God must be a track and field fan.
Even though the weather forecasts called for a nearly 100 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms with the possibility of hail throughout the day Saturday, Bulloch Academy head track coach Barbara Conner refused to cancel the school’s signature Spring event, the Gator Relays.
The odds weren’t in her favor until the late morning.
“When I looked at the radar toward the end of the field events,” she said, “it looked like the parting of the Red Sea. The storms went to the north of us and to the south of us. I said, ‘Lord, thank you.’”
After a soggy 10 a.m. start, the rains stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone bright as both Bulloch Academy squads rolled to first-place victories in the 15th annual event.
The girls’ team amassed 191 points to win claim its second straight Gator Relays trophy. The boys’ squad netted 136 points for the victory. Although the threat of inclement weather caused some teams to cancel the trip to the Relays, the all-classification meet still boasted some of the best athletes in the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA). Student-athletes representing 13 independent schools from around the state converged on Georgia Southern University’s track and field facility.
“The track surface at Georgia Southern is so comparable to what we run on at state (Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany),” said Conner. “It makes people want to run there to prepare for the state meet. I hated that those three other schools decided not to come but, if I had been in their position, I would have probably done the same thing.”
In the boys’ meet, Griffin Christian High School finished second with 112.5 points while Trinity Christian School of Sharpsburg was third with 94. In the girls’ meet, Trinity Christian School of Sharpsburg was second (118) and Mount de Sales of Macon was third (99)
The Bulloch boys won only three first-place efforts but had five seconds, five thirds, three fourths, three fifths and two sixths. The Lady Gators captured five firsts, eight seconds, sixth thirds, two fourths, three fifths and five sixths.
All first-place winners received souvenir Gator Relays t-shirts, compliments of the meet’s sponsors Sheppard Lumber, Statesboro Appliance Center, Video Warehouse, Buns Restaurant, Hendley Properties, Cope Eye Clinic, Sapp Outdoor Advertising and McDougald Oil Company.
“It’s all about pulling points and making every one of them count,” said Conner. “Depth is the key for us. If you come up against our boys and girls without a strong team across the board, we are going to beat you up. We had a lot of personal bests. The biggest thing for us was the field events.”
Senior Will Bohlke won two field events, the long jump (19-10½) and the triple jump (39-2¾).
“I watched him last year and could tell that he was going to mature and be a big part of this year’s team,” said Conner.
Senior Daniel Hendrix won the pole vault (9-6). Second-place efforts were turned in by Hendrix (400m, 53.25), junior Dylan Stuckey (shot, 39-2; 300m hurdles, 44.49), the number one 4x100m relay team (44.86) and the number one 4x400m relay team (3:41.13).
Third-place finishes were captured by freshman Jack Fortune (triple jump), junior Atys Cope (110m hurdles, 300m hurdles), senior Christopher Williams (1600m run) and senior Matt Sheppard (200m dash).
For the girls, senior Chelsea Oglesby won the shot put (33-06½), senior Danielle Atkinson took the pole vault (8-0), junior Page Spence was first in the discus (86-9), freshman Dailey Averitt captured the 400m dash (66.26) and the number one 4x400 relay team was victorious (4:26).
Second-place winners were Spence (pole vault, 8-0), Oglesby (long jump, 15-8), junior Kristin Kingery (100m hurdles, 17.91; 300m hurdles, 53.5), junior Ashley Burke (1600m run, 5:42; 800m run, 2:35) and the number one 4x100m relay team (54.31).
Third-place finishers were Burke (3200m run), Oglesby (triple jump), Kingery (long jump), Spence (300m hurdles) and freshman Alivia Collins (shot put, discus).