Grandfather Mountain Highland Games newcomer Zach Outen and longtime competitor Shannon Smith were named Track and Field Athletes of the Games on Saturday.
Outen, 17, of West Jefferson, a student at Ashe County High School, said he didn't know about the Highland Games until a friend invited him Friday. He showed up Saturday intending to compete in just two races but ended up
winning four track and field events: long jump, triple jump, 100-yard dash and 220-yard dash.
"Running on a gravel track was new to me," he said. "It was really cool. I'm wanting to come back next year and bring some friends."
Outen said he received coaching before he participated in the triple jump from Smith, the female Track and Field Athlete of the Games.
Smith, 18, a recent graduate of Avery County High School who plans to attend Furman University, has attended every Grandfather Mountain Highland Games since age 6, she said. She also was the Athlete of the Games in 2012
and said she enjoys the camaraderie among the competitors.
"We're kind of just all here to have fun," Smith said. "It's not too intense; we're just here to have a good time."