ALBANY -- Track people like to say you can take the measure of a team by watching how its mile relay squad performs.
If that's true, then the Monroe Tornadoes are in pretty good shape.
Monroe's girls swept all three relay events to run away with the 20th annual L.C. Smith and Winfred Benson Relays at Hugh Mills Stadium on Saturday. The Lady Tornadoes wracked up a whopping 137 points to easily outdistance runner-up Bainbridge, which closed with 86.
On the boys side, Monroe set a new meet record in winning the 4x400, but did not fare as well in the field events as the girls to finish third (88) behind winner Carrollton (123.5) and Bainbridge (115).
The defending Class AAA state champs simply rocked on the girls side, led by four first place efforts by super sophomore Mimieux Land, the daughter of former Oakland Raiders standout Dan Land.
She began the day by setting a new meet record at 5-8 in the high jump, won the triple jump at 35-00.5, anchored the winning 4x100 relay team, then closed it out by running the second leg on the winning mile relay team.
"I'm used to jumping 5-8," said Land on how her day began. "I made a mistake and made too many jumps. But before the end of the year, I'll make 5-10. But overall I think I had a pretty good day. We're only going to get better."
The Monroe boys also got a heroic effort out of Sir Paul Jones, the reigning state champion in the 110-meter hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles. Jones won the 110, and 300 hurdles, then anchored both of Monroe's winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
The highlight of the day was his head-to-head with Carrolton's Jonathon Jones in the 110. Jonathon entered the day ranked No. 1 in the state in the event. Sir Paul was No. 2. Monroe's Jones won by a tenth-of a second (14.1) with a lean at the line.
No big deal, said Sir Paul, just another day at the office.
"I just run," Sir Paul explained. "The more competition the better, but I'm just doing like (Monroe coach Octavia Jones) says and running against the clock. I think I'm much further ahead of where I was last year. I've hit three PR's (personal records) so far this year. We haven't peaked (as a team) yet and neither have I."
The other highlight on the boys side was the performance of Mitchell County burner Justin Scott. The reigning AA state champion in both the 100 and 200, Scott ran easily to wins in both events Saturday.
Scott won the 100 in a time of 10.6 and waltzed to a win in the 200 in 21.6 -- but said he could have done better.
"I thought I did pretty good, but I'm working on my technique right now," Scott said. "I didn't get off to a great start in the 100 and the headwind slowed me a little. But I do think I am ahead of where I was last year at the same point in time. I am definitely running better than I was last year."
In the boys distance events, Lee County's Jacob Kennedy ruled, winning the 1600 (4:42.4) and 3200 (10:04.5) meter runs. Teammate Alexis Skiles also medaled in the distance events, winning the 3200 and finishing third in the 1600.
Lee County's Caleb Ebbets also claimed a first-place finish in the pole vault at 15-0. He was attempting to clear 15-8 before suffering a scary fall in the pit area, ending his quest at a personal best.
"I came down pretty hard on my ankle," said a smiling Ebbets, who dropped probably 10 feet half on the mat and half into the pit. "But the funny part is my ankle feels OK, but my butt really hurts. I'll make 15-8 before the year is over."
In the girls team competition, Lee County finished 7th with 44 points, Westover was 8th at 39.5, Mitchell County 13th with 20 points and Albany was 17th with 6 points.
In the boys competition, Carrollton was the winner with 123.5, Bainbridge second at 115, Monroe third at 88, Lee 6th at 39, Mitchell County 9th at 26, Westover 12th at 19 and Albany 17th at 7.
After a long, tiring day, Monroe's coach was pleased with the outcome, both for his team and the for the way the meet ran smoothly.
"I was really happy with the way our relay teams ran," Octavia said. "We are starting to jell as a team."
Jones also credited those who helped make the event once againa success in its 20th year.
"Everything ran great (Saturday) and it was all due to the people we have in Dougherty County," he said. "It takes a lot of good people and a lot of hard work to make something like this work."