Blount Press Row

The Next Big Thing

Carpenters’ Carter highlights contingent bound for first middle school state meet

Carpenters Middle eighth-grader Dylan Carter cools down after a workout at the William Blount High School track recently.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Pick a sport.

Chances are Blount County has never seen anything comparable to Dylan Carter at this age. Ever.

The Carpenters Middle School eighth-grader is putting up numbers in the discus and shot put that have ESPN taking notice as the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association readies for its inaugural track and field state meet this weekend.

Alcoa's Ruthie Steele, Jada Johnson, DeeDee Henry and Ariya Rice celebrate a relay win at the Blount County championships last month.

Alcoa’s Ruthie Steele, Jada Johnson, DeeDee Henry and Ariya Rice celebrate a relay win at the Blount County championships last month.

The meet is scheduled for Saturday at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.

Start time is 9 a.m.

Blount County is sending a sizable and talented contingent to the first-ever statewide middle school championships in Tennessee.

Alcoa Middle eighth-grader Jada Johnson is one of the top-ranked young sprinters in the nation. Heritage Middle’s Zoe Payne is one of only two area middle schoolers to ever reach 80 feet in the girls discus. Maryville Junior High’s Caroline Malone is close.

There’s also a long jumper at Maryville, eighth-grader Brooklin Richardson, you’ll be hearing tons about in coming years.

There won’t be anyone in attendance Saturday, however, with a resume quite like Carter’s.

Like all other entrants, the Cougars’ phenom qualified for state by placing top four in one of four sectionals. Carter didn’t just win the discus and shot put at the Cleveland-area sectional, though. His winning throw in the discus — 162 feet, 8 inches — bested second-place finisher Matthew Black of Cleveland Middle by 60 feet!

Sixty-two feet, 4 inches, to be exact.

His winning heave in the shot — 54-9.5 — traveled 15 feet farther than his closest rival.

With a long throw of 175 feet in the discus, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Carter currently owns 14 age-group national records.

“I’ve seen quite a few middle school kids,” William Blount High School throwers coach Randall Davis said. “You’d see 105, 110 feet, and people would go crazy.”

A then 12-year-old Carter sets a national record.

Admittedly, Carter’s size has played a role in his early successes.

He was already 4-foot, 100 pounds in kindergarten.

“He’s never been in the weight room,” Davis said. “He’s just a big, strong kid. When he was 7, I was in high school here, and I’ve just kept up with him through the years.”

To dismiss Carter’s achievements simply as a question of size, however, is to miss a very important part of the story, Judy Carter, Dylan’s mom, said.

Dylan is adopted. Had she and husband, Jim, not stepped in, who knows how things might have worked out?

“He came to us when he was 19 days old,” Judy said.

At 7, the Carters took Dylan to his first youth track meet. It wasn’t exactly love at first throw.

“i didn’t do so well that year,” he said.

A year later, Carter qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games, and a stunning assault on all age-group records for the shot put was underway. Thirteen of Carter’s national marks are for the shot.

Blount County is on track to register a sizable medal count at this weekend's middle school state meet.

Blount County is on track to register a sizable medal count at this weekend’s middle school state meet. Photo by Keith Driver

“Shot put’s my favorite because I’ve been doing it longer,” he said. “My discus has gotten better.”

The tough start to life kindled a drive in Dylan that’s only grown brighter with the years, Judy said. That, not size and strength, is the secret of his success.

“He’s such a gift,” Judy said. “There are other children that may have a difficult beginning. He has a big platform now that tells them you can still rise.”

It’s easy for successes at such a level for someone so young to get ahead of an athlete. Just not Carter, Davis said. He seems genuinely unfazed by all the notoriety.

“He’s just so coachable,” Davis said. “He could be a 180-, 200-foot thrower in the discus, and that’s just unbelievable.”

2016 TMSAA Sectional Champions

Editor’s Note: Alcoa Middle competes in the TMSAA’s small school division, Maryville Junior High, Carpenters, Heritage and Union Grove middle in the large school classification. The Tornadoes and Lady Tornadoes were the small school champions at the Cleveland sectional, the Rebels and Lady Rebels large school champions at the Greeneville sectional.

Athlete SchoolEvent
Jada JohnsonAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 100 Meter Dash
Lady TornadoesAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 4x200 Meter Relay
Shelby KnightAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 1600 Meter Run
Jase MassieAlcoa Middle SchoolBoys 1600 Meter Run
Lady TornadoesAlcoa Middle SchollGirls 4x100 Meter Relay
Lea MassieAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 800 Meter Run
Ariya RiceAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 200 Meter Dash
Lady TornadoesAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls 4x400 Meter Relay
TornadoesAlcoa Middle SchoolBoys 4x400 Meter Relay
Ashley NunezAlcoa Middle SchoolGirls Discus
Dylan CarterCarpenters Middle SchoolBoys Discus
Jasmine ErvinCarpenters Middle SchoolGirls Shot Put
Dylan CarterCarpenters Middle SchoolBoys Shot Put
Lady RebelsMaryville Junior HighGirls 4x100 Meter Relay
Brooklin RichardsonMaryville Junior HighGirls Long Jump
Zoe PayneHeritage Middle SchoolGirls Discus
Jayden MannakerMaryville Junior HighBoys 110 Meter Hurdles
MustangsHeritage Middle SchoolBoys 4x100 Meter Relay
Quintin TuckerHeritage Middle SchoolBoys High Jump

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