When all was said and done at last weekend’s state track and field championships in Jefferson, the Portal boys squad was able to bring home a top-20 finish.
It was quite literally a one-man show for the Panthers.
Sophomore Malik Williams accounted for all of Portal’s points. Williams finished third in the high jump and registered a fourth place finish in the 200 meter dash.
“I thought that I did pretty well last year, but I didn’t make it to state,” Williams said. “That really encouraged me to work harder this season. I got a lot better and was able to make it all the way.”
After making it through region and sectional competitions, Williams was able to compete against the best in the state. Upon arriving, he quickly noticed that the state finals were a far cry from some of the humbler venues that the Panthers regularly compete at.
“It’s crazy to see so many teams and so many fans,” Williams said. “You just have to focus on what you’re there to do. By the end of the day, I wanted to be recognized and to put Portal’s name on the map.”
In her four seasons at Statesboro High, there aren't many things that Sarah Jane Bowers hasn't conquered.
As a freshman, Bowers stepped in and immediately started to lead the Lady Blue Devils on the golf course. Last season, when SHS didn't have the numbers to field a girls team, she took her cuts with the boys squad and helped the team reach the state finals.
This season, the Lady Devils are back and Bowers is their unquestioned leader.
"Sarah Jane is a big part of this team," SHS coach Sam Rogers said. "She has worked hard to improve her game and she's been a big help to some of our girls who haven't played as much."
Bowers was the low medalist at the Region 3-AAAA championship and her 82 at sectionals two weeks ago helped the team qualify for the state finals.
The competition should be fierce, but Bowers has a bit of a home course advantage. The girls' Class AAAA finals will be held at Waynesbori Country Club — the site of Bowers' great play at the region finals.
"It will definitely be nice for her to get a chance to play the finals at a course she's played throughout middle school and high school," Rogers said. "But it won't make things that much easier. The course is playing much different right now and there are a lot of girls that will push her."