JEFFERSON -- Justin Scott-Wesley almost lifted Mitchell County to the Class A state title, and Reginald Lewis' inspirational finish in the 100-meter dash capped off a remarkable season at Westover, where the Patriots surged to become the state runner-up in Class AAA behind Carrollton, the top track & field program in the state, on Saturday at the GHSA state meet.
"Carrollton was just too deep for us,'' said Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun, whose team scored 48 points to nail down second place. Westover scored exactly 48 points 10 years ago when the Patriots won their last state title. Carrollton defended its title with 84 points.
"Man, that's (the best program in the state),'' Calhoun said of Carrollton. "They won the state title last year and brought all those kids back and won it again.''
No team made a greater leap than Westover.
"We scored four points in this meet last year, and we come in here and score 48 points and finish second. I am so proud of them,"
Calhoun said. "We wanted to contend for a state title and we did, and finished second We did what we wanted to do.''
Westover's team might have made giant leap, but Lewis cleared the Grand Canyon. He had never been on the track before this year, and ran into Calhoun in the weight room one day and asked if he could jump for Westover. Calhoun told him he would have to run and go through conditioning like everyone else.
Lewis is like no one else.
He scored 19 points by himself, shocking the state by winning the 100-meter dash in 10.67. He finished fourth in the 200 and was fifth in the long jump.
"When Reggie won the 100 that (gave us second place) and put it all to rest,'' Calhoun said. "That was awesome. For a first-year kid to do what he did. I've never heard of that. He ran his heart out.''
Eagles Landing was third behind Westover with 32 points. Monroe, which won the state title in 2009 and was second to Carrollton a year ago, finished 19th with six points as Larry Bellamy finished fourth in the 110 hurdles and Benjamin Dunnaway was eighth in the 400.
Americus-Sumter finished 18th with eight points, thanks to Claude Deriso, who finished third in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump.
They call him the cleanup man, and Scott-Wesley did just that in the 400-meter relay for Mitchell County.
In second place at the final handoff, Scott-Wesley pulled ahead of Dooly County's anchor man, and helped the Eagles win the opening event of the three-day event in 42.31 seconds. Dooly finished second in 42.54.
"I had faith in my teammates, 'Just keep us in there, and just let me go to work,' " he said. "My teammates have faith in me, so it allows me to bring it back if we get into trouble."
Kavoris Pollard, Jesse Atkins and Yancy Burns made up the 4x100 state title-winning relay team, and the victory early in the day set the stage for a dramatic ending.
Mitchell County got just eight points out of the field events and began the day miles behind Athens Christian, which brought 46 points into the final day. But by the time the teams lined up for the final event of the meet -- the 4x400 relay -- Scott-Wesley had closed the gap to 46-37 by winning the relay and by taking first in the 100 and second in the 200. Diquan Isom finished eighth in the 800 for the other point.
Mitchell needed to win the 4x400 and Athens Christian needed to finish eighth to forge a tie at 47-47 for the team title.
But Athens Christian took fourth place to clinch the title with 50 points, and Mitchell's team of Scott-Wesley, Burns, Pollard and Isom finished second in the relay and second in the meet with 45 points.
"Anything short of a state championship is a disappointment when you set your goals to win state," Mitchell County coach Dondrial Pinkins said. "It gives us something to build on."
Pinkins said the difference was his team scoring just eight points in the field events Thursday, when he expected at least 15.
One surprise was Scott-Wesley's second-place finish in the 200, the event he won the last two years, behind Our Lady of Mercy's Jordan Sartor, who won it in 21.75. As he crossed finish line in 22.18, Scott-Wesley reached for his right leg.
He said it "just tightened up a little bit," and was quick to credit Sartor for running a better race.
"I tried to turn it on, to kick it into second gear," he said. "And (my leg) didn't want to agree with me."
Scott-Wesley's times have fluctuated since he started a weight program after he committed to play football for the University of Georgia. The new strength and conditioning staff at UGA put Scott-Wesley on a weight training plan of increasing his repetitions and weights. He also increased protein in his diet, and after his weight training consisted of 40 reps of 225 pounds, he gained 15 pounds and reached 215 pounds at the start of track season. He has since dropped to 210.
"They went down," he said of his times, "but I really couldn't get to where I was last year."
Scott-Welsley had to reset himself after a false start in the 100. But he still won it in 10.76 seconds, which beat Twiggs County's Ernest Butts, who was second at 10.94. Scott-Wesley set a Class AA state record last year at 10.35, which was the fifth-fastest time in the nation. Scott-Wesley said the false start was like, "letting the air out of a balloon," but he knew he had to re-focus.
"Coming out of my draft, I just lifted my head and just ran," he said. "My coaches tell me to run through the line and into the curve, so I just tried to do that."
Terrell County finished 10th with 18 points. The 4x400 relay team of Curtis Mallory, Tracy Chick, Raymond Huckaby, and Jacoby Calloway finished third, Alvin Brown finished fifth in the 110 hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles, and Raymond Huckaby finished fourth in the 300 hurdles.
Defending state champ Pelham finished 13th with 14 points. Calhoun County and Baconton Charter tied for 18th with eight points and Randolph-Clay was 19th with seven points as Johnny Foster finished fourth in the long jump and Calvin Parramore was seventh in the 100.
Kenneth Randall scored 11 points for Pelham with a second in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump. Baconton's Bryton Wenzel finished fourth in the 800 and sixth in the 1,600. Calhoun County's 4x100 relay team of Raishun Anderson, Antonio Wright, Marquez Williams and Vincent Powell finished seventh. Powell was fourth in the high jump and Corey Ingram was eighth in the shot put.
Albany High racked up 27 points on the first day of the meet in the field as Roscoe Byrd led the way by winning the shot put and finishing fifth in the discus. Jontavious Morris (third in the discus), Tim Pierce (third in the triple jump) and Shivan Patel (eighth in the pole vault) gave the Indians the lead after the first day, but AHS didn't qualify any runners for Saturday's finals.
Still, Albany High made a statement with a fifth-place finish in the state. Elbert County won the meet with 57 points, while Early County was 12th with 15 points. Early's Jimmy Robinson led the way by taking fifth in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the 110 hurdles, and Early's 4x100 relay team of Matthew Cook, Chris Lee, Laron Brown and Camry Flowers finished fourth.
Bainbridge qualified just one runner for Saturday's finals and Octavious Scott finished seventh in the 300 hurdles. Bainbridge scored 19 points in the field, but couldn't defend its state title. The Bearcats scored 21 points and finished eighth. Clarke Central won the meet with 36 points.