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Webb’s 400 state title the highlight, BHS boys track 4th in AAA
Despite no other top-4 state finishes, Prince says watch out for ’Dawgs in ’05 with strong lineup returning

MEMPHIS — Bryan Webb was a beacon of flashing light on an otherwise disappointing day for the Bearden High School boys track and field team at the Class AAA state meet Friday.

Webb’s state championship effort in the 400-meter run (48.57) — coming from behind during the final 125 meters to edge Kendrick O’Neal of Cordova (48.77) — was the Bulldogs’ only top-four finish out of 12 events BHS qualified for during the Class AAA state meet at Briarcrest Christian School.

Thanks to Webb’s 10 points in the 400, Bearden still managed a fourth-place state finish with 41 points, 14 behind state champion Cordova (55).

Bearden head coach Steven Prince started playing the “what-if” game. State champ Cordova entered the meet with only six state qualifiers, half of Bearden’s total of 12. “But the worst they did was (finish) second,” Prince said. “That was unbelievable. Everything went right for them.

“It was ours to win, too,” the coach added while including runner-up Houston (52 points) and third-place Hunters Lane (46) in the “what-if” mix. “I started thinking, just a couple more places on just a few things and we would have had sixty points. Last year we had fifty-five and got second, this year fifty-five won it.”


Webb described how his winning race unfolded: “I’d say about the first one-twenty-five (125-meters) I was making up the stagger on the field. Coming on the last one-twenty-five of the race, lane one (O’Neal), he made the stagger up on me, he passed me. So, coming down the home stretch I was in second-place. But I felt I had the strength to catch him, and that’s what I did. I caught him at the finish line. I was pretty confident.”

“That’s the first time anybody’s been ahead of Bryan with 100 yards to go,” Prince said, adding that Webb’s only “loss” in a 400 competition this season came when he false-started and was disqualified in the Volunteer Track Classic in April.


Behind Webb, Bearden’s next best efforts were a pair of fifth-place finishes from Jay Oatts in the 300 hurdles (40.03) and 110 hurdles (15.39), and fifth in the 4 X 800 (8:11.05) and 4 X 400 (3:29.17) relays.

As for Oatts, “he was running last in both, but he had the fire in his eyes,” Prince said. The coach also praised Stephen Shankles’ effort as the third leg of the 4 X 400, running a personal best time of 2:08. With Webb as the anchor, Billy Welsh and Patrick Shires were the other 4 X 800 runners.

“The guys’ 4 X 400 was a nice surprise, too,” Prince added about the foursome of Shires, Oatts, Welsh and Webb.


While noting that Cordova, Houston and Hunter’s Lane each lose several athletes to graduation, Prince added, “we had nothing but juniors and sophomores score the majority of our points.”

Though losing relay specialists Shires, Welsh, Shankles and Thaddeus Grace to graduation, “I’ve got three people waiting to take their place,” Prince said.

Long-jump/triple jump specialist Mondlane Harrison-Conwill, who is also lost to graduation, had to do sudden fill-in duty as the lead-off leg on Bearden’s 4 X 200 team. A team member failed to show up for the race according to Prince.

“So we went back (away from the track) and worked on hand-offs twenty minutes before the race,” Prince said. The 4 X 200 team finished seventh.


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