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Penix, Masters help lead Trailblazers 2nd, 3rd at state

By TREY WILLIAMS H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone’s Eli Penix and Maci Masters delivered record-setting performances while helping the Trailblazers’ track and field and softball teams to respective second- and third-place finishes in the TSSAA state championships last week in
Murfreesboro.

Penix, a senior that’s signed with Samford, be- came the first thrower from Northeast Tennessee to win state titles in the shot put and discus in consecutive seasons. Masters, a junior who has committed to Virginia Tech, hit three home runs in the state tournament to give her 25 on the season, which broke the state record of 23 set by Unicoi County’s Tiffany Laughren.

The Daniel Boone boys’ second-place finish in track and field included individual titles from Levi Streeval in the 800 and 1,600 and Conner Wingfield in the 3,200. Streeval, Wingfield, Alex Quackenbush and Bryson Lewis successfully defended Boone’s 3,200 re- lay title from 2021, making the ‘Blazers the first team in Class AAA to win all four distance events.

Rainy conditions made for arguably the most gratifying titles to date for Penix.

“Winning the discus at state was definitely one of the most fulfilling victories I’ve had,” Penix said. “It was the hardest event for me all season. The throwing conditions were the worst I’ve ever thrown in while

competing in a meet. I was in third going into the finals. I finally got a hold of one in the fifth round and put away the competition.

“Shot put was smooth considering how much water was in the circle. Overall, I’m proud of how I handled the adverse condi- tions and executed.”

Boone coach Len Jeffers credits Penix’s father Chad and fellow assistants Ray Jones, James Garst and Christian Stumpf for much of Boone’s success.

“I wouldn’t be in this position without my parents being there every step of the way and my coaches supporting me,” Penix said.

Tyson Thompson also scored in the throws for Boone.

“Tyson competed great in a loaded competition,” Penix said. “He’s come a long way since he joined the team this outdoor season. He managed to crack the top five, allowing Boone to have two throwers on the same podium.”

Boone’s softball team bounced back from a first-round loss to Clarksville to win three straight games and finish third in the Class 4A. Boone defeated Summit 9-6, Springfield 4-0 and Wilson Central, 8-4.

Masters tied the home run record Thursday night against Springfield and broke it during a two-home run, seven-RBI eruption against Wilson Central on Friday.

“That was probably my favorite game of the year because of how exciting it was to see everyone else excited and playing for each other,” Masters said. “Not a single person on the team was playing for themselves. We were all playing together and to give the seniors another game.

“That group is not only a very talented group, but they are all amazing teammates. None of them are selfish and they always try and put the team before themselves.”

Masters finished the season with 25 home runs and 74 RBIs despite being pitched care- fully enough to draw 30 walks.

“At first it was a little frustrating getting walked and pitched around,” Masters said, “but it put runners in scoring position for us to hit in. Savannah is a great hitter and I always knew she would get me, and if she didn’t Kyleigh Bacon and Camryn Sarvis would.”  Boone went 9-2 in the postseason.

“I thought we really played our best at the end of the year,” Jenkins said. “Our players competed at a high level and that is number one thing that you want. We had several play- ers make lots of plays for us. We try to make it simple and throw strikes, catch outs and put the ball in play, and our group excelled in these areas during the postseason. … We hit .328 in the state tournament and we hit five home runs.”

Senior Riley Brinn was 3-for-4 with two runs against Summit.

Freshman Ava Saul pitched a three-hit shut out and Brinn and senior catcher Savannah Jesse were 2-for-3 in the defeat of Spring- field.

“This group was really special to be around,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We lose six seniors in Savannah, Camryn (Sarvis), Brylee (Mesusan), Maggie (Hill- man), Riley, and Suzie (Chatman). This group led us to back-to-back appearances and now will be moving on to better things.

“Next year’s group, led by seniors Audrey Moorhouse, Kayleigh Quesinberry and Maci Masters, should be another competitive group. We had a great year at 38-10 but the experience gained at the state tournament was tremendous.”

Quesinberry was 17-2 on the mound. Mag- gie Hillman went 14-5.

Sarvis hit 11 home runs. Bacon had eight home runs and Jessee hit seven. Mesusan was 38-for-40 in stolen base attempts.

Masters (.443), Jessee (.428), Mesusan (.420) and Moorhouse (.405) each batted above .400.

It was the second-best finish for the Daniel Boone program. Rick Wagner’s Trailblazers finished second in 2012.

“Coach Jenkins always makes sure we are ready for every game and that we re- member what we are playing for,” Masters said. “He allows you to have fun and build a family-like environment on the team. … I’m super-excited for next year to see what this next group can accomplish, although I will definitely miss this group of seniors.”