ALBANY -- Just how talented is the Monroe girls track team?
Good enough to win the 7th annual Westover Relays without Lakeisha Jackson.
Well, they were strong enough to finish fifth while the heart the team sat out most of the Relays on Friday night at Hugh Mills Stadium, where the Monroe girls ran away with the title and the Bainbridge boys smashed the record for total points, winning the meet with 149 -- and eclipsing the old mark of 122.
Monroe's girls, the defending Westover Relay and defending Class AAA state champs, had enough depth to overcome the absence of Jackson to score 165 points. Westover's girls were second with 70, while Westover's boys also finished second to Bainbridge with 75 points.
Monroe's boys, who are also the defending Class AAA state champs, missed Sir Paul Jones, who won the 300 hurdles in 37.86, an event he owns the second fastest time (36.66) in the nation, and then sat out the rest of the meet with a sore hamstring. Monroe's Donquavious Hill, who is also a huge part of the team's success, also sat out with a mild injury he suffered in the long jump.
"I was pleased with the effort from the boys team,'' said Monroe track coach Octavia Jones. "Sir Paul Jones had a little hamstring, and I'm just being cautious. We have some time (11 days) until the region. I thought some of the younger kids stepped up in the relays."
Jones then added: "Larry Bellamy, a sophomore and Benjamin Dunnaway helped our relay teams.''
Johnny Moore won the shot put (166-2) for Monroe, but the Tornadoes missed all those points Sir Paul and Hill usually rack up in individual events, as well as being a big part of the relay teams. Monroe finished with 57 points, but the girls never slowed down.
Jackson, who won the state title in the 110 hurdles last year, sat out with a minor hip injury she suffered when she hit a hurdle last week at a meet in Macon, and Jones just didn't want to take a chance.
"She probably could have run, but we have the region meet coming up next week,'' Octavia Jones said. "Lakeisha talked to them all week. She's the captain and they follow her lead. She told them just go out there and perform."
They did. Ashley Johnson, who usually finishes second behind Jackson, won both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles.
"It's always good to win,'' Johnson said. "But we miss (Lekeisha) and I've got to have her back. We're a team and we had to hold it down while she was gone.''
Destinee Collins, who won the 800-meter run (2:26.68) and anchored the winning 4x800-meter relay team, felt the same way.
"We need her,'' she said. "We're trying to get ready for state.''
Johnson also anchored the 4x400 relay team that set a meet record at 3:59.46. Maikea Davis, Alanesha McFarland and Mimieux Land make up the rest of that team.
Davis won both the 100 (12.31) and 200 meter dashes (24.82). Davone Anduze (59.31) won the 400-meter run and Davis was second in that race. Monroe's girls won all four relay races, and came out of the field events in great shape, thanks to Land, who set a meet record in the triple jump (37-10) and won the high jump (5-4). Sheniqua Johnson was second in the triple jump, and Alexandria Childs was second in the discus.
"Going into the region this is what we needed to see,'' Octavia Jones said. "We're right on point.''
Bainbridge's boys, meanwhile, may be ahead of schedule. They poured on the points in the field events and then cruised the rest of the night, setting meet records in the 4x100 relay and in the 800-meter runs, where Joseph Asgood ran a 1:57.8. He also finished fourth in the 400 and ran on the 4x400 relay team that was third.
Denzel Reynolds, Shawn Samuels, Brandon Handsford and Thomas Smiley won the 4x100 relay and own the fastest time in Georgia this year (41.41), but needed only a 41.55 to set a new meet record.
Denzel Gamble won 110 hurdles in 14.72, then won the triple jump (46-2) and finished third to Sir Paul in the 300 hurdles. Gamble said he was happy to win the 110 race, but he would have rather raced against Sir Paul.
"I was a little disappointed he wasn't in the race,'' Gamble said. "But it was great to win, and it was great that the team broke the record for points. I'm not surprised. It seems we break some kind of record in every meet we run.''
Bainbridge scored early as Delonte Martistee finished second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and fourth in the high jump, and Steven Crowell finished second in the shot put and Dwayne Gurley was second in the discus.
"We scored in so many events,'' Bainbridge coach Larry Cosby said. "It was a good prep for the region (meet). Our whole goal was to score points in every event.''