Deerfield’s Kh’Ron McClain grimaces as he crosses the finish line in the 200-meter finals Saturday at Hugh Mills. McClain came in a disappointing second, capping an overall frustrating day as the team for the Knights, who were one of the favorites to win the state title at the GISA Track & Field Championships but settled for second instead. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — They ran in the rain and the wind — and in more rain — and scored 107 points.
They ran to win it all.
And yet, after putting together one of the strongest performances in the school’s history, the Deerfield-Windsor boys track & field team came up just short Saturday at the GISA Class AAA State Track & Field Championships at a wet and soggy Hugh Mills Stadium, finishing second to Stratford.
“We scored 100 points, and that’s usually enough to win a state title,’’ said DWS coach Craig Rhodes, whose program last won the state title in 2009. “There’s that old term about leaving it all on the track. Well, we left it all on the track. That’s all you can ask for. I’m really proud of them. They left it all out there. You just have to tip your hat to Stratford.
“We were disappointed in the final results, but we weren’t at all disappointed in the effort.”
Stratford emerged with the title with 135 points on a day when DWS scored 107 1/2.
“We really had a tough time holding off Deerfield,’’ Stratford coach Walt Mays said. “They had a great day. We really have a lot of respect for coach Rhodes and his program. We just had a big day from our kids.’’
The DWS kids left the track with a lot of pride.
"I think we gave it everything we had,'' said Kh'Ron McClain, who finished second in the 100-meter dash and third in the 200. "It's always a letdown to finish second, but everybody contributed on the team, and everybody did the best they could do. We can feel good about that.''
Teammate Jay Barber was right behind McClain, finishing fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 as DWS doubled up on points in the sprints. Both ran on DWS' 4x100 relay team that finished third. Davis Hines and Dee Barber also ran on that team.
"We left it all on the track,'' said Jay Barber, sounding a lot like his coach.
DWS also got double points in the 110-hurdles, where Aaron McNutt was third and Dallas Margeson was seventh. Chris Boswell finished fifth in the 400 for the Knights, who were on Stratford's heels all day Saturday, staying within five or six points for most of the day.
The Deerfield girls, who won their first state title last year, came back with a young team and finished fourth in this year's state meet, which was won by Bulloch with 108 points. DWS scored 80 — and the Lady Knights did it with just one senior on the track.
"We did some great things and ran some PR's,'' DWS girls coach Allen Lowe said. "We just didn't have enough to be on top.
"We've got most everybody coming back, and we're coming away from this meet with a lot of positives, and looking forward to next year.''
The Lady Knights were led by junior Libby Greene, who was third in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump on Friday and finished fourth in the 100-hurdles on Saturday. She also ran on the 4x100 relay team that finished third.
Sophomore Tarah Young took second place in the 200, and finished fourth in 100, but her brightest moment of the day came in the 4x100 relay when she ran an inspiring anchor leg, taking DWS from seventh place to third place. Maggie Greene, Libby Greene, Young and Samantha James ran on that relay team. James also finished eighth in the 100.
DWS' 4x400 relay team finished third as Virginia Moore ran the anchor for the all underclass team that included Young, Mary Crisp and eighth-grader Alex Holloway, who finished fourth in the 400 in her debut in the state meet.
It was a tough meet for Westwood's teams, which have dominated track & field for years at the Class A level. But the GISA moved Westwood into AA this year, and it slowed down Earl Ford's juggernaut.
But it didn't stop it.
Competing against the much bigger schools, Westwood still finished fourth in the boys and girls state meets and made a statement.
"The conditions were really tough this week,'' Ford said of the rain. "And the competition was even tougher. We stepped up, but we now know that we are going to have to step up even more next year to be able to win at this level. There are a lot of teams like Trinity and Gatewood and Brentwood with a lot of tradition. These are real good programs. But I was proud of our kids. We were in the top four, and that was one of our goals to be in it at the end, and we were in the top four.''
Savannah Jones finished fourth in the 300-hurdles and seventh in the 100-hurdles to lead the way Saturday, and Elizabeth Delk was eighth in the 100 for the Lady Wildcats.
The Westwood boys got points in the running finals from Collier Baggett (fourth in the 300-hurdles), Ridge Collins (sixth in the 110-hurdles), Ralph Collins (seventh in the 110-hurdles) Dylon Smith (seventh in the 100), and the 4x100 relay team (J.T. Edore, Ridge Collins, Baggett and Smith) that finished fifth.
Sherwood Christian's William Orr finished fourth in the 800 and Terrell Academy's Raleigh Carlson was eighth in the 100 in the boys AA meet, and SGA's Annie Bridges was eighth in the 300-hurdles and SGA's Kendyl Carver was seventh in the 400 for the Lady Warriors in the AA meet.
Crisp Academy's girls 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams (Mandie Foster, Kara White, Jacqueline Yawn and Parker Krause) finished third in both races, and Crisp's Grace Atherton finished fifth in the 3,200 and eighth in the 400 in the Class A meet.
Randolph Southern's Marquan Jones finished second in the 300-hurdles and Trey Goree (fourth in the 110-hurdles) and Matt Bradley (seventh in the 3,200) scored for the Patriots in the boys Class A meet.