Monroe’s Mimieux Land flies through the air during the triple jump finals at the Region 1-AAA track & field meet Thursday at Hugh Mills. Land repeated as triple, long and high jump champ, while also running on both relay teams that finished first — all of which led to the three-time defending state champion Lady Tornadoes repeating as the queens of 1-AAA. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
ALBANY — Early Friday afternoon, Monroe coach Latoyia Johnson told Mimieux Land to “just be Mimi.”
The rest of the Monroe girls team and the Westover boys team were their usual selves, too.
Land swept all three of her field events to lead the Lady Tornadoes to their fourth Region 1-AAA championship in a row, while the Westover boys repeated as region champs at the Region 1-AAA and 1-AAAA meets at Hugh Mills Stadium.
While it was business as usual in Class AAA, it was anything but in Class AAAA, where the Warner Robins boys knocked off Bainbridge, ending a streak of 12 straight region titles for the Bearcats.
Northside Columbus pulled away in the 1-AAAA girls meet, edging Hardaway and Thomas County.
But no one won more events than Land, who took first in the high jump (5-7), long jump (18-11) and triple jump (37-9 1/2) and ran legs in the winning 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay teams. It's the third region meet in a row she has swept her three field events, and Thursday was just the beginning for the Clemson-bound star who has already won 12 individual state championships.
Thursday began Land's first march toward a state championship since she signed with Clemson, and she said this time around the pressure was off.
"Now I am getting back into the groove of what I need to do," Land said. "I will be on top at state, so I don't feel any type of pressure. (More state titles) would mean a lot because I have been consistent and this is my senior year. This is it for high school track. It would be wonderful to add some more."
Land didn't set any personal records in a meet where Johnson said the plan was to "let her rest because the real competition starts next week."
Land's leadership has the Lady Tornadoes primed for Saturday's sectional meet in Howard and ready to repeat as team state champions in the first weekend of May.
The Monroe girls scored 219 points and were followed by Westover (171), Dougherty (86), Worth County (36), Americus-Sumter (25) and Cairo (24).
While Johnson called Thursday's four-peat an "anointed treasure," Westover boys coach Harley Calhoun was having similar thoughts about his Patriots, who took an early lead after winning four of the six field events and never looked back.
"Coach (Lewis) Smith and I pride ourselves in the fact that we will always have (winners in) field events," said Calhoun, whose Patriots have now won three out of four region meets. "That is something we really work on in the meet. We probably spend more time in the field than we do on the track."
Westover, which has won three meets in a row, has come out of the field events with the lead in every meet this season. On Thursday, Brandon Hudson cleared 6-2 in the high jump to upset Americus' Jarkoski Swanson, Dolphurs Hayes and Alex Donnan went 1-2 in the pole vault, McKenny Martin and Don Mills both cleared 48 feet to take the top two spots in shot put and Dontrevious Ousley and Derrick Akins went 1-2 in discus.
Ousley, who is ranked No. 1 in the state in all classes and No. 7 in the nation in discus, had a personal best throw of 190-6, which is just seven feet away from a state record.
"We have to come out strong in the field every time," Ousley said. "That's our strongest point, so we have to score as much as we can, take first and then take off with it on the track."
Westover's boys finished with 203 points, followed by Worth (123), Cairo (78), Monroe (75), Americus-Sumter (60), Dougherty (48) and Crisp County (20).
Bainbridge got into an early hole in the 1-AAAA meet after winning just one field event (Craig Cooper in the high jump) and couldn't catch a Warner Robbins team that scored 131 1/2 points and beat the Bearcats by 14 1/2 points.
Bainbridge coach Larry Clark was disappointed not to extend the program’s streak of region championships but said his team is young and ready to build another streak next season.
"We lost a lot of quality people last year and just have some kids who are inexperienced," Clark said. "We should make a run for it next year. Warner Robins has a good track team, and we are in a rebuilding year."
One of Bainbridge's few seniors is sprinter Rhyan Edwards, who won the 200 dash and was the final leg of the 4x400 relay — the last race of the night. He overtook a Northside Columbus runner on the final straightaway to give the Bearcats one of the most dramatic victories of the day.
"He's a winner," Clark said about Edwards. "He runs hard and works hard in practice every day."
Warner Robins' boys were followed by Bainbridge (117), Northside Columbus (82), Houston County (79.5), Hardaway (62), Northside Warner Robins (59), Lee County (45) and Thomas County Central (43).
Northside Columbus' girls won with 138 points and were followed by Hardaway (112), Thomas County Central (102.5), Bainbridge (85), Warner Robins (56), Houston County (43), Northside Warner Robins (37) and Lee County (34.5)
Other Southwest Georgia winners in the boys 1-AAAA meet were Lee County's Antravian McGee in the 100 dash (11.12), Bainbridge's Dontarius Jackson in the 110 hurdles (15.26) and Lee County's Jacob Kennedy in the 3,200 (9:43.56).
Winners in the girls 1-AAAA meet were Lee County's Mariah Davis in the 800 (2:26.61), Lee County's Holly Ebbets in the pole vault (11 feet) and Bainbridge's Raven Burney in the long jump (16 9 1/2).
Other winners in the boys 1-AAA meet were Worth County's Dontavis Jones in the 100 (11.09), Westover's Jeremy Bonner in the 800 (2:02.72), Worth County's Dale Pate in the 3,200 (11:00.44), Westover's Jackie Childs in the 110 and 300 hurdles (14.94 and 39.93), Dougherty's 4x100 relay team, Westover's 4x400 relay team, Monroe's Kevin Williams in the long jump (21-9 ¼) and Worth County's Dontavious Green in the triple jump (42-5).
Other Southwest Georgia winners in the girls AAA meet were Dougherty's Brittany Fowler in the 100 and 200 (12.78, 25.98), Monroe's Chakerah Fletcher in the 400 and the 300 hurdles (56.81, 46.38), Monroe's Destinee Collins in the 800 (2:27.60), Westover's Ericka Taylor in the 3,200 (13:10.53), Americus' Cemone Scott in the 100 hurdles (16.20), Westover's Alysia Potts in the pole vault (9 feet) and Monroe's Alexandria Childs in the shot put and discus (37.5 ½, 137-6).