Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

You don't have that many dead heats in this part of Georgia. The track stars around here are just too dominant, too talented and just too fast.

But after all was said and done, The Herald ended up with not one, but two dead heats in picking its 2010 Players of the Year for boys and girls track & field.

Monroe's Sir Paul Jones, who won two individual Class AAA state titles, and ran the third fastest time in the nation in the 300 hurdles, and Mitchell County's Justin Scott, who won two individual Class AA state titles, set a state record, and ran the fifth fastest 100-meter dash in the nation, share this year's Player of the Year award in boys track and field.

But hang on one second .... 'cause that's not all.

Monroe's Mimieux Land, who won three individual Class AAA state titles and set a state record in the triple jump, and Early County's Nett Reed, who won three Class AA state titles and set state records in the triple jump and 400-meter run, were chosen as co-winners of the Player of the Year in girls track & field.

"I don't see how you could do it any other way,'' Sir Paul said. "He did his thing, and I did my thing. It must have been a tough decision (for The Herald).''

Actually, it wasn't.

Consider this: Jones, who won the 110 and 300 hurdles and finished fifth in the high jump, and Scott, who won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, combined to score 44 points in individual events at state. Land and Reed were even better. They combined to score 60 individual points at their state meets.

Jones and Land also ran on Monroe's winning 4x100 teams and the 4x400 relay teams that finished second and third at the state meets, and both were the high points winners at their respective state meets. Jones scored 28 1/2 points to lead Monroe's boys to a second-place finish at state, and Land scored 34 points to help the Monroe girls win their second consecutive state title.

Land is only a sophomore, and she has already won four state titles, including the state high jump title as a freshman. She gave a whole new meaning to the term "field day." Her incredible performance in the field at the state meet this spring is the stuff of legends. She won the high jump, long jump and set the record in the triple jump (40-feet and 1/4 inch) bouncing from event to event in 90-degree heat. Then she ran on both relay teams and said at the end of the day that "I can't even feel my legs.''

What makes Land's performance at state even more remarkable is that she was still grieving the loss of her grandmother, who had passed away the day before the region meet a week earlier.

"Mimi is definitely special,'' said Monroe coach Octavia Jones, who coached both the boys and girls teams. "For her to accomplish what she has in her first two years in high school is incredible, and for her to fight through the adversity of losing her grandmother and perform the way she did at the state meet says a lot about her character.

"She has two more years, and by the time she leaves high school she will definitely have made her mark on Georgia track & field. You are going to hear great things from her, especially when she reaches the next level.''

Land said her goals next year are simple: "To get personal bests in everything,'' she said. "The thing I remember the most about this year is the triple crown (winning all three titles at state). I was surprised I did so well in the long jump, and I had no idea I would set the record in the triple jump. I didn't even know what the record was, so you know I wasn't thinking about breaking it.''

Sir Paul, who was The Herald's lone boys Player of the Year in track & field in 2009, ends his career with four state titles, and his time of 36.66 in the 300 hurdles was the third best in the nation this year.

"The thing I remember the most about this season is winning the 110 hurdles at state after being the last one out of the blocks,'' Sir Paul said. "I never thought I'd be able to run a 13.85 with that start.''

But Sir Paul made strides on and off the track.

"The biggest difference between his junior and senior years is his maturity,'' Octavia said. "He was a great leader for our team. All the other guys looked up to him. Sir Paul will be able to go as far as he wants to go in track. The sky is the limit for him.''

The only question is where he will run.

Sir Paul is still sifting through a barrage of offers from the top track college programs from around the country, and has narrowed the list to a handful.

"I'm looking at the SEC,'' he said. "Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and some others. I'm looking forward to the next level.''

Scott, a junior who has already committed to Georgia -- doing so actually on the podium after winning the 100 at the state meet -- would be happy to advise him. Scott put a lot of extra pressure on himself by promising to announce his oral commitment on the day of the state meet -- after he won the 100- and 200-meter titles. He also told The Herald the day before the finals that he wanted to break the state record in the 100 meters.

Scott, who was named the Atlanta Track Club's High School Track Athlete of the Year in Georgia, won both, setting a record in the 100 with the fifth fastest time in the nation. Then he announced he was headed to Georgia, where he will play receiver and run track.

"It really wasn't too much pressure on myself. I was confident in my technique,'' Scott said.

Maybe, but he was floored when he heard his time of 10.35 was not only a state record but the fifth fastest time in the nation.

"I was shocked. I was in awe when they announced that,'' Scott said. "It was such a great year in track. The thing I remember most is going undefeated, and then capping it off with the state record. It was a year to remember.''

They will never forget Nett Reed at Early County, where she is already a legend. She was an All-Area basketball player who averaged more than 20 points a game and ran the floor like she owned it.

She has accepted a scholarship to Western Kentucky, where she will play basketball and also compete in track and field. No one knows just how talented she is, because quite simply she has never been pushed. She never even practiced running the 400 meters, but set a state record (55.57) in the Class AA state meet. She also set a state record in the triple jump (40 feet, 1 inch) -- an event she never competed in until this season -- and she also won the long jump. Reed, who was The Herald's Player of the Year in track & field in 2009, leaves high school with nine individual state titles and a future as bright as any.

"She is an untapped, raw talent,'' said Octavia, who marveled at Reed when she ran -- and he wasn't even her coach. "Outside of the state meet, she really didn't have a chance to compete at an elite level. I'm really interested in seeing how she will do at the next level.''

Bainbridge track coach Larry Clark said the same thing about Reed.

"She is like the best kept secret,'' he said. "No one knows just how good she can be. When she gets to college and starts competing and getting pushed, there's no telling what she can do.''

Reed can't wait.

"I'm really looking forward to (college),'' she said. "My goal is compete in the NCAA nationals. I feel like I have a raw talent and want to reach my potential.''