Members of the Westover boys track & field team celebrate after winning the L.C. Smith and Winfred Benson Relays Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — Qundez Carter could hear the footsteps behind him.
But the Westover High School sophomore didn’t care. His 4x400-meter relay team trailed Bainbridge by three points in the last event, and Carter could see the finish line.
“I wasn’t worried about Bainbridge or anybody behind me,” Carter said. “I was just worried about winning the meet.”
Carter anchored the last leg on the 4x4 team that also consisted of Jysanti Richardson, Scott Sanders and Tyler Sheffel, helping them finish third with a time of 3:25.84. They scored enough points to help the Patriots win the boys side of the L.C. Smith and Winfred Benson Relays Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium, edging the Bearcats 107-106.
On the girls side, it was nearly a landslide as Monroe’s Lady Tornadoes dominated, finishing with 153 points. The nearest competition came from second-place Northside-Warner Robins, which finished with 63.
It was a bittersweet finish for the Lady Tornadoes, who earned a second-place finish last year on a day they felt like they should have won.
“We worked hard for this (Saturday),” said Monroe sprinter Jhari Williams. “In fact, we worked for this year ‘round.”
Westover’s girls finished with a third-place finish, garnering 63 points, while the Dougherty and Albany High girls finished in a tie for 1oth-place with 18.
The meet became intense for both the Bainbridge and Westover boys teams. The Bearcats had surged ahead by three points in the next-to-last event, the 1600 run. Bainbridge’s Chase Harris finished second, while teammate Drevyon Banks earned a sixth-place finish to help the Bearcats pick up 11 points to grab the lead.
But Patriot coaches told their team what they needed to do in the final event.
“The guys ran hard (Saturday),” Westover boys coach Harley Calhoun said. “It’s nice as a coach when you can tell the team the day before what they’ve got to do, and then they go out there and perform and do it.”
Westover had built a sizeable lead in the team standings after the Patriots completed the field events earlier in the day. The Patriots received a chunk of points in the shot put when Chris O’Neal and Antravious Parks finished 1-2 to earn 18 points.
O’Neal won the event, finishing with a throw of 48 feet, while Parks came in a close second at 47-2.
Then Thomas Langstaff won the pole vault (11-feet, 6-inches), while Sanders took top honors in the long jump (21-11) and Brenton Wimberly won the discus with a throw of 133-11.
“I think the field events helped us out a lot,” O’Neal said. “We scored a lot of points from those events. Those points helped us out a ton.”
The Patriots then added to their lead in the track events, using a 1-2 finish in the 800 from Sheffel (1:58.98) and Martin Jones (2:04.72), while Sanders helped them earn points with a third-place finish in the 400 (51.24). Anfernee Hill also added a third-place finish in the 110 hurdles (15.56).
After never winning a team title in the Smith and Benson Relays before last year, the Patriots have now won it in back-to-back years. It couldn’t have been any better for Carter, who knew exactly the place Westover had to finish in the 4x4. And just like last year, they had to beat out Bainbridge.
“I was just thinking about helping my team to first place,” he said.
While the boys meet came down to a thrilling finish, it wasn’t that way on the girls side as Monroe made it look easy.
About the only negative for the Lady Tornadoes was the championship trophy got broken before it could be awarded to the team. However, that didn’t seem to matter.
“I was very happy with the way the girls performed overall,” Monroe track & field coach Billy Glanton said. “There were a couple of spots where we looked rusty at times, but I thought they performed pretty well.”
Monroe got first-place finishes in the 4x400 relay, from Chakeria Fletcher in the 300 hurdles (46.22), Zamaria Snead (2:29.20) in the 800, Williams in the long jump (17-8 ½) and Ashley Harrell in the shot put (37-3).
Harrell, last year’s Class AAAA state champion in the discus, finished third with a throw of 117 feet.
Two of the more exciting events on the girls side involved a trio of athletes in the 100 and 200. Northside-Warner Robins sprinter Cassondra Hall won the 100 at 11.97 and the 200 with a time of 24.63. However, she was closely followed in both races by Monroe’s Williams and Kandice Clyde.
Williams took second in both events, finishing at 12.14 in the 100 and 25.08 in the 200. Clyde finished third in both as well, finishing at 12.77 in the 100 and 26.38 in the 200.
But the Lady Tornadoes used a pair of third-place finishes from Treasure Frazier (4-6) in the high jump and in the 1600 (5:50.58), a second-place finish from Fletcher in the 400 (59.36), a second-place finish from Deaundria Anderson in the 800 (2:32.20) and second-place finishes from its “A” team in the 4x200 (1:51.01) and 4x100 relay (48.17) to win convincingly.
Westover used a pair of 1-2 finishes in the triple jump from Bryshea Jackson (35-2) and Briana Harpe (33-8 ¾) to finish third. Tiana Campbell added a first-place finish in the high jump (4-10), while Westover’s 4x400 “A” team finished second with a time of 4:09.75.
BOYS NOTES: Monroe finished sixth with 46 points, just a point behind fifth-place Colquitt County. The Tornadoes got a second-place finish from Labrelle Tumblin (15.55) in the 110 hurdles, while Tumaashe Kendrick took second in the 400 (49.93).
Also, Monroe’s 4x400 relay team consisting of Jordan Bell, Xavier Douse, Kendrick and Carl King finished second with a time of 3:23.55.
Albany High finished eighth with 42 points. The Indians got several strong finishes. Devonta Williams was third in the pole vault with a jump of nine feet, while Malik Dungee-Ali finished third in the long jump (21-2). The Indians’ 4x100 “A” team consisting of Gregory Williams, Trevian Jackson, Akeem Williams and Dungee-Ali finished third with a time of 43.01.
GIRLS NOTES: Albany High used a first-place finish from Lindnesha Hudson in the 100 hurdles (15.94) and a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles (49.13) to lead the Squaws.
The best performance from a Dougherty girls athlete was Brittany Fowler’s fourth-place finish in the 100. She finished with a time of 12.81.