By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
McEachern’s 400 meter relay team, the fastest in Georgia and ranked in the top five nationally, was disqualified during last week’s Region 4AAAAA meet, when the Hillgrove head coach Antoine Prince protested that the McEachern team was taunting others on the track.
The disqualification means that the unit — made up of seniors Xavier Jackson, Amba Etta-tawo, Jelani Wells and Victor Brannan — will not have the opportunity to run in Saturday’s sectional meet, nor in the state meet, May 10-13, in Jefferson. McEachern’s 40.95 is the fourth fastest time in the nation thus far.
According to McEachern head coach Philip Hoskins, after Wells completed the third leg of the relay and handed the baton to Brannon, the anchor, Wells raised his arms out to the side as he continued to jog down the track. Initially, one race official wanted to disqualify McEachern because she thought Wells’ arms made contact with another runner. However, that official was overruled by the starter who said he did not see any other runners near Wells.
“There was no one even close to him,” Hoskins said.
But that’s when Prince protested that Wells was taunting the other teams on the track, even though his relay team was not in the same heat with McEachern. That protest was eventually upheld by a jury of appeals made up of the head coaches from three other teams participating in the meet — South Cobb, Pebblebrook and Campbell. The vote was 2-1, in favor of upholding the disqualification.
Prince has not returned phone calls or emails for his side of the story.
Top performances at region. There were a number of stellar individual performances at the region championship meets last week.
Girls: Alexa Womack, a junior at Walton, won the 1,600 meters at the Region 5AAAA championships in a time of 5:07.00, the sixth fastest time in the state this season … Alpharetta junior Rachel Thorne won the 3,200 meters at the Region 6AAAA meet in 11.02.62, the second fastest time in Georgia … Sahara Fletcher, a junior at Westminster, won the 800 meters in 2:15.24 at the Region 6AA meet. It is the top time in the state… Peachtree Ridge senior Autumn Burnette ran the state’s best time so far in the 300 meter hurdles, 42.39, to win the Region 7AAAAA title in the event … Howard junior Anasterasia Terrell won the Region 2AAA triple jump with a leap of 41-feet, 2-inches, tops in Georgia … Senior Felicia Brown and junior Jada Martin finished first and second, respectively, in the 200 meters at the Region 2AAAAA championships. Their times, 23.59 and 23.65, are the first and second best in Georgia … Mill Grove junior Malayshia George ran a state-best 54.20 to win the 400 meter title at the Region 7AAAAA meet…
Boys: Flowery Branch senior Austin Eckenroth won the Region 8AAAA title in the pole vault, going 16-feet, 8-inches. It is the top vault in the state… Westover senior Dontrevious Ousley threw the discus 190-feet, 6-inches to win the Region 1AAA meet and record the state’s best throw… Michael Newton, a senior at Sprayberry, ran the state’s fastest time in the 400 meters, 46.54, to win the Region 5-AAAA title … Kell senior Devon Williams won the 110 and 300 meter hurdle titles at the Region 5AAAA championships in times of 14.13 and 37.97, respectively. Both are the third fastest in the state… Grady senior Zane Coburn won the 800 meter championship at the Region 5AAA meet in a time of 1:53.00, the second fastest time in Georgia… Stone Mountain’s 1,600 meter relay team ran the state’s fastest time, 3:15.84, to win the Region 5AAA title.