MARTINEZ — The Bulloch Academy boys’ track team did something Wednesday that no other Gator or Lady Gator team has ever done.
It won a Class AAA region championship.
The BA boys netted 152.5 points to win the GISA Region 4-AAA track and field title in the seven-team meet at Augusta Preparatory School. Bethesda Day School of Savannah was second with 146.33 points and John Milledge Academy from Milledgeville was third with 144.5.Z
“Going into the final race, 2 ½ points separated the top three schools,” said BA head track coach Clint Morgan. “The boys have a very competitive region.”
For the last three years, the Gators have easily won the Region 2-AA titles but, with the move up in classification to Class AAA, Bulloch’s dominance was in doubt.
“I had no doubts whether or not we could compete,” said Morgan. “My doubts were whether or not the kids knew that they could compete. Going from Double-A to Triple-A is a big jump. Everybody seemed to step up to the challenge. The bar has now officially been raised.”
The Gators pulled four first-place finishes, three seconds, six thirds and four fourths to score the points needed to claim the region championship.
The Lady Gators finished second with 192.50 points to earn the region runner-up trophy. Trinity Christian School of Dublin won the title with 202.5 points and Pinewood Christian from Bellville was third with 82. Bulloch amassed big points with three firsts, six seconds, nine thirds and six fourths but the Lady Crusaders had too many first-place wins and one-two combinations.
BA senior Rachel Gilbert tallied 32.5 points to tie for the girls’ high-point trophy with Trinity’s Katie Rose Alligood and Anna Claire Knight. Gilbert won the region championship in the 100-meter hurdles (16.26), the 200m dash (27.34) and ran a leg on the winning 4x400m relay team (4:12.33) with Anna Newton, Taylor Collins and Emily Morgan. She finished second in the 400m dash and ran a leg on the second-place 4x100m relay team with Newton, Mary Margaret Reeves and Pate Lomax.
The 16.26 in the hurdles was a new school record and the high-point award was Gilbert’s fifth straight in her high-school career.
“This is an amazing accomplishment,” Morgan. “I’ve had athletes with perfect scores before (35) in a particular season. That seems amazing. But, to be the best track and field athlete in your region for five consecutive years is simply mind-boggling.”
Senior John Harden led the BA boys with two individual wins, taking the region title in the 110m hurdles (15.55) and the 300m hurdles (42.13), and also running a leg on the winning 4x400m relay team (3:36.81) with fellow senior Ellis Lane, junior Jaylen Evans and sophomore Harrison Averitt . Sophomore Ross Rainey was the region champion in the high jump with a leap of 6-2.
But, more importantly, all advanced to next week’s GISA Class AAA state track and field championships at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany. The top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet on May 28-30.
In fact, Bulloch Academy will have 41 entries — 24 in the girls’ meet and 17 in the boys’ meet — in the state championships.
For the boys, other state qualifiers and their events are Evans (long jump, high jump, 4x100m relay), Lane (4x100m relay), Averitt (400m dash), Lestonz Lewis (shot, 100m dash, 200m dash, 4x100m relay), Will Johnson (3200m and 1600m runs), Haze Smith (3200m run), Blaine Lovett (pole vault, 110m hurdles), Forest Spence (300m hurdles) and Aaron Best (4x100m relay).
The 4x100m relay team of Lane, Lewis, Evans and Best set a new school record with a time of 44:33.
For the girls, other state qualifiers and their events are Collins (discus, shot, high jump), Newton (high jump, 100m dash, 400m dash), Reeves (200m dash, 4x400m relay), Lomax (1600m run, 4x400m relay), Sally Marie Futch (discus, shot), Lomax (1600m run), Emily Morgan (3200m run, 800m run), Marianna Peebles (pole vault), Merrill Nelson (pole vault, 100m hurdles), Haley Burke (triple jump, 300m hurdles, 4x400m relay) and Page Spence (300m hurdles, 4x400m relay).
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we are going to respond and rise to the challenge knowing that we can now compete with the Triple-A powers,” said Morgan.