June 5, 2015
Father Ryan High School’s Ben Weisel won state championships in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter races at the recent TSSAA Spring Fling Division II track and field meet and led the Irish to a tie for second place in the team standings, the highest finish in school history.
Father Ryan’s 4 x 200-meter relay team of seniors Quinn Robinson, Michael Callari, Jack Shoulders and junior Bryce Vickers also won a state championship.
“That was amazing,” Weisel said of accepting the state runner-up trophy with his teammates. “To be able to celebrate with all my teammates probably meant more than the individual award. To see Coach (Doug) Jones and our other coaches and give them that trophy was an amazing feeling.”
The week before the Spring Fling, Father Ryan’s team had an off showing at the regional meet, Jones said. “Coming out of this region is brutal. … The competition level … is really tough.”
But despite not running as well as they hoped, the Irish were able to qualify a lot of people for the team meet, Jones noted. “That’s the only way to do well at state.”
A week later in Murfreesboro for Spring Fling, “everything that didn’t go well at regions went great,” Jones said.
Chief among them was the performance by Weisel, who has signed to continue running track and cross country at Belmont University in Nashville. “He’s definitely one of the best runners in the state right now,” Jones said. “Belmont got a steal.”
Weisel started the day by finishing third in the 800-meter race. Next up was his specialty, the 1600. “The 1600 is the one race I feel I do best at, I looked forward to that,” said Weisel, who graduated from St. Rose of Lima School in Murfreesboro. After his freshman year at Father Ryan, his family moved to Nashville and they are now parishioners at Christ the King Church.
Weisel came into the 1600 and 3200 races as the favorite. The pace for the 1600 started slow, which played to the strength of Weisel, who has a strong kick, Jones said.
Weisel learned a lot from his second place finish in the 1600 at the state meet last year. He let the leaders get a little too far ahead of him last year and started his kick a little too late, he said. “It taught me a lot last year.”
This time, he stayed close enough to the leaders that when it was time to go to his kick he was able to pull away for the win. “It was a great feeling. It was a culmination of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Weisel didn’t have much time to celebrate. He next had to run the 3200, where he again entered the favorite. Again a slow early pace played to Weisel’s strength.
“After running the 1600 and 800, I was exhausted. The 3200 is always a tough run for me,” Weisel said. “I just hung in there with the leaders for as long as I could. On the seventh or eighth lap felt decent enough to pull it out.”
To run those three races in close proximity takes will power, Weisel said. “You’ve got to keep telling yourself you’re all right and get yourself prepared mentally to go again.”
Weisel wasn’t the only Ryan runner piling up team points. Callari, who owns the school record in the long jump, finished fourth to give the Irish some team points from the field events.
Callari also finished third in both the 100 and 200 meter races. In the 400 meter race, Shoulders finished fourth and junior Ethan Jackson fifth. Senior Andrew Triplett finished sixth in the 300-meter.
Father Ryan also had success in the relay races, finishing sixth in the 4 x 100 and seventh in the 4 x 800.
The 4 x 200 became the team’s third state champion. “It wasn’t really close,” Jones said.
The team had come into the state meet with the second best time behind Montgomery Bell Academy. “Earlier in the season, we couldn’t seem to get the hand off right. Were able to do a better job of that at the state,” Jones said. “We had four really fast guys. We knew if we could get clean handoffs, we would do well.”
Although Brentwood Academy had wrapped up the team championship, Father Ryan was battling for second place with MBA. It came down to the final event, the 4 x 400 race, Jones said. Ryan had a four-point lead over MBA and had to finish no worse than one place behind the Big Red to secure second place by themselves.
“MBA had a really good (relay) team. They were the top seed coming in. (University School of Nashville) also had a really good team,” Jones said. “It ended up being a three team race.”
Ryan’s team, which included the ironman Weisel, set a school record by a second and finished third behind MBA and USN, which both also set school records, Jones said. That left Ryan and MBA tied for second in the team standings with 76 points each.
“They ran phenomenally all night,” Jones said of his team. The seniors “came through big time.”
Several coaches, unsolicited, told him Weisel was the MVP of both the region and state meets, Jones said. “He did about four miles of racing in a four hour period. That’s a herculean effort.”
In the Division II girls meet, St. Cecilia Academy finished eighth in the team standings with 32 points.
Sophomore Adreanna Parlette placed in five events. She started the meet with a fourth place finish in the pentathlon. In the individual events of the pentathlon, she placed second in 100 meter hurdles; third in the long jump; second in the high jump; ninth in the shot put; ninth in the 800-meter run.
In the individual events the next day, Parlette kept piling up team points with a second place finish in the long jump, third in the 100 meter and high jump and fifth in the 200 meter.
Senior Allison Hassett finished sixth in the discus and junior Diane Lee finished eighth in the triple jump.
Father Ryan freshman Isabel Wilson finished fifth in the pole vault.
St. Cecilia sophomore Holly McClure qualified for the Spring Fling in the girls singles tennis event, but was eliminated after losing in the first round.
Pope John Paul II High School’s baseball and softball teams both qualified for the Spring Fling.
In the Knights first game against traditional power and eventual state champion Christian Brothers High School of Memphis, sophomore Mason Hickman limited the Purple Wave to three hits and struck out 14. But he gave up the game’s only run in the bottom of the seventh and the Knights lost 1-0.
In the double elimination tournament, the Knights next faced Briarcrest Christian School of Memphis, the eventual state runner-up. JPII came back from three-run deficits twice to tie the score at 6-6, but lost again by giving up a run in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.
The Knights finished the season with a 24-12 record.
JPII’s softball team dropped their opener in the Spring Fling 3-2 to St. Benedict of Auburndale. The Lady Knigths gave up three runs to St. Benedict in the bottom of the first inning.
In the fifth, JPII’s Savannah Lewis singled, stole second and scored on a single by Chelsy Stephenson. In the sixth inning, senior Taylor Williams was hit by a pitch and then scored on a double by freshman Anna Wantz. But the Lady Knights could draw no closer.
In their second game, they fell 11-4 to eventual state runner-up Girls Preparatory School of Chattanooga. JPII gave up five runs in the first and six more in the third inning and were unable to mount a comeback.
The Lady Knights finished their season with a 20-10 record.