ALBANY — The Bulloch Academy girls notched only two points during the first day of competition in the GISA Class AAA state track and field championships at Hugh Mills Stadium here Thursday.
But it was two more than BA head girls’ coach Barbara Conner expected.
Junior Ashley Burke finished seventh in the 1600-meter run, clocking a 5:35.11 in the highly-competitive race to put the Lady Gators in sixth place on the leader board.
“Based on her time in region last week,” said Conner, “Ashley was projected to finish 10th and earn no points. Earning any points was an unexpected blessing.”
The race was the day’s only final in the full afternoon of relay, hurdles and sprint qualifying heats.
The Lady Gators had its 4x100m relay team qualify for Saturday’s running finals as well as two girls in the 300m hurdles and one in the 400m dash. The Bulloch boys qualified in the 200m dash, the 400m dash and the 300m hurdles.
The foursome of senior Chelsea Oglesby, juniors Pate Lomax and Kristin Kingery and freshman Dailey Averitt turned in a 52.40 to earn a spot in the finals. Kingery clocked the best time in the 300m hurdles (49.52) while classmate Page Spence ran a 51.53. Averitt secured a lane in the 400m dash final with a 1:05.71.
For the Gator guys, senior John Paul Padilla ran a 23.83 in the 200m dash for his spot on Saturday. Senior Daniel Hendrix qualified in the 400m dash with a 52.87. Junior Dylan Stuckey had the second-fasted time in the 300m hurdles (42.41).
The Bulloch girls are the reigning Class AAA state champions and have a good chance of repeating. But an early-meet mishap may make it a little closer than expected.
Kingery, the Region 4-AAA champion in the 100m hurdles who had the best qualifying time coming in, failed to qualify when she fell to the ground early in the race.
“She was in the lead,” said Conner. “She was running so hard. She stumbled going into the third hurdle and that put her off balance as she cleared it. She landed wrong and fell.”
But Kingery shook off the disappointment, regained her composure and recovered to turn in the best time in the 300m hurdles.
In other action, senior Christopher Williams finished ninth in the boys’ 1600m run (5:07.66) and eighth grader Mattie Wynn Hendrix was 11th in the girls’ 1600m run (5:50.31).
Today’s meet features the strength of the Lady Gators.
“Field events are our strong suit,” said Conner. “That’s where we have to score some major points.”
Oglesby is the reigning shot put champion and will also compete in the long jump and triple jump as well. Spence will be in the pole vault and the discus. Lomax will be a busy young lady as well, running in the 800m finals and competing in the high jump and the triple jump.
Others seeing field-event action will be senior Danielle Atkinson (pole vault) and Averitt (high jump). Both Lady Gator 4x400m relay teams will also try to qualify in the day’s last event.
Senior Will Bohlke leads the Gator assault by competing in the triple and long jumps. Williams will run in the 800m, Hendrix will pole vault, junior Hunter Perry will high jump and freshman G.C. Kimbrell with throw the discus. Both 4x400m relay teams will also try to qualify for Saturday.