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Golden West or Golden Georgia?

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

lden Southwest Georgia?

Three kids from Southwest Georgia flew to Sacramento to compete against the best in the nation on Saturday, and all three won events at the Golden West, one of the most prestigious track and field meets in the country.

"We may be small down here in Southwest Georgia, but we proved we have some of the best in the country,'' said Paul Jones, who coaches the Roughriders track and field club. "They proved it this weekend .''

Jones' son, Sir Paul Jones, won the 300-meter hurdles, and Camilla's Justin Scott won the 100 meter dash, while Mimieux Land, who will be a junior next fall at Monroe, had a grueling day and still won the triple jump title.

All three were recently named The Herald's Player of the Year in track and field. Jones and Scott were co-winners and Land was a co-winner with Early County's Nett Reed.

Sir Paul, who won the 300 hurdles in 37.3., might have won twice Saurday night, but he had trouble with the first hurdle in the 110 hurdles, then made up for lost time by bolting past most of the field to finish second in 14.04.

"I think he has a chance to be the fastest in the country in the 110s,'' Paul Jones said. "He has run better times (in both 110 and 300). He just finds a way to win even when he messes up, and he almost won the 110 coming from behind.''

Land might have won three titles, but her three events were scheduled so close together she never had a break Saturday evening, literally running from one event to the other. She won the triple jump, beating the top-ranked jumper in the country, Ciarra Brewer, with a jump of 39-feet, 5-inches, and finished second in the high jump (5-5) and long jump (18-4 1/8), losing the long jump title by an inch.

"As soon as I jumped my first triple jump, they called me to the high jump, and I had to sprint all the way over there, and when I got there the judge said, 'you have one minute.' I had to catch my breath,'' Land said. "Then the same thing happened after my second triple jump, and I had to run to the high jump again.''

Still, she was second in both the high jump and long jump.

"Mimi is super,'' Paul Jones said. "She had to do everything back-to-back. She is a competitor. The triple jump is a grueling event, and she had to do all three events in a short time. She was going against the best in the country, and she wasn't intimidated at all. If they had the events an hour or two hours apart, it would have been real interesting to see how she would have done.''

She might have swept all three the way she did in the state meet last month.

"It was fun getting away and facing that kind of competition,'' Land said. "I don't let pressure get to me. I just try to perform my best.

"I'm pretty satisfied with the triple jump,'' she said. "I think I could have done a little better in the high jump, and the long jump was a heartbreaker, to lose by an inch. But (the experience) does give me confidence, and it allowed me to show myself what I could do without my coach.''

All three run for Jones' Roughrider Club, which is in Albany, but no coaches were at Sacramento. The threesome flew out together (the meet paid for all their travel arrangements), and were on their own.

"We were all cheering each other,'' Scott said. "It was a real good experience. California was great, and it was a chance to compete against some of the top guys in the country.''

Scott, who will be a senior at Mitchell County High next fall, won the 100 meters in 10.4 and finished second in the 200 in 21.3. He felt good about winning the 100, but had mixed feelings about his race.

"It wasn't one of my best races, but you can't complain about a win,'' he said. "I was concerned more about the time, even tough I still won the race. There is still room to improve.''

Sir Paul, who recently graduated from Monroe but is still sifting through offers from several top track college programs around the nation, felt right at home against the Golden West field.

"I liked the competition,'' he said. "It makes me run faster. I felt good about winning (the 300) but I know I could have done better. All three of us won, so it was a great track meet.''