches and give Crockett its first state champion since Brad Kyker won the shot put in 1999 – the year Rowe was born.
“It’s truly a blessing and I’m proud to represent Crockett,” said Rowe, who was also the Big Seven Conference player of the year in volleyball and has signed to play volleyball and compete in the high jump for Marshall University next year. “I still can’t believe I actually won. When I found out last year that the last state champ was the year I was born I knew I had to be the next one. And so from morning practices to jumping on a soaking-wet mat I made sure that would come true.”
Rowe is coached by her mother, Leigh Anne.
“My mom, aka Momma Rowe, is my biggest motivation to stay positive,” Rowe said, “and to do things I have the capability to do. Also to always challenge myself.”
Crigger, who has signed with Tennessee, won the mile at the state after losing to Varghese by six seconds in the sectional.
“I took the race out hard, like just like I wanted to,” Crigger said. “Going into the race I knew that it was going to be a fight with such a great field.”
Crigger defeated runner-up Conner Hawkins of Cookeville (4:17.97 to 4:19.43). He’s the Hilltoppers’ first track and field state champion since Hunter Boone won the triple jump in 2013, and the Science Hill boys’ first champion miler since Mark Brown in 1971. Allie Scalf (2009) and Whitney Spannuth (1992-93) have combined for three 1600-meter titles for the Lady ‘Toppers.
“It is kind of surreal to think about my name being permanently tied to a state championship title,” said Crigger, who credited his coaches and parents (David, Karen) for guidance and support.
Varghese rebounded impressively in the 3,200 after finishing sixth in the 1,600 and falling behind by some 10 seconds in the 3,200.
“I made a mistake during that race (the 1,600) that greatly affected me later on the last lap,” Varghese said. “My ability of going back to the 3,200 and winning it shows me that not one race will define what type of runner I am.”
Varghese, an East Tennessee State signee, won the 3,200 in back-to-back years after Boone’s Adam Barnard won back-to-back titles in the 1,600 in 2014-15. Barnard also won the 3,200 in 2015.
“I started running track for my middle school when I was in eighth grade and cross country when I was a freshman,” said Varghese, who also helped the Trailblazers’ 4×800 relay finish third. “But I started buying into running my sophomore year. … I strive to run to become one of the greatest runners to ever live. Along that journey there will be moments where I mess up but it’s OK, for I am only human. I’m very thankful for the positive influences in my life, especially the good Lord.”
The Daniel Boone boys team was able to finish in fifth place and they didn’t only get points from their runners. Pole vaulter Ryan Jacomet finished in fourth place in the pole vault for his final competition. Junior Noah Shelton bested his performance last year in the high jump by gaining fourth place, and finishing one point out of third place.
Sophomore pole vaulter Caitlin Cutshaw also finished in fourth place. Science Hill junior pole vaulter Julia Parr finished in seventh place, while Meredith Fullbright finished in 11th.
The Daniel Boone boys 4×800 meter team of Varghese, Zac Branham, Caleb Sells and Matt Huff finished with third place. Maria Chellah finished in sixth place in the 400-meter dash, while Science Hill sophomore Katy Neubert finished in 10th place. Her teammate, Julia Simpson finished in 11th place in the 3200 for the Lady Toppers.
For David Crockett, Daniela Palomino finished in seventh place in the discus throw.