E.A. Sports Today

Fastest man in town

Piedmont’s Savage wins both sprints in County Meet to claim ‘fastest man’ distinction

Piedmont's C.J. Savage races to the wire for one of his two sprints wins Tuesday. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography).

Piedmont’s C.J. Savage races to the wire for one of his two sprints wins Tuesday. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography).

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Go right ahead, you can call Piedmont’s C.J. Savage the fastest man in the county.

As if he weren’t considered it already, Savage formally laid claim to that distinction Tuesday after winning the 100 and 200 in the Calhoun County Track & Field Championships at Jacksonville State.

The Bulldogs senior won the 100 in 11.06 and the 200 in 21.99. According to the best records available, the last male to win both sprints in the County Meet was Saks’ Brandon Johnson in 2010.

Savage and teammate Denard Spears traded 1-2 in the two events last year.

“Today was his day,” Piedmont coach Mark Mitchell said. “What means something to me is how hard C.J. tried and he won and he proved himself out there. He doesn’t do a lot of talking; he just goes out and competes. Today has just been a good day for him.”

The notion of being called the fastest man in town is nice in quiet times, but Savage said he couldn’t concentrate on it “too much,” because you never know what’s waiting around the next corner. He lost for the first time this season just last week when he finished second in the 200 in Scottsboro to Jarek Taylor of Bob Jones.

What weighs bigger on his mind is helping the Bulldogs win another state championship.

“That is important to me,” he said. “This is my last year. I ended the football season with a bang and basketball season (in the state championship game) and now track season trying to get a three-peat, so that’s important to me.”

RECORD SETTER: It took a while to sink in, but Jacksonville’s Rebecca Hearn smashed a County Meet record when she lapped the field in winning the girls 3200.

The ninth-grader won the race in 11:53.12 and won by nearly two minutes. She smashed the record set by good friend and current Donoho coach Megan Williams in 2007.

“I don’t know if I believe it yet, but someone told me that,” said Hearn, the reigning County girls cross-country champion Hearn said. “I don’t think my mom or dad wanted me to know that going into the race just so it wouldn’t mess with me and put on any extra pressure, but when I heard that afterward I was really excited.”

The time she ran Tuesday was 12-hundreths of a second faster than she posted at a meeting in Albertville last month. She was so far out front the only way to stay interested was catch up to the next pack she was going to lap.

“I felt really good that first mile and my splits were good,” she said. “We were trying to keep them all under 1:30, aiming for around 1:28. I think the sixth one went up to 1:35 so that was a little tough, but we know those fifth and sixth laps are the hardest. I just tried to get that down under 30. I think I got it down the last lap.”

PHOTO FINISH: The best race of the day was the boys 3,200 where Pleasant Valley freshman Matisse Miller nipped Anniston junior Zebadee Lunsford at the finish by two-hundreths of a second.

It was so close, meet officials had to use the finish-line camera to determine the winner.

Earlier in the day, Lunsford edged Miller by less than two seconds in the 1600. He also won the 800.

At the start of the race Lunsford hung off Miller’s pace like a predator sizing up his prey and they traded the lead several times during the race. Lunsford was out front coming down the stretch, but Miller made a final dash and jumped the reigning county cross-country champion at the wire.

“He outran me in the mile and I promised Coach I wasn’t going to let him do it again to me,” Miller said. “I knew he had a big kick. I had him all the way down the stretch, then he passed me up, and I came right at the finish line and jumped across.”

Lunsford thought he had won the race and threw his arms up as he crossed the line. But the camera showed a different result.

“I thought I won, but looks can be deceiving,” Lunsford said. “I was kind of sad, but a race is a race. Usain Bolt doesn’t win them all the time.”

ARTFUL RUNNER: If Miller is an emerging talent on the local running scene as Lunsford and PV coach Brad Hood suggest, it’d be good to get to know him now.

He is a former swimmer who only began training to run five months ago. He didn’t run cross country last fall and never ran more than a mile until Hood stuck him in the 3200 at the state indoor meet. He ran 11:03.47 and finished 10th.

He has a Boston Strong tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate his love for the Red Sox and honor the memory of the Marathon bombing victims. He got the body art two weeks after the bombing.

Oh, and that name. Yes, it’s art inspired.

“My dad used to be into art, photography … I guess he just liked the name,” Miller said. “I’ve got four names – Matisse Elijah Da Vinci. My mother wanted to name me Mathew Elijah. My dad just liked Matisse and Da Vinci for all the art, I guess.”

BACK ON TRACK: Things are looking up for Dreek Thompson after being “in the wrong place at the wrong time” earlier this year kept the Piedmont senior out of competition for several months.

He won two events in the County Meet and on Friday he’s signing to play football at Miles College. He won the high jump and triple jump Tuesday, and finished second in the long jump (to Savage).

“It’s real exciting to be able to come back for my team, be free and not have all that other stuff over me,” he said.

Interestingly, in the third game next football season, Thompson will run up against Savage (and several other Calhoun County athletes) when the Bears play West Alabama. They both were excited about the prospect of perhaps defending each other.




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