Deerfield’s Reed Hancock put the exclamation point on a brilliant high school career with her third GISA state title in the pole vault.
ALBANY — The bar trembled a bit, and then fell.
And just for a brief instant Reed Hancock seemed to hang in the air, suspended there, frozen in time — grasping one last breath of a career that may linger for a lifetime.
She’s one of a kind.
She fell to earth Friday after her last pole vault in the GISA Class AAA state track & field meet — the final vault of her remarkable career — and landed in tears.
“I just cried,’’ said Hancock who layed on the mat, covering her eyes as she wept.
It was over, and it was overwhelming.
Hancock, who broke her own state record in the pole vault twice, was trying to break it again Friday but barely missed clearing 11 feet and 10 inches.
The scene following her last vault and third state title told you everything you needed to know about this tough-as-sandpaper kid, the one who broke down all the doors in high school pole vaulting in Georgia and is headed to Alabama on a scholarship, the one who vaulted for the U.S. Junior Olympic team in the Philippines — this determined and dedicated young lady who might just land in the Olympics in 2016.
“I just wanted to break my record again,’’ she said, still teary-eyed. “I wanted to leave a mark, a very high mark, something that would last a long time — something I could tell my kids about.’’
Ironically, that’s exactly what Hancock has done.
“There might not be another one like her,’’ said Deerfield-Windsor girls track & field coach Allen Lowe of Hancock, who has cleared 12-6. “She worked so hard for four years and won three state titles, breaking her own record. I don’t know if she’s the best girls high school pole vaulter in the history of Georgia, but if she’s not the best, she’s up there. She has had a tremendous career for us.’’
Hancock’s memorable and prolific career ended Friday as DWS fought to win its first girls state team title and Westwood’s girls continued a saga of domination in Class A track & field.
That’s the kind of day it was at Hugh Mills Stadium, where they held the second day of the GISA state meet for all classes. The running finals are today, beginning at 9 a.m., but after two days and all the field events, a couple of things are clear:
1) Westwood’s girls own the Class A meet.
2) Deerfield-Windsor’s girls, who have never won a team title (they have never finished second) are in the hunt of their lives and enter the finals with a chance to win it all. They will need some breaks and a big day, but the girls Class AAA title is set up for a roller-coaster ride today as Trinity Christian leads DWS, 66-53.
DWS got points from Amber Young, who was second in the long jump, and Virginia Moore, who was second in the 1,600 and third in the 800. Sabrina Curry finished fourth in the shot put and fifth in the discus, and Bailey Strom came back after a quad injury last week to finish third in the pole vault. MacKenzie Davis was sixth in the 1,600, and Libby Greene was eighth in the triple jump. And Hancock finished seventh in the long jump.
“I took one for the team,’’ she said. “But you don’t know how important those two points might be.”
Indeed. It could be that close today.
DWS has enough left on the track to win today, but Trinity is loaded, too, and is the top seed in both the 400 run and the 4x400 relay.
“It’s going to be fun,’’ Lowe said. “We’ve got someone in every event. We’re going to score points as long as we cross the finish line. We don’t have a top seed, but we’ve got girls who can get us points. We are just hoping we can get enough.’’
Westwood’s girls probably have enough points already.
The amazing Lady Wildcats are on the verge of winning their fifth team title in the past six years (they finished second in 2010) and racked up 103 1/2 points as they head into the finals. And you can bet Earl Ford has kids running in every event.
Ford is known for a couple of things — his bigger-than-life straw hat, and his magical touch as a track & field coach. His boys have won four of the past five state titles and still have a chance today to catch Thomas Jefferson, which leads Westwood, 104-86.
His girls team?
They are a dynasty.
Hope Bailey won the triple jump and long jump, and Miller Singleton, who will defend her state titles in the 100 and 200 today, won her fourth consecutive pole vault state title to lead the way on Friday. Miller’s little sister, Morgan, won the high jump title.
Elizabeth Delk was second in the long jump, and Toni Hall was fifth in the high jump. Hannah Hinesley was second in the shot put, and Ivey Foister was fourth in the shot put and second in the discus. Erin Burnett was fourth in the discus, and Savannah Robertson was second in the pole vault.
Savannah Jones (third in the triple jump), Claire Collins (third in the 1,600) and Mary Westbrook (fifth in the 800) all scored for Westwood, just two days after they helped the Lady Wildcats win the Class A state team tennis title in Augusta.
That’s Westwood, where everyone does a little of everything.
Ford said his girls wouldn’t let up today.
“We’re going to keep running,’’ he said. “We’re going to try to run away from everyone, because if you don’t run away from people they can catch you.’’
Randolph Southern, thanks to Madison Ragan, is in second place with 49 1/2 points. Ragan, a sophomore who is one of the top pitchers and softball players in all of GISA, won her second straight shot put and discus state titles, and she set a state record in the discus. Braylie Blanton (third in the high jump and fifth in the long jump), Alana Cook (fourth in the high jump and fifth in the triple jump), Brook Taylor (second in the 800) and Lindsey Langford (sixth in the shot put) all brought home points for Randolph Southern.
Crisp Academy is in fourth with 22 points. Maggie Atherton won the 1,600-meter run, and Mary Foster was second.
Westwood’s boys have an outside chance to catch Thomas Jefferson, the team they beat by one point to win the title a year ago, but will need a big day and some help. Ford said his kids gave him everything on Friday.
“The effort was there,’’ Ford said. “We did what we thought we would do, but we didn’t get as many points as we thought we would get. But we’ll see what happens (in today’s finals). There are some really good athletes out here.’’
Daniel Hays won the shot put, and Jamie Davis was second in the shot and second in the discus. Brody Collins (second in the triple jump, third in the high jump and second in the 800) and his brother Ridge Collins (second in the high jump and third in the triple jump) led the way along with J.T. Edore (fourth in the long jump), Mason Worsham (fifth in the long jump), Brandon Butler (fourth in the 1,600) and Hayes Grogan (fifth in the 1,600).
In Class AA, Terrell Academy’s girls are in seventh (13 1/2 points), and the TAE boys are in fourth (27). Southwest Georgia Academy’s girls are in sixth (14 points), and the SGA boys are in fifth (24 points).
DWS’ boys are in third place in Class AAA with 32 1/2 points, but Stratford has a huge lead with 80 1/2 points. Sherwood Christian, which was led by Rashard Davis, is in fifth with 22 points.
DWS got points from Alex Berry (second in the triple jump), Gaughf Ivey (fourth in the pole vault), Matthew Fox (seventh in the shot put), Nick Michas (fourth in the discus and eighth in the shot put) and Matt Miller (seventh in the discus).
Davis led SCA by winning the long jump and finishing fourth in the high jump; Chandler Tabb set a school record and finished fifth in the 800, and William Orr took sixth in the 1,600.
“We’re small in numbers but big in talent,’’ said SCA coach Mark Meagher, whose team consists of 10 boys. “We couldn’t be happier, and our strongest events are coming in the finals.’’