ALBANY -- First the Bainbridge's girls dropped the baton in the 4x100 relay race -- a race they would have won -- and then Jerisha Sutton, who was the favorite to win the 100 hurdles, jumped the gun and was disqualified.
Add those woes to being disqualified in the 1,600 and it's easy to see why high school track coaches get gray hair.
But Tandria Phillips' hair was just fine by the end of the Region 1-AAAA track and field meet at Hugh Mills. No gray hair, just a big smile and an even bigger embrace from her team after it won the 1-AAAA title.
"That shows what kind of character this team has,'' said Phillips, who is in her third year as Bainbridge's coach. "They fought through adversity. When something like that happens, it can really get (a team down). It's tough to overcome something like that, but they overcame it because of the senior leadership on this team.''
Looking for a leader?
Take a look at Nancy Session, who won the 200 (24.93) and the 400 (56.60) and then blew away the field by running a brilliant anchor leg for Bainbridge's winning 4x400 relay team. Bainbridge is sending both 4x400 teams to the state meet next week back at Hugh Mills.
The Lady Bearcats left Tuesday with the trophy they've been looking for all season. Bainbridge managed to beat Hardaway 152 to 121 1/2 to win the team title, which meant even more after the long day.
"This title means a lot to me,'' said Session, one of four seniors who led the way for the Lady Bearcats. "It kind of hurt when we dropped the baton in the 4x100, and after that happened I think I just ran that much harder. It means a lot, too, because this is my senior year, and I want to go out with a title for the class of 2010.''
Phillips couldn't say enough about what Session meant to the team.
"She is a such a leader,'' Phillips said. "She is every coach's dream.''
Bainbridge had won four titles in a row until the streak was stopped last year, but the Lady Bearcats are right back on track. It's not only five titles in the past six years, but this may be Bainbridge's strongest team to ever go to state. They finished 13th last year, but longtime Bainbridge track coach Larry Clark, who is now an assistant, said he felt this year's girls team may score more than any in Bainbridge history.
Sutton is headed to state after winning the long jump (17-2 1/2, and after bouncing back to win the 300 hurdles
Khadeejah Cooper had a big day by finishing second in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Diamond Bouie was second in the high jump, and Khadeedra Sparrow was second in the shot put.
Bainbridge's April Thomas won the 3,200 meters (12:18.71), beating Lee County's Alexis Skiles, who qualified for state at second.
Lee County finished fifth in the meet with 60 points, thanks to Holly Ebbets, who won the pole vault at 9-6.
Americus-Sumter's Tiffany Parker was second (8-6) and scored eight points for the Lady Jackets, who finished with 9 points.