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4 area athletes claim state titles

    Track and field has always enjoyed plenty of success in Bulloch County.
    Of the four GHSA and GISA schools in Bulloch, three have at least one team state championship to their credit.
    Following last week’s boys state finals – marking the end of the 2014 season – there are now four more individuals at Statesboro, Portal, and Southeast Bulloch who can stake claims as best in the state in individual events.
    The first to clinch a championship was SEB’s Jasmine Roberts, winning the triple jump May 1, in Albany at the girls’ finals.
    After near misses in each of the last two seasons, the Lady Yellow Jacket senior wasn’t about to bow out in her final chance. Roberts covered 37-feet, 9 ¾-inches, narrowly beating out three other jumpers who cleared the 37-foot mark.
    “It was a little more pressure knowing this was my last chance,” Roberts said. “I definitely wanted to win, but the competition is always really tough.
    “I didn’t jump all that well at first, but when I finally pulled off my best jump, I knew I had (the state title).”
    Also bringing home a girls state title was Portal sophomore Uniqua Mosley.
    Just a sophomore, Mosely qualified for state in four different events and won the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 16.05 seconds.
    Mosley qualified for the state finals in the same event last season, but came up short after stumbling on the first hurdle. This time around, there were no hiccups as she beat the field by a quarter of a second.
    “I was really focused on that first hurdle,” Mosley said. “Once I cleared that, I was feeling good. I knew I could win. Now it’s going to be my goal to keep winning this event the next two years.”
    Just as impressive as Mosley’s individual title was the Portal girls’ sixth place finish in the team competition out of 29 teams in attendance.
    The Lady Panthers squad consisted of just six girls, but came within a point of winning the Region 3-A championship and sent half of the team – Breyonna Raymond and Shacamry Daniels joined Mosley – to the state meet in Albany.
    “We have talented middle school girls coming up and a few girls who will be back from injury next year,” Mosley said. “If we keep working hard, I know we can do even more with a bigger team.”
    Southeast Bulloch claimed another individual state championship — again in the triple jump –—when Preston Smith turned in a distance of 47-feet, 1 1/2-inches at the boys’ state meet in Jefferson last weekend.
    Smith nailed his winning jump early in the day before taking his turn at the high jump, in which he had also qualified for the state finals. By the time he got back to the triple jump, other results had trickled in and he knew that a state title was his.
    “I kind of knew from the beginning of the season that I could contend for a state title,” Smith said. “It was just a matter of working hard and continuing to improve. Coach (Jeremy) Gantt helped the whole team a lot this season and I think all of us took a big step forward.”
    Rounding out the first place finishers was Statesboro’s Zaquavian Smith, who has been setting records for the better part of the last month.
    After earning the high point award at the annual Statesboro Relays and leading the Blue Devils to a Region 3-AAAA championship, Smith set new school marks in the 200 meters, 400 meters, and 4x100 meter relay at the sectional competition. Smith qualified for the state finals in all three of those events, as well as the high jump.
    In the 400 meter final, Smith’s time of 47.60 seconds earned him an individual state championship and broke his own record set just two weeks prior.
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.