By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
SEB girls win 10th annual Plankenhorn Invitational

    A Bulloch County track and field mainstay event held its 10th annual gathering as Southeast Bulloch hosted the Plankenhorn Invitational on Saturday in Brooklet.

    Named after Derrick Plankenhorn, the event serves to celebrate and remember the life of the former SEB runner who passed away in 2003 while competing for the Yellow Jackets.
    At times, the Plankenhorn Invitational has featured some of the widest fields in the state, drawing dozens of different schools from every classification over the years. Scheduling conflicts with many schools taking SAT’s meant that only seven squads filled the 2013 field, but the purpose of the event has never been about its size, but about its meaning.
    “I’m so glad that this has become a successful event that people look forward to each year,” SEB coach Jolie Britt said. “As a former teacher of Derrick’s, this is such a great way to celebrate his life and the sport that he loved.”
    The SEB girls continued their great start to the season, taking the overall competition with relative ease. The Lady Jackets scored 174.5 points — well ahead of second place Effingham County’s 132 points.
    As has been the story for the last few years, the Jackets’ sprinters stole the show. Katie Nevil, Jasmine Roberts, Laticia Fonseca and Breanna Gates combined to take first place in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay races.
    Gates went on to take the individual high point trophy for the competition as she also added first place finishes in the long jump, the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash. Philicia Batton added another trio of first place finishes, taking both the 100 meter and 300 meter hurdles and topping the field in the high jump.
    "I think that our girls have a good chance to accomplish some big things this season," Britt said. "This is the fourth year that we've had a big, main core of girls. They've done a good job of improving each season and hopefully this year we can take another step forward."
    The Southeast Bulloch boys finished in fourth place overall. Charles James’ pole vault of 10 feet earned him a first place showing while Preston Smith, Alex Viljoen and Ladarian Fonseca took second place in the triple jump, shot put and 400 meter dash, respectively.
    As has become tradition, Don and Billie Jean Plankenhorn — Derrick’s parents — were on hand to present awards to all of the event’s winners.
    “It means so much to us and to this event that they’re here every year,” Britt said. “It’s great to see the support that the community and that other schools have shown for this event and it means a lot that Don and Billie Jean come out here each year to watch all of the events.”
    As closely as the Plankenhorns and SEB track and field are wound together, it was great for the event to finally come back to its home in Brooklet.
    For the last two seasons, ongoing renovations to the athletic facilities at Southeast Bulloch prevented the Jackets from hosting the Plankenhorn on their home turf.
    The track at Georgia Southern was used in 2011 and Statesboro High stepped in to provide a home for the meet last season.
    With SEB's brand new facility now complete, the great competition — as well as the memory of its namesake — will have a permanent place to call home for as far as anyone can see.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.