Bearden track and field team expects big things from its young talent

Bearden’s track and field team roster mainly consists of freshmen and sophomores, but so far the Bulldogs’ talent has trumped their inexperience this season.

There are several new runners who have been able to stand out from the rest this season.

Sophomore Ty Chandler, a first time hurdler, is one of those athletes. With the loss of Christian Robinson, who is a member of Carson-Newman’s track and field team, and JJ Shankles, who is running cross-country and track at Lipscomb, Chandler has become a huge asset to the boys track team this season, averaging times in the low 16s in the 110 hurdles and high 42 to low 43 in the 300 hurdles and is ranked within the top 10 in the region for both events.

“He’s come onto the scene real[ly] rapidly,” Coach Hunter Fendley said. “[He has] really picked it up, but most of that is because he is just so athletic, and he’s tall, so that helps, and he’s very coachable and very eager to learn.”

Coach Fendley said that Chandler’s willingness to learn in addition to his natural talent and athleticism is his biggest strength. Coach Fendley also said that Chandler’s times are a little ahead of where Robinson’s times were when he was at Bearden.

Senior Chase Hilton is having a great season at the top of the long distance runners. Including breaking his personal record in the 400, running a 49.9. Hilton signed Wednesday morning to run track at Tennessee.

On the girls team, sophomore Karman Anderson and freshman Taylor Frizen have been holding their own with seasoned veterans seniors Lexus Norwood and Chase Henry on the girls 4×200 relay team.

Coach Fendley said that while Anderson and Frizen are young, they are continuing to improve and quickly become some of the top sprinters for the girls team.

Junior Mindy Harold is also a seasoned veteran who has had to juggle cheerleading at the same time as track. Harold and Norwood have stepped up as leaders for the 4×100 team that also consists of Anderson and freshman Jenna Justice.

“It’s going really well,” Harold said. “ I think that we’re getting really close to them, so it’s starting to work out really well a lot easier than it was my freshman year.”

Added Coach Fendley: “[Harold] works really hard .. It means a lot to her and that’s been probably the most impressive thing …she takes it really seriously.”

Coach Fendley said that Henry and Harold have been able to build a strong bond that has helped them become strong leaders on the girl’s team.

Over the past year, Bearden’s cross country and track and field teams have undergone the transition of a new coaching staff. Coach Patty Thewes is the director of Bearden’s track program, coach Fendley is her co-head coach, coach Ashley Powell has been working with the long distance runners, and Sarah Canter has been working with the shot put and the discus throwers.

“It’s been great,” Coach Fendley said. “Coach Thewes is extremely organized …we’ve had a lot of participation and we’re filling up events at every meet.”

Added Coach Powell: “It’s been a fairly easy transition, which is good; it’s just a lot different from cross country in general.”

The Bulldogs recently competed in the Vol Classic track meet, held at the University of Tennessee, where they had several runners set personal records on both the girls and the boys teams, as well as several season bests, with the boys finishing fifth overall and the girls finishing seventh overall.

Seniors Alisa Harvey and Tru Powell both set personal records, running a 5:36 in the mile this weekend.

Bearden has two more meets to go this season before regions on May 10. They also hope to earn a chance to compete at the state meet.

“It’s a young team that’s going to have some good success this year,” Coach Fendley said. “And in the future, it’s just what they want. If they want to be the best, they can be the best.”