ALBANY — The Monroe High School girls track & field coach Billy Glanton came into Saturday’s state finals on edge, but his team would put their coach at ease and finish the day on top.
Monroe finished the day with 81 points in Class AAAA and captured its first state title since 2012 in the Georgia High School Association state track & field meet at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Marist finished second with 62 points, followed by Woodward Academy with 48.5, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro with 39 and Fayette County with 29.
The Lady Tornadoes set the tone with the first race of the day, the 4X100-meter relay. The team of Jaeda Hunt, J’Milya Poole, Kandice Clyde and Jahari Williams finished at 46.17, more than good enough for first.
Hunt and Poole gathered points in the 400 meter dash after finishing fourth and sixth respectively. Monroe took a six-point lead after Williams and Clyde finished second and sixth respectively in the 100-meter dash.
Albany’s Jakaela Dungee finished fourth in that same race and was the lone representative of the school on Saturday. Overall, she said she was pleased with her efforts.
“I feel like I did good, but I could’ve done better,” she said. “But I have came up since last year when I was a sophomore, so to make it here is a good experience.”
Dungee was a part of the 4X100-meter relay team that placed third in the state last year, but untimely injuries kept them from competing in the finals this year. As a key member, she said this year was a minor setback and she expects them to be contenders next year.
“We’re gonna do better, we’re gonna be here,” she said.
As the day progressed, Monroe saw Williams and Hunt finish second and fourth respectively in the 200-meter dash and Deaundria Anderson and Zamaria Shead finish seventh and eighth respectively in the 800.
Poole took second in the 300-meter hurdles and at that point, Glanton felt he could relax. Monroe had built a 69-57 lead with just the 4X400 to go and with two teams competing, he knew it was in the bag.
The ‘A’ team finished first with a time of 3:45.58, just missing the state record by three-hundredths of a second. The ‘B’ team, made up of Artexis Drake, Isis McVay, Anderson and Shead finished seventh with a time of 3:58.76.
Afterward, Glanton credited Williams for a stellar performance despite injury but added that everyone playing their part and picking up points made the win possible.
“”I think the girls had full confidence that they would win it, it was just a matter of how they were gonna win it,” he said. “We had a lot of second place, third place, fourth place people who chipped in points and that was important.”
For Williams, who was limited in last year’s state meet after suffering a different leg injury a few days prior, there was no doubt in her mind she was going to leave it on the track her senior season.
“When I got injured last year, I told myself I was gonna go hard at state,” she said. “And state prelims this year, I got hurt by straining my hamstring, but I still pushed through. I still PR-ed and I’m just happy.”
The Terrell County Lady Greenwave finished sixth in the Class A public division thanks to strong performances from Tanisha Huckaby and Tamarius Whitting.
The duo finished second and fourth respectively in the 100-meter hurdles earlier on the day. Huckaby also took fifth in the 200-meter dash, while Whitting finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles. Head coach Terence Moon said while his team wasn’t full strength, having suffered a slew of injuries throughout the season, he liked what he saw on the weekend.
“Overall, I think they did great, probably could’ve done better,” he said. “At the present time, what we got out of the kids that came, I think they did well.”
Mitchell County’s Bristol Hicks placed third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.01.