Southeast Bulloch’s track team had plenty of surprises during the school’s region meet Monday and Tuesday.
The boys and girls track team finished second and third respectively in Region 1-AAA competition and sent several athletes to the sectional meet.
Despite the boys’ track team having strong athletes in the field events, it was the runners on the track that scored major points for SEB.
“Honestly, I was really shocked and proud of the way our guys competed in the running events,” SEB track coach Jeremy Gantt said. “I thought we would be strong in the field and we were going to have to be strong in the field to compete, but we really didn’t have our best day. The runners started and they just turned it on. Some of them had their best performances of the year.”
In the 1,600 meter event, Quinn Pitts had a bit of competition this year, finishing second in the event. He bounced back strong to take first place in the 3,200 meter event.
Ladarion Fonseca finished in fourth place in the 400 meter dash.
In the field, Southeast Bulloch’s Brandon Hill had a first place finish in the discus throw with a 126-04 throw.
Justin Todd and Barhon Carter had a one-two finish in the pole vault competition, while Cecil McCollum finished had a fourth place finish in the triple jump.
The biggest surprise for the Yellow Jackets, however, came in the form of freshman phenom Tyler Thornton. Due to a scheduling conflict with baseball season, Thornton is unable to practice with the track team on most days.
Regardless, none of it mattered as Thornton finished second overall in the 800-meter run.
“He’s a freshman and a star baseball player. He’s just a great athlete. He does not practice track. He goes to baseball practice and baseball games and if they don’t have baseball he gets to run the 800, which is not an easy race,” Gantt said. “It’s a very tough race and he came out and got second in the region. It’s amazing. He had a gutsy performance.”
Gantt said he was also pleased with Tyler Collin’s sixth place finish in the 400-meter dash, which gave the team three crucial points.
The girls’ track team had their fair share of surprises as well.
Pole vaulter Cierra Jordan broke the school record with a 9-02 vault.
Along with Jordan, freshman Aaliyah Sandifer helped lead the way in the field events with a solid performance in her discus throw. She finished in third place with a throw of 88-10. Sandifer also finished in third in the shot put.
With such a young team, SEB track coach Jolie Britt said it has been a challenge to prepare her athletes for competition, but overall, was pleased with their performances in the region meet.
“I think this team will only get stronger as we look into next year. We’re bringing back almost the entire team,” said Britt about her young squad. “Our girls did better than I expected and we have quite a few moving on to sectionals.”
Emma Britt had a tight race in the 100-meter hurdles, just edging her opponent with a time of 17.29. Britt finished first in the 100-meter hurdles, third in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump.
Hattie Pitts swept the 1,600-meter and 3,200 meter events.
“I was really pleased with Aaliyah Sandifer and Emma Britt. Britt did extremely well on the triple jump and hurdles. Cierra Jordan broke a pole-vaulting record and Hattie Pitts did an outstanding job,” Jolie Britt said. “A lot of our girls set PRs in the region, and as a coach, that’s what you want to see.
“I’d also like to thank coach [Mike] Sparks. He does a great job and does it because he loves Southeast Bulloch and the student athletes.”
SEB will host the sectional meet Saturday, April 30.