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A Disturbance in the Force

WB’s Roddy poised for strong run at state pentathlon
Lady Governor junior Lindsey Roddy takes a break between workouts at the William Blount track. Photos by Beth Murphy

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Long ago, in a track and field galaxy far, far away, only the elders understood the intricacies of pentathlon and decathlon scoring.

Roddy contemplates what it will take to make the award stand at state.

Roddy contemplates what it will take to make the award stand.

Untitled-2It’s really not that bad, actually, and, once grasped, just what Lindsey Roddy achieved in winning the Section 1AAA pentathlon last week at Morristown West High School comes better into focus.

The William Blount junior and Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Week became the first Blount County athlete to earn a spot in this month’s Spring Fling with the win. Spring Fling, a weeklong festival of baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and track and field state championships, is scheduled for May 18-22 in Murfreesboro.

A top eight finish in the pentathlon brings with it an All-State selection. Roddy refuses to get caught up in it all.

“I’m still kind of surprised at it all,” she said. “I feel like I can keep getting better and better if I work on technical things.”

It’s tough to reach state in the pentathlon. The five-event, single-day discipline will expose you.

Fast but with limited stamina, scoring big points in the 100-meter hurdles won’t mean as much when your opponent can make a major points grab in the 800 meters.

Good explosion in the shot put ring can win a lot of points on strength alone. Strength without flexibility and technique can lead to costly losses in points in the high jump.

It’s all about the points in the pentathlon. Where an athlete places in a given event can mean very little. How well they did in that event can be everything.

Fortunately, the elders left us “the tables.”

Roddy works on her time in the 800 meters.

Roddy works on her time in the 800 meters.

Each of the pentathlon’s five events – long jump, 100-meter hurdles, shot put, high jump, 800-meter run — has an accompanying TSSAA-sanctioned scoring table. There’s a maximum 1,000 points available for running the hurdles in 13.85 seconds or faster. There are 998 points on offer for getting in at 13.86, 997 for 13.87 and so forth.

Height and distance measurements use the metric system.

Kiara Rhodes will enter the state meet with the highest score among sectional qualifiers. The Whitehaven sophomore won the Section 4 pentathlon with 3,530 points. Southwind’s Angelica Lightfoot finished second at 3,341, Rhodes and Lightfoot the only qualifiers statewide to eclipse 3,000 points.

Roddy is right there with 2,502 points, one spot from the awards stand. Getting into that eighth spot, or higher, “isn’t as far off as it once seemed,” William Blount coach Jeremy Snoderly said.

It’s in the long jump and shot put where Roddy could dramatically make up the most ground.

The athletic Lady Governor went 15 feet, 6 ¼ inches in finishing second in the long jump at the sectional pentathlon, the jump worth 487 points. Roddy delivered a season-best 16-4 in finishing second at the Blount County Track and Field Championships last month, a distance worth 554 points.

Ready for battle.

Ready for battle.

“Take out the two best boys, and she’s better than the rest,” William Blount assistant coach Zach Brown said.

Roddy tossed the shot 29-4 1/2, 461 points, to win the event at sectional. Her season-best performance at the Blount County meet, 32-5, would snare 522 points.

Strategy plays a huge part in the pentathlon. Roddy ranks among the elite in the middle three events – high jump, shot put, long jump. The key lies in not surrendering too many points in the opening event, the hurdles, then going all out in the 800, an approach that worked to perfection in winning the sectional title.

“I thought I was in the top four going into the 800,” Roddy said, “but there was a girl behind me that I couldn’t let beat me. The last lap, coach Snoderly told me to sprint. I could hear her coming behind me.”

At that point, tables, strategy, even the elders, mean very little.

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