The Southeast Bulloch girls took on 13 other track and field programs from around the state Saturday at Georgia Southern, and when all was said and done, the Lady Jackets were the proud owners of first place at the eighth annual Plankenhorn Invitational.
SEB notched a decisive victory over second place Bradwell Institute and received solid performances across the board from all team members.
“This team just works so hard,” said SEB coach Jolie Britt. “Throughout the day, they just kept plugging away. It’s easy to get tired at the end, but everyone was giving it just an incredible effort.”
One of those efforts bypassed anything seen in the history of Lady Jacket track and field.
The 4x100 relay team had already tied the school record earlier this season, but Saturday’s team of Jerrika Budgett, Breanna Gates, Nira Byrd and Jasmine Roberts set a new mark with a blistering time of 49.47 seconds.
“After tying the record earlier this season, I think we all knew that we were capable of breaking it,” said Britt. “It was an amazing run. All of our girls ran hard and nailed all of the exchanges.”
The SEB boys notched a sixth place finish out of 15 teams and were once again strong in the field events as David (first place) and Jamal (second) Johnson swept the top two spots in the shot put for the second consecutive meet.
“Those two are pretty reliable,” said SEB boys coach Jeremy Gantt. “The rest of the squad is improving as the year goes on, too. We’ve got some events that we’re consistently strong in. We just need to get some points in some other events to start moving up in team standings.”
As special as winning such a large meet is, the accomplishment carries even more of an honor for the Lady Jackets.
The Plankenhorn Invitational is named after Derrick Plankenhorn, an SEB track and field member who passed away February 19, 2003.
The meet was started the following spring to commemorate Plankenhorn’s life and love for track and field and has seen enormous support — both in the preparation work of SEB staff and Brooklet community members, and in the participation of dozens of different schools over the years.
“It really means something to us to be able to win this meet,” said Britt. “Derrick’s parents always come out to watch the event and they hand out the trophies each year. I love that we were able to win with them showing their support for the program.”
Now with a marquee meet title under its belt, the Lady Jackets set their sights on equally important dates that are quickly approaching.
“Hopefully, this will spur us on,” said Britt. “We’re going to the Westover Relays, which will be very good competition. Of course, it’s all leading up to region and state. That’s what we’re aiming for. That’s what we’ve been working for.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.
Burke County 103.5
Bradwell Institute 99.5
Effingham County 86
Southeast Bulloch 66
Screven County 43
McIntosh Acad. 32
Bryan County 17
South Effingham 11
Southeast Bulloch 136.5
Bradwell Institute 115
Bryan County 63.5
Burke County 60
Effingham County 53
St. Vincent's 36
Screven County 21
South Effingham 18
McIntosh Acad. 13
Montrese Kitchins, Burke 30
Tonya Chapman, Bradwell 30