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Host Gators take 3rd at Relays
Bulloch Academy senior Ethan Lovett stretches out over a hurdle during the third heat of the 110-meter hurdles at the 9th annual Gator Relays Saturday at Georgia Southern University’s track and field complex. Lovett won the event with a career best time of 15.46. - photo by RAHN HUTCHESON/Special to the Herald
    Hundreds of high-school athletes and their supporters filled the Georgia Southern University track and field complex as 21 boys’ teams and 20 girls’ squads competed in Bulloch Academy’s ninth annual Gator Relays Saturday.
    “It was a great day,” said Bulloch Academy athletic director and head boys’ and girls’ coach Clint Morgan. “We had some very well respected track programs from the GISA (Georgia Independent School Association). The high level of competition brought out the best in all of the athletes.”
    Nine Class AAA schools, eight Class AA schools and four Class A schools were represented. The field events had huge participation while three full heats, and sometimes four, were the norm for the running events.
    Class AAA powerhouse Mount de Sales of Macon took both team trophies, narrowly winning the hotly-contested girls’ meet with 90.5 points and scoring 114 points the boys’ meet for a comfortable victory.
    In the girls’ competition, Class AAA Stratford Academy of Macon took second with 86 points while Class AA Bulloch Academy was third (81), Class AAA Dominion Christian of Marietta finished fourth (72) and Class AAA Pinewood Christian of Bellville was fifth (52).
    In the boys’ meet, Class AAA Dominion Christian took second with 99.5 points while Class AA Bulloch Academy was third (75), Class AAA Augusta Prep of Martinez was fourth (59.5) and Class AAA Deerfield-Windsor of Albany was fifth (55).
    “I am very happy with the way that we competed,” Morgan said of his BA athletes. “Two third-place team finishes in a meet like this is awesome. Our kids had so many personal bests.”
    Freshman Rachel Gilbert scored big points to lead the charge for the Lady Gators. She won the 400-meter run (63.19) and had second-place finishes in the long jump (15-9) and the 200m (27.25). She also ran anchor legs on the second-place 1600m relay team (4:29) of Kinsley Mallard, Taylor Collins and Kaylee Lanier and the third-place 400m relay team (53.80) of Mallard, Collins and Lanier.
    Senior Ethan Lovett was the big man for the Gators. He won both the 110m hurdles (15.46) and the 300m hurdles (40.68) and was third in the pole vault (11-6). He also ran legs on the 1600 and 400m relay teams which finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
    “If we would have kept individual points, both Rachel and Ethan would have won the high-point trophies,” said Morgan. “Rachel got beat by an inch on the last jump in the long jump. A 15.4 in the 110-hurdles for Ethan is amazing. He knocked almost a full second off of his career best.”
    Other Lady Gators who had great days were freshman Sally Marie Futch, who won the discus with a heave of 103-4, and eighth grader Taylor Collins, who was third in the 400m run (64.97).
    For the boys, Junior Chan Newton took second in the high jump with a leap of 6-1 and senior Darion Carter was third in the 200m (23.50).
    “Chan had his career best,” said Morgan. “Sally Marie’s throw in the discus was huge. The boys’ 4x400m relay team knocked 16 seconds from their time on Wednesday. Kaylee Dennard also impressed me because she knocked so much time off of her bests in both sets of hurdles.
    “I would like to thank Georgia Southern athletic director Sam Baker for the opportunity to hold the meet at the facility,” added Morgan. “I would especially like to thank GSU head women’s track coach Natalie Smith and her coaching staff for working the event, our event sponsors Waffle House, Walker Pharmacy, Southern Maids Cleaning Service, Ellis Meats and Hendley Properties and the many supporters and volunteers who helped make the Gator Relays a success. This was the biggest and best yet and we look forward to next year’s 10th anniversary to be even bigger and better.”