With final exams and the end of classes just weeks away, a number of track stars from the area will have another big test over the next three days.
Beginning this afternoon, the GHSA will host the boys state track and field championships in Jefferson, with 30 area athletes hitting the road for the chance to bring home a title.
Over at Statesboro, a total of six will compete in five different events.
In addition to individuals that qualified to go to Jefferson, the Blue Devils will send their 4x100 relay team to Friday’s preliminaries.
“Our relay team has shown improvement throughout the year,” said Statesboro coach Rico Campbell. “There’s going to be a lot of good competition our there, and we know that we’ll be up against some teams that have posted some really impressive times. I feel good about all of our guys. The key will be making sure that all of our handoffs are as clean as possible. That’s where you make up or lose fractions of seconds.”
On the field side of things, Statesboro may have a better chance to bring home an individual title.
After a great showing at the Region 2-AAAA meet, DeQuan Daniels is primed to go up against the best in the state in the long jump.
“I really feel good about DeQuan’s chances,” said Campbell. “He’s put up 22-feet, 4-inches already this season, and the top qualifying jump for state was just an inch more than that. He’s been training hard in the three weeks since region. I think he could get close to 23 feet if everything goes right.”
At the double-A level, Screven County had an impressive nine boys qualify for the meet.
Key to the Gamecocks’ chances in the team point race will be the performance of standout Cornelius Roberts. The senior has starred on the track throughout the past few seasons and will get a chance to claim a title in four different events, including the high jump, long jump, and triple jump – all of which he claimed a title in at the Region 3-AA meet.
In the single-A classification, a slew of local teams will be represented, and one area school or another will have a part in nearly every event.
Region 3-A champion Jenkins County leads the charge, as seven War Eagles get ready to compete.
After narrowly missing out on the region title in 2009, Jenkins County bounced back to secure its seventh region crown three weeks ago in Brooklet.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort that our guys have shown this season,” said Jenkins County coach Charley Waters. “We set a goal at the very beginning of the season that we wanted to be back on top of the region. We’re excited that we were able to accomplish that, and I think that it gives our guys moving on to state a lot of confidence in their abilities.”
Charles Reynolds has a very busy meet to look forward to for the Eagles. Reynolds qualified for spots in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdle events, and will team up with Dag Gay, James Prescott and Johnny Reyes for the 4x400 relay.
Bryan County, which finished just behind Jenkins County at the region meet, has eight state qualifiers.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect at the beginning of the season,” said Bryan coach Blake Nesmith. “I thought we might be around third in the region, but we really came on and exceeded my expectations.”
Looking at the qualifying times, other schools have put up faster times, but Bryan County is still looking forward to the challenge.
“I won’t predict a state title for anyone, some of the times we’re up against are very impressive” said Nesmith. “I’m just looking forward to all of our guys running their best race. Going against tough competition can help you to elevate your game, and I just want to make sure everyone gives it their best effort.”
Also joining in from Region 3-A will be Claxton and Metter.
Claxton dominated field events, claiming both state qualifying spots in the discus (Chris Bellamy and Lorenzo Love) and pole vault (Logan Carpenter and Oscar Moreno) while Bellamy also qualified for the shot put.
Also attending the state meet for Claxton will be Tevin Valentine (400m) and Xavier Slater (110m high hurdles).
Metter also excelled in the field events, as both Dean Eason (long jump) and Rico Kelly (shot put) notched second place finishes at the region meet to earn a spot for the Tigers in Jefferson.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.