Madison Ragan, The Herald’s reigning softball Player of the Year, shone on the track Friday at Hugh Mills, where she won state titles in the shot put and the discus. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — She had just won her fifth and sixth state titles, but when Madison Ragan was leaving Hugh Mills Stadium on Friday she didn’t feel complete, didn’t feel whole.
“I’m upset,” Ragan said. “I wanted to do even better.’’
Ragan always shoots for the sky, but this was different. This was her last GISA state track & field meet for Randolph Southern, and none of the kids who attend the school feel like they can do enough for the beloved little school in Shellman that is closing its doors forever at the end of the school year.
Ragan has been one of the school’s biggest stars. She’s the best softball player in Southwest Georgia — winning The Herald’s Player of the Year honors for this past season — and Friday she won her third GISA Class A state title in the discus and followed up with her third title in the shot put. She’s 6-for-6 during the past three years, sweeping the discus and shot put crowns. And she’s only a junior.
But Ragan wanted to do more.
“It was pretty emotional when I found out the school was closing (two months ago), and I knew this would be my last state meet at Randolph Southern,’’ she said. “I wish I would have done a little better (on Friday). Being one of the last successful athletes at Randolph Southern is something I will always think about. I will tell my kids about Randolph Southern. I will share that with them. It’s such a great school. I hate that it’s closing.’’
Ragan was one of the biggest highlights in Day 2 of the GISA State Track & Field Championship as boys and girls teams in all three classes competed in the finals of the field events. The running finals are today, and both Deerfield-Windsor teams are in second place in the Class AAA team standings, while Westwood’s boys and girls teams remain in the hunt in the Class AA meet.
Ragan scored 20 of Randolph Southern’s 32 points, putting the Lady Patriots in second place behind Robert Toombs, which is running away with 91 points.
Ragan still doesn’t know where she will go to school next fall. She said her family is still looking at Terrell Academy, Sherwood Christian and Southwest Georgia Academy.
She simply wanted to go out with a memorable state meet for R-S. She just missed tying her own state record in the discus (112 feet and 6 inches) with a winning throw of 112 feet on Friday, and then she won the shot put with a toss of 32 feet and 2 3/4 inches.
“I had been hitting 34 and 35 feet in the shot and had one for 37 feet, so I really was hoping to do better in the shot put,’’ she said. “I was thinking about how this was my last time (competing) for Randolph Southern. It still hasn‘t really hit me yet. When I go to the graduation it will really hit me hard.”
Ross Hunter, a freshman at Randolph Southern who won the state title in the high jump (6-1) and placed sixth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump, felt the same way.
“I’m happy I won a state championship,’’ Hunter said. “It’s sad the school is closing, and I felt like I needed to do it for the school and give it my all. No one wants the school to close.’’
It was Hunter’s first state meet.
“I was a little nervous but my coach kept telling me to just calm down,” he said. “He kept saying, ‘Calm down and stay focused.’ It felt great to win it.’’
Hunter scored 16 of Randolph Southern’s 28 points. Braylie Blanton also won a state title for Randolph Southern’s girls team. She took first in the high jump (4-10) and was fourth in the long jump.
DWS is in the hunt in the girls and boys Class AAA meets. The Deerfield girls, who won their first state title last year, are in second place (44 points) behind Bulloch (66). Tattnall Square is in third (40) but has a chance to score big in today’s running finals. DWS will need some help to repeat as state champs.
“We had a real good day,’’ DWS girls coach Allen Lowe said. “We did really well, but Bulloch is looking real good right now. I don’t know if we can get enough (today) to win. Some tings would have to happen, but our girls are having a real good meet.’’
Virginia Moore ran a personal record 2:22 to finish second in the 800-meter run, the only running final on Friday, and Sarah Parker Jones finished second in the pole vault. Libby Greene finished third in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump, and Tarah Young was eighth in the long jump. Gabby Burt finished third in the shot put and fourth in the discus for DWS.
Southland eighth-grader Madison McPhearson, the daughter of former Lee County basketball coaches Fran and Tim McPhearson, made a statement in her state meet debut, finishing sixth in the Class AAA state meet.
The Deerfield boys are in position to possibly win their first title since 2009. They’re in second place (45 ½ points) behind Stratford (61), and the Knights and Stratford both have a lot on the track today.
“We got everybody in the finals on Saturday that we thought we would get in,’’ DWS boys coach Craig Rhodes said. “We had a good day (on Friday), and we’ve got a chance to win it Saturday. We’ve got a chance. That’s all we want, a chance.’’
Kh’Ron McClain, who was third in the triple jump on Friday, will be in the 100, 200 and run on both of DWS’ relay teams today. He believes the Knights can do it.
“Everybody on the team is scoring points,’’ he said. “That’s what we’ve got to keep doing, just score points and we will have a chance to win it. It’s great. Everyone is contributing.’’
Nick Michas finished second in the discus and Matthew Fox was third to give DWS 14 points at the end of the day, and Fox was second in the shot put while Michas finished third as the combo piled up 28 points. Chap Ivey was eighth in the triple jump and Jason Battle was sixth in the high jump. Battle also finished third in the long jump, and teammate Jay Barber was seventh in the long jump.
Southland’s Hunter Weldon (fifth) and Austin Hale (sixth) scored in the shot put.
Ivy Foister had a monster day for the Westwood girls, winning the discus (99-10) and the shot put (32 feet). Hannah Hinesly was sixth in the shot for Westwood, and Terrell Academy’s Brittney Spilman was fifth in the discus.
Westwood’s Rachel Harrell was eighth in the long jump and her sister, Perra, was eighth in the 800. Leah Hilliard finished third in the pole vault, and teammate Savanna Robertson was fifth for Westwood. SGA’s Katie Carver was fourth in the long jump, and teammate Braylie Everson was eighth in the triple jump.
Westwood had won back-to-back state titles and six of the last eight in Class A before moving to Class AA, but despite the big leap in competition, the Lady Wildcats and Wildcats are both having solid showings and are just out of the hunt.
“We had a good day,’’ Westwood coach Earl Ford said. “We didn’t have a great day, and we needed to have a great day. We performed well, but we’re going to have to have some upsets and have a big day on Saturday (to have a chance to win it).
“But the way you look at it, we always want to be in the Final Four. You know if you go to the Final Four every year there are going to be years when you win it. We want to be in the Final Four and then win it when we can.’’
The Westwood girls are in third (42) behind Gatewood (65) and Brentwood (51) and would need a lot of help to climb back to the top of the podium, but they have had a strong showing.
“We’ve competed well, but you have to give Gatewood and Brentwood credit,” Ford said. “They are really doing well in this meet.’’
Westwood‘s boys are in third (54) behind Trinity Christian of Dublin (67) and Brentwood (67).
Dylon Smith was second in the pole vault and Tristan Swan was fourth for Westwood, while J.T. Edore (fifth) and Collier Baggett (seventh) scored in the long jump. Jamie Davis finished second in the shot put and fifth in the discus, and Jacques Irvin was seventh in the shot put. Ridge Collins and his brother Brody Collins finished third and seventh in the high jump.