The senior leadership at Southeast Bulloch has not gone unnoticed by track and field coach Jeremy Gantt.
Over the past four years, the Yellow Jackets have turned the program around, winning two region championships and finishing runner-up in the region twice.
This season, it will be the seniors that will once again lead SEB as the GHSA Track and Field state championships get into full swing, today.
A.J. Lanier, Ladarion Fonseca and Cecil McCollum — all seniors — along with Georden Batton qualified for state in the 4x100-meter relays.
Seniors Justin Todd and Quinn Pitts also qualified for state in the pole vault and 3,200 meter run, respectively.
Brandon Hill, competing in the discus, rounds out the Yellow Jackets' state qualifiers.
“These guys have been doing this a long time. I’ve got a lot of seniors with me and they have helped change the way people view SEB track and field,” said Gantt during Thursday’s field events. “A lot of these guys have been here before, and you can tell the difference.”
McCollum is coming off a hamstring injury in region, but still managed to compete in the 4x100.
Gantt said McCollum is fulfilling “an important leadership role” for SEB.
At this point, Gantt said his team’s success relies on focus from his senior athletes.
In similar fashion, Statesboro High's squad will rely on its senior group to have a positive performance at state.
The SHS boys’ team qualified two relay teams and two individual runners.
Dementrius Davis and Dylan Harris both qualified for state in the 110-meter hurdles. Statesboro’s 4x100-meter relay team, featuring Ronnie Reed, Stacy Flemming, Jonte Gantt and Jaden Adams, qualified for state after finishing fourth in sectionals with a time of 42.22.
The relay team took many by surprise considering it's the Blue Devils ‘B’ team.
Statesboro’s 4x400-meter relay team will also compete at state. Davis, Reggie Hunter, Qwalix Hawkins and Uche Okafor are looking to close out a solid season.
“Its been a great team effort from these boys. From the injuries, to having to shift things around, these guys have been a very resilient group. They’ve shown a lot of character,” said SHS track and field coach Bo Viness.
Coming back from injuries is what the Blue Devils have done all season. Harris was in a serious car accident, but not only did he recover, he excelled.
“Dylan (Harris) coming back from a serious injury was great to see, but we’ve seen that across the board,” Viness said. “They know it’s a team effort. It speaks to their senior leadership and how they battle.”
Malik Williams will be the sole entry for the Portal Panthers at state. He finished in the top eight at sectionals in the triple jump.
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.