Westover star distance runner Ericka Taylor dusts the field during the 3,200-meter final at the Region 1-AAAA meet Thursday at Hugh Mills. (Photos by firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Westover’s boys and girls track & field teams were disappointed when they didn’t sweep the Westover Relays last week.
It’s a good thing they kept that broom.
It was a sweet sweep Thursday at the Region 1-AAAA meet as both Westover teams ran away with the titles. The Lady Patriots beat Monroe, which had owned this meet for the last four years, 197-180, and the Patriots destroyed the field, finishing 66 points ahead of Monroe — 197-131 — as both Westover teams nearly eclipsed 200 points.
Bainbridge’s boys team came back from dropping the baton in the 4x100 relay to win the Region 1-AAAAA meet, beating second-place Northside, Columbus, 173-140. Lee County was sixth with 23 points. The Bainbridge girls finished fourth (106 points) and Lee County, which was led by pole vaulter Holly Ebbets — who won her fourth consecutive region title by clearing 11 feet and 6 inches — was sixth with 45 points. The kids at Westover were ecstatic.
“We didn’t get the sweep last week, so this was kind of like revenge,’’ said Westover’s Brenton Wimberly, who won the discus. “Only this is the region meet so it’s better — a whole lot better.’’
It was a three-peat for the boys, who have owned this meet since 2011.
Wimberly started an avalanche of field points for Westover. Don Mills was second in the discus and shot put and Chris O’Neal was third in the shot. Quintavious Moran, who just started vaulting three weeks ago, won the pole vault title (10-0) and Tyler Sheffel was third in the pole vault. Westover went 1-2 in the 800 as Marquis Jones won the race and Sheffel was second.
Perhaps no one wanted the region title as much as Jackie Childs, who had a monster day. he was second in the triple jump and then he won both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. After running a personal record (38.37) in the 300s, Childs went to the infield and held a team meeting.
“He is the hype man,’’ Mills said of Childs who wanted to do everything he could to secure the team title. “I was just trying to help my team. That’s what leaders do,’’ Childs said of his pep talk.
Childs then added: “It's my last year. I want a ring. We've finished second in state two years and I'm tired of those 2s. We needed to win this (region) meet. It means a whole lot to win this meet. I told everyone, 'If you're not running with your heart, I don't want anything to do with you.' We ran with heart.''
Craig Reddix had an unforgettable meet. He won the 200 and 400 and anchored the mile relay — the final event of the night — that put the finishing touches on the day.
It was Westover's meet from start to finish, and the Patriots finished strong.
“We needed to finish strong,” Childs said.
The top four in each event qualify for the sectionals next Saturday in Statesboro, and Westover's boys and girls teams qualified in every event.
“We're taking a busload to Statesboro,” said Westover A.D. Harley Calhoun, who oversees the track & field program with track & field coach Lewis Smith. “It feels good (to get the sweep). We're really proud of both teams. It's the first time we have swept this meet since 2008.”
Monroe's girls — and Mimi Land — had a lot to do with that. Land, an All-American who won nine individual state titles and led Monroe to four consecutive state team titles is now turning heads at Clemson after recently winning ACC Freshman of the Year.
“Now that she's gone, we had a chance to win the meet,” Westover's Ericka Taylor said. “She would get 30 points by herself in the field events. It feels great to win this meet. I have never won it before, so I really don't know how to feel.”
Taylor, a senior, led the Westover girls by winning the 1,600 and 3,200, and she won both distance races wire-to-wire, destroying the field. It was the fourth time she swept the events in the region meet, giving her eight individual titles in her career.
“I felt really good,” she said. “(Former Westover star) Jamilla Young won eight titles at Westover, and she has the school record. I knew I couldn't beat her, but I wanted to tie her, and I did.”
Ayanna Mitchell scored 18 points for the Lady Patriots, winning the discus and finishing second in the shot put, and Alicia Samuels finished third in the discus and fourth in the shot put. Kayla Kirkland won the pole vault and Chelsea Lee was third to add 16 points to Westover's total. Toianna Campbell won the 800, and Briana Harpe was second in that race and she finished second in the long jump. Bryshea Jackson was second in the triple jump and fourth in the 100-meter dash. Jessica Burnett was second in the 100-meter hurdles and Caitlin Canion was second to Taylor in the 3,200. Westover's A and B mile relay teams finished second and third to wrap up the meet.
Dougherty's girls finished third with 83 points and a Quannesha Gatling was a big reason. Gatling scored 30 points by herself, winning the long jump, the triple jump and the 400-meter run.
Monroe's girls had a big night to finish second and will take a busload of talent to Statesboro, The Lady Tornadoes won both relays and Chakeria Fletcher, who ran on both teams, was second in the 400 to Gatling. Kandice Clyde, a freshman, won the 100 and 200, and Ashley harrell won the shot put and was second in the duscus. Freshman Cekeya Mack won the high jump and was fourth in the long jump. Nardesia McKinney was second in the 300 hurdles, third in the 100 hurdles and third in the triple jump.
Monroe's boys were led by Kevin Williams, who won the long jump and triple jump and was second in the high jump, scoring 28 points by himself. Jabari McGhee won the high jump. Labell Tumblin was second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles, and Kevin McCauley was third in the 800. Brentavious Glanton was third in the shot put and fourth in the discus, and Reshawn Robinson was second in the 3,200 run behind Worth’s Dale Pate, who won both the 1,600 and 3,200. After the 3,200, Pate raced from Hugh Mills Stadium to drive to Cairo, where he played for the Rams’ soccer team in the Region 1-AAAA title game.
Albany High’s boys finished fourth with 114 points. Juwon Young won the shot put to lead the way. The Albany girls were fourth with 55 points. Lindnesia Hudson won the 100 hurdles and was third in the long jump.
Bainbridge’s boys team came back from the disaster of dropping the baton to win. Chase Harris won both the 1,600 and 3,200 and Drayvon Banks was second in the 3,200. Jamez Harris won the shot put, and Dominic Douglas won the high jump. Bainbridge’s Craig Cooper was second in the high jump and third in the long jump, and Alton Miller was second in the 200 and the 400. Derek Allen was third in the 300 hurdles.
Bainbride’s girls were led by Tiffany Braswell and Amber Braswell, who went 1-2 in the 800.
"Coming back from that was big,'' Bainbridge coach Larry Cosby said of the dropped baton. "Marshall (Mack) came back (from dropping the baton) and finished third in the 100 to qualify for the sectionals. It says a lot. We came back from it and won the meet. After we got through that the day became brighter.''