Track & field teams across Georgia set to race under lights tonight

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Monroe track fans ... get those calculators ready.

The Lady Tornadoes, the greatest force in Class AAA track & field in the state of Georgia, may need calculators, an abacus and a CPA before the Westover Relays are over tonight.

That's how close the girls race might be at Hugh Mills Stadium, where one of only two night meets in the state takes place every year just before teams run at the region track meets.

The lights won't be the only thing burning at the 8th annual Westover Relays, where 17 boys teams and 17 girls teams will take part in one final tune-up.

There's speed everywhere, including in the sprints, where state-record holder Justin Scott-Wesley from Mitchell County will face Bainbridge's Shawn Samuels, who beat Scott-Wesley in both the 100 and the 200 in the Smith & Benson Relays at Hugh Mills earlier this year.

They won't see each other again after tonight because Mitchell County competes in the Class A region and state meets, while Bainbridge tries to defend its state title in Class AAAA.

First, the Bearcats will try to defend their Westover Relays title that proved to be a spring board for them a year ago.

"The Bainbridge boys will be the favorites to win the boys meet (tonight),'' said Westover A.D. and track & field coach Harley Calhoun. "They are the top Class AAAA team the state.''

As for the girls meet?

Monroe, which has won the last two Class AAA state titles and last two Westover Relay titles, would be the clear favorite, but several of the Lady Tornadoes are nursing injuries.

"I think the girls meet will come down to Monroe, Tift County and Bainbridge,'' Calhoun said Thursday.

Monroe's Mimieux Land, who won state titles in the long jump, high jump and set a state record in the triple jump last year, can score 30 points by herself, and Sheniqua Young might finish second in the triple jump and long jump. But Ashley Johnson (both hurdles), Maikea Davis (200 and 400) and Davone Anduze (400), who all run on relay teams, are sitting out the meet to rest for the upcoming region meet.

Bainbridge will be led by Samuels and Joseph Ausgood, who was the MVP at the Smith & Benson Relays after winning the 400, 800 and anchoring the 4x400 relay team. Jamar Venissee-Cosby (high jump) Steven Crowell (shot put), Dwayne Gurley (discus), Octavious Scott (hurdles), Ryan Edwards (400) and Rohan Gaines (triple jump and long jump), can all rack up points for the Bearcats.

Westover's girls will be led by Erica Taylor, the top distance runner in Southwest Georgia and reigning AAA cross-country state champ, and the boys may make a run at Bainbridge.

"We will try to nickel and dime our way and get as many points as we can,'' said Calhoun, whose team was second to Bainbridge a year ago after winning it in 2009.

Westover can get points from just about everywhere, including the sprints where Reginald Lewis and Chuck Lewis can score in the 100 and 200 meters, and in the distance races with Josh Mason (1,600 and 3,200) and Jeremy Bonner (800). Derrick Akins and Dontravious Ousley could go 1-2 in the discus, and Dolphurs Hayes has a solid chance to win the pole vault.

Teams from as far away as Gwinnett County will be here, as well as local teams from Albany High, Dougherty, Monroe, Westover, Lee County, Terrell County and Mitchell County. Field events begin at 4 p.m. and the sprints start at 6:30 p.m.

"It's the last week before the region and what makes it special is we run it at night,'' Calhoun said. "That adds something to it, and high school (students) can come out and watch the track meet on a Friday night. A lot more people will come on a Friday night rather than a Saturday afternoon. There's only two night track meets in the state. It's special.''