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First Presbyterian sweeps Gator Relays
BA 6 col col
Bulloch Academy sophomore Chan Newton tries to curve his body around the bar during an attempt in the boys’ high jump at the 8th annual Gator Relays Saturday. - photo by RAHN HUTCHESON/Special
   When Bulloch Academy athletic director and head coach Clint Morgan got the idea to host the 8th annual Gator Relays at Georgia Southern University’s state-of-the-art track and field facility, he knew this year’s meet would be one of the best ever.
    “In the past, I’ve had to beg teams to come,” said Morgan. “This year, when word got out that it was going to be at Georgia Southern’s facility, I didn’t have to invite anyone. They all called me. In fact, we even had to turn some schools away.”
    Hundreds of high-school athletes and their supporters filled the stadium as 16 boys’ and girls’ teams competed for the top team trophies. Nine of the teams were Class AAA schools, six were from Class AA schools and one was Class A.
    The draw, according to Morgan, was the fully automated timing system that the GSU track and field program utilizes, the cushioned running surface and the level of competition.
    “The track is a mondo surface, which is top of the line as far as track surfaces go,” he said. “It’s actually a step above the surface at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany, where the state meet is held. We had the majority of the top athletes in the GISA (Georgia Independent School Association) here in Statesboro today.”
    Even though the day was bitterly cold and extremely windy, the competition was fierce and furious. The field events had huge participation while three full heats were the norm for the running events.
     “I’ve always told other coaches that if they are looking for a cold or rainy-weather event, they need to sign up for the Gator Relays,” joked Morgan. “But, every year, it winds up being a great meet.”
    Class AAA powerhouse First Presbyterian Day School of Macon walked away with both team trophies, winning the girls’ meet with 129 points and the boys’ meet with 149 points.
In the girls’ competition, Westwood Academy of Camilla took second with 88 points while Augusta Prep was third (65), Stratford Academy of Macon finished fourth (49) and Dominion Christian of Marietta was fifth (42). Bulloch Academy was sixth with 41 points.
    For the Lady Gators, eighth grader Sally Marie Futch had a breakout performance in the discus, muscling up to win second with a throw of 88-10. Sophomore Susanna McKee also scored big points with a second-place finish in the 800m run (2:40.1). Freshman Kelcie Jacobs was third in the 1600m run (6:03.1) and the 4x400m relay team of Hinton, Gilbert, McKee and Kaylee Lanier was also third (4:28.9).
    In the boys’ meet, Mount de Sales took second with 65.5 points while Dominion Christian was third (56.5) and Pinewood Christian was fourth (53). Bulloch was seventh with 22 points.
    For the Gators, junior Ethan Lovett took third in the pole vault with at a height of 11-0. Sophomore Chan Newton tied for third in the high jump with a leap of 5-8.
    “I would like to thank Georgia Southern athletic director Sam Baker for the opportunity to hold the meet at the facility,” said Morgan. “I would especially like to GSU head women’s track coach Natalie Smith for working the meet, our event sponsors Waffle House, Walker Pharmacy, Southern Maids Cleaning Service, Ellis Meats, Hendley Properties and Sonic and the many supporters and volunteers who helped make the Gator Relays a success.”