(Girls) Track and Field: State Championship Preview

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Last weekend the boys braved stiff winds, unseasonably cold temperatures and a day-long downpour at the finals of the State Track and Field Finals in Jefferson. This weekend the girls look to have much better conditions in Albany as they vie for state supremacy.

Here’s a quick primer:

AAAAAA

The skinny: Westlake looks like the favorite to win its second team title in five years (2009). The Lions will send a state-best 15 competitors to Albany, along with four relay teams. Sprinter SheKara Martin could win the 100 and 200 meters.

Also in the mix: Alpharetta, Brookwood, Luella, McEachern, Mill Creek, Parkview, Peachtree Ridge, Roswell.

Other athletes to watch: Casidy Callahan, Norcross (Discus, Shot put); Storm Phillips, Valdosta (Long jump); Allie Buchalski, Johns Creek (1,600 and 3,200 meters).

AAAAA

The skinny: Kell superstar Kendall Williams will try to close out her brilliant career by leading the Longhorns to their first team championship in track and field. But Dunwoody will pose a challenge, as will 2011 champion M.L. King, led by LSU-bound sprinter Jada Martin. With the warm weather expected, she and Cassondra Hall of Northside-Warner Robins could push one another to challenge the AAAAA state record in the 100 meters, set in 2008 by Newan’s Chalondra Goodman, now running at Texas.

Also in the mix: Northside-Warner Robins, Northside-Columbus, Miller Grove, New Manchester.

Other athletes to watch: Kenya Wheeler, Southwest DeKalb (Shot put, Discus); Cassondra Hall, Northside-Warner Robins (100 and 200 meters); Alex Cameron, Dunwoody (3,200 meters).

AAAA

The skinny: Marist, led by distance specialist Morgan Ilse, will try to end one of the most dominant reigns in Georgia high school sports – Monroe-Albany’s four consecutive team championships. The Tornadoes, who moved up from AAA, are a threat to make it five. Defending AAAA champion Redan is a contender as well. Monroe Area sprinter Javianne Oliver is a threat to break the AAAA state records in the 200 meters and 100 meters, where the old mark (11.50) has stood since 1986 (Anita Howard, Butler).

Also in the mix: Carrollton, Rutland, Shaw, Fayette County, Westover.

Other athletes to watch: Adriunna Brown, Rutland (Long jump); Nyla Woods, Grady (Shot put); Anasterasia Terrell, Howard (Triple jump).

AAA

The skinny: With Monroe-Albany gone, the field is wide open. Blessed Trinity is a contender, paced by Bailey Willett, the favorite in the 800 meters. But Cedar Grove, which won the AA crown in 1995, will be right there, led by twin sisters Christian (400 meters, 300 meter hurdles) and Kayla Pryor (400 and 800 meters).

Also in the mix: Chapel Hill, Douglass, North Oconee, Oconee County, Southeast Bulloch.

Other athletes to watch: Haley Reynolds, Gordon Central (Discus, Shot put); Gabrielle Hoffman, North Hall (Pole vault); Halimah Barlow, Douglass (200 meters).

AA

The skinny: Greater Atlanta Christian has a good shot at defending its title, but will have to hold off a crowded field of contenders, including Wesleyan, Lovett and Westminster, distance specialists Sahara Fletcher and Charlotte Folinus. Watch for public schools Laney and Putnam County to be there at the end as well.

Also in the mix: Jefferson, Rabun County, Screven County, Cook County.

Other athletes to watch: Maileka Slayton, Greater Atlanta Christian (100 and 200 meters); Taylor DeLoach, St. Vincent’s Academy (Long jump).

A-Private

The skinny: Athens Christian, which won the boys title going away, will try to pull off the sweep and win its fourth consecutive state crown. But Our Lady of Mercy will provide a tough challenge, led by sprinters Morgan McClure, a senior, and sophomore Leah Banks.

Also in the mix: Mt. Pisgah, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (SACA), Whitefield Academy, Landmark Christian.

Other athletes to watch: Marquita Daniels, SACA (100 and 200 meters); Maddie Felts, Galloway (44.54); Anna Machovec, Prince Avenue Christian (Discus, Shot put).

A-Public

The skinny: Metter was the last public school to win a team title in the state’s smallest classification, with it tied Landmark Christian in 2000. With public and private schools separate in Class A for the first time, several teams are in contention for the public championship, including Commerce, Marion County and Georgia Military College.

Also in the mix: Gordon Lee, Jenkins County, Miller County, Terrell County.

Other athletes to watch: Katelyn Lee, Gordon Central (Discus); Jada Gardner, Marion County (Triple jump); Cavana Epps, Central-Talbotton (1,600 and 3,200 meters).

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