0

Area track stars shine at sectionals, qualify for state

Westover's Ericka Taylor won both the 1,600 and 3,200 in the sectionals to qualify for the girls Class AAAA state meet at Hugh Mills on May 9-11.

Westover's Ericka Taylor won both the 1,600 and 3,200 in the sectionals to qualify for the girls Class AAAA state meet at Hugh Mills on May 9-11.

STATESBORO – Monroe and Westover combined to qualify for state in 36 track & field events Saturday in the Class AAAA sectionals at Statesboro High.

Each school will send athletes to compete in 18 events for state track and field championships beginning next week in Jefferson on the boys’ side and then May 9 at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany for the girls.

“We had a good day overall,” said Harley Calhoun, Westover’s athletic director who also oversees the track & field program along with Lewis Smith. “What we felt like we could get out of it for state, we got. It’s time to get ready for the boys because we’ve got a short week.”

Competing against the top track and field athletes from Regions 1, 2, 3 and 4-AAAA, the Patriots were led Saturday by Jackie Childs, who finished first overall out of two finals heats in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.41. Childs also placed third overall in the 300-meter hurdles. The top eight overall qualify for state.

Lady Pats long-distance runner Ericka Taylor, a state-title champ in cross country, has never won a title in track and field, but it may be the senior’s time. She won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and heads to state with a shot at that elusive individual title.

“I think I have a pretty good chance,” said Taylor, who has signed a scholarship to run at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. “I think (the girls’ team) should come in the top five (at state).”

Westover’s Kayla Kirkland won the girls’ pole vault sectional with a vault of nine feet.

Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes, the four-time defending state champions, came on strong in the track events behind Chakeriah Fletcher’s overall first-place finish in the 400-meter run with a time of 57.20. Fletcher also finished second in the 300-meter hurdles, one spot ahead of teammate Nardesia McKinney. McKinney also qualified for state in the 100-meter hurdles.

The Lady Tornadoes won’t send as many athletes to state as they’re used to — competing in 10 total events — but they still expect to compete for a fifth consecutive title.

“They lived up to expectations,” Monroe track coach Latoya Johnson said of the defending champs. “We still can compete, but I can’t say what the outcome will be because we don’t have as many people. It just depends on what kind of heart we have. We expect for (the title streak) to continue.”

Monroe qualified as expected in the relays, finishing second overall in the 4x400 and third in the 4x100. Cedriania Waters, McKinney, Akheema Miller and Fletcher ran in the 4x400. Kandice Clyde, who qualified in the 100 and 200 dash, teamed with Miller, McKinney and Fletcher in the 4x100.

Johnson said Tornadoes’ triple jumper Kevin Williams’ final leap of 24 feet to qualify for state was the biggest surprise on the boys’ side. Williams also qualified in the high jump.

Monroe’s Ashley Harrell qualified for state in discuss and shot put, while Westover’s Ayanna Mitchell did the same. The Patriots’ Don Mills qualified in both discuss and shot put, along with Albany High’s Juwon Young. Westover’s Chris O’Neal and Brenton Wimberly and Monroe’s Brentavious Glanton also advance to state in shot put.

Westover’s Tyler Sheffel will compete at state in the 800-meter after finishing third overall at sectionals, along with helping the Pats’ 4x400 to a fourth-place overall sectional finish.

Dougherty’s Quannesha Gatling qualified in both the triple jump and 400-meter but fell just short of the top eight in the long jump. The Trojans will also send their boys’ 4x100 relay team to Jefferson after an overall third-place seeding from Kione Brown, Shaquille Wheeler, Tylandius Chester and Tavarious Nelson.

Albany High’s Shivam Patel and Faith Evans qualified in the pole vault, along with Westover’s Quintavious Moran.

Crisp County will send Adarius King to state in the 200-meter run along with Rodreka Chambliss in the 800-meter.

Complete sectional results are online at www.ghsa.net/track-and-field.

CLASS AAAAA

FAYETTEVILLE — The Bainbridge’s boys track & field team lost its 4x100 relay team last week when the Bearcats dropped the baton in the finals of the Region 1-AAAAA meet at Hugh Mills, but they bounced back with everybody else Saturday in the AAAAA sectionals, qualifying for state in seven individual events and the 4x400 relay.

“We would have liked to have had our 4x100 team get to state, and they would have made it if we hadn’t dropped the baton,’’ said longtime Bainbridge coach Larry Clark, who still helps head coach Larry Cosby with the team. “We got the ones out (to state) that we thought we could. It was a good day.’’

Bainbridge will be well represented in next week’s Class AAAAA state meet in Jefferson. Not only did the 4x400 relay team (Terry Lewis, Javontae Ross, Alton Miller and Justin Baker) make it to the state meet, but Lewis qualified in the 100-meter dash.

Craig Cooper and Dominic Douglas both qualified in the high jump, and Stephen Johnson made it in the triple jump, finishing eighth in the sectionals.

The top eight finishers qualify for the state meet, which begins Thursday in Jefferson. Chase Harris finished fourth in the 3,200 and eighth in the 1,600 to make it to state in both distance runs, and Derek Allen finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles and eighth in the 110-meter hurdles.

“We would have liked to have had our 4x100 team get to state and they would have made it if we hadn’t dropped the baton,’’ said longtime Bainbridge coach Larry Clark, who still helps head coach Larry Cosby with the team. “We got the ones out (to state) that we thought we could. It was a good day.’’

Raven Burney (long jump) was the only girl from Bainbridge to qualify for the girls state meet, which will be held at Hugh Mills Stadium from May 9 through May 11.