Greenwave star quarterback Jerkerious Scott did his part Saturday to help deliver Terrell County its first team state title when he won the 100-meter dash finals, but Terrell fell just short.
JEFFERSON — Three feet.
Three agonizing, heartbreaking feet.
Just one more stride.
That’s all Terrell County needed to win the first boys state track & field title in the school’s history, but the Greenwave finished second in the GHSA Class A Track & Field Championships on Saturday when mile relay anchor Rokeem Johnson stepped into the infield just three feet from the finish line in one of the most bizarre and cruelest endings to any state track meet anywhere.
“I started getting kind of dizzy, and I saw two finish lines. I guess I crossed the wrong one,’’ said Johnson, who ran the anchor leg for Terrell County’s mile relay team. All the Greenwave needed to do in the final event of the meet was finish in third place to win the team title, and Johnson was about to cross the finish line in second when he felt dizzy and began falling.
“It’s never happened to me before,’’ he added. “I saw two finish lines. I thought I crossed the finish line and we won (the team title). That’s as hard as I’ve ever run in my entire life.’’
After thinking he had finished the race, Johnson went into the infield and was disqualified for leaving the track. The Greenwave, which needed just six points to clinch the state championship and would have scored eight points for a second-place finish in the race, received nothing.
Double vision. Double heartache.
“In all my days of coaching I’ve never heard of anything like it,’’ said Terrell County coach Carlos Diaz, who has done wonders with the program at Terrell County, where the Greenwave don’t even have a home track to practice on. “I couldn’t watch the race. I was up top just pacing and glancing on the track now and then. I heard the crowd go, ‘Ahh!’
“I looked up. It looked like he started wobbling and just went off the track, out of bounds. He was three feet away. We were that close to winning it.’’
The kids from Dawson fell 5 1/2 points short of history. Commerce won the team title with 58 points. Terrell County finished with 52 1/2.
“I ran off the track because I thought I had finished the race. When they told me I was disqualified, I couldn’t believe it,’’ said Johnson, who said later that he felt fine and had no lingering effects of the dizziness. “I thought my teammates would be mad at me, but they weren’t. They all came up to me and told me I ran a hard race.’’
That’s how close this Greenwave team is, this team that still made a little history by becoming the first state runner-up in the school’s history.
“It gives us a lot to build on,’’ Diaz said.
Still, they ached.
“It was heartbreaking,’’ senior star sprinter Jerkerious Scott said. “There were some tears on the bus ride home.’’
It was a gut-wrenching loss, especially after the sacrifice and courageous effort by Scott, who won the 100-meter dash earlier in the day and then ran an inspiring 200 meters to tell anyone in Georgia everything they needed to know about Scott and this Greenwave team that came from a program without a track or tradition to the edge of winning a state title.
Scott, the heart of the team, pulled his hamstring with 10 meters left in the 100, but managed to hang on to win the race — Terrell County’s only individual state title in the three-day meet.
“I felt it pop with about 10 meters left,’’ he said. “But I didn’t want to get passed.’’
Then he told the trainer and the coaches he felt good enough to at least get on the track for the 200-meter dash, the last race before mile relay.
Scott managed to jog the 200 meters on a painful hamstring, and because of a disqualification, Scott finished seventh to give the Greenwave two more precious points, and Bernard Lumpkin finished sixth to give Terrell County five points in the race and close to within 5 1/2 of Commerce, which didn’t have any runners left in the meet.
“That says a lot about him,’’ Diaz said of Scott. “He pulled the hamstring but said he wanted to run the race to give us the point. He had to jog, but he finished the race. He is a team player. He has always been that way. It says a lot.’’
It was just insane bad luck. Scott was seeded third in the 200, but his seeded time was one of his slowest of the year, and Diaz said Thursday that he felt Scott could win the 200. If Scott had been healthy and finished second, Terrell County would have won the team title.
Diaz gathered his mile relay team together before the race.
“I told them we needed to finish third to win the meet,’’ Diaz said. “We got the lead and held it for the first three legs and we were in second at the end of the race. We only needed to finish third. We had the opportunity. It just slipped away.
“The kids ran hard and they had a great day. Commerce had the lead, but they were out of runners and we just kept chipping away all day.’’
Terrell County’s 4x100 relay team was third to start the day off. Michael Cooper finished second in the 110-hurdles, and Ismael Hayes was fifth in the 800.
“This really hurt,’’ Diaz said. “I’ve had buzzer beaters before, but never anything like this. I feel for the kids. They wanted it so bad. You just can’t put yourself down. You have to keep moving on. This team did something no team (at Terrell County) had ever done. I just wish it could have been different at the end.’’
Class AAAA, A
Westover’s Jackie Childs had a big day in the Class AAAA state meet. Childs won the 110-meter hurdles and finished eighth in the 300 hurdles, and Tyler Sheffel finished seventh in the 800 to help the Patriots, who finished 15th in the meet with 18 points. Monroe was 11th in the AAAA meet with 22 points, thanks to Kevin Williams, who scored all the Tornadoes’ points this weekend by winning the long jumps, finishing second in the triple jump and fifth in the high jump.
Bryton Wenzel had a monster meet for Baconton Charter and capped off the three days with a state title in the 800 on Saturday. Wenzel scored 24 of Baconton Charter’s 28 points in the Class A meet by winning the 1,600, the 800 and finishing fifth in the discus.
Randolph-Clay freshman Robert Grooms finished second in the 800 for the Red Devils, and Pelham’s Christian Drake was fourth in the 100 in the Class AA meet.