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SEB hosts 15th annual Plankenhorn Invitational
Statesboro High's Jeremiah O'Neal, center, makes a final push to win the first heat of the 4x100 relay during Friday's Plankenhorn Invitational track and field meet at Southeast Bulloch High.

A total of 13 schools sent their boys and girls track and field squads to Southeast Bulloch High School Friday afternoon for the 15th annual Derrick Plankenhorn Invitational.

The event is contested each spring in honor of Plankenhorn, a Southeast Bulloch runner who passed away during a team practice in 2003. Beginning the following year, the invitational has routinely featured one of the largest and most talented fields of any meet in the area.

“It’s really something special to be a part of,” SEB coach John Roddy said. “It’s great to see the support for our team and know that other schools want to come. The best part is that Derrick’s parents continue to be a part of this event, handing out the trophies each season.”

While the Yellow Jackets have won their event on plenty of occasions, this year’s squads are very young and still settling into competition.

“Sometimes the young kids worry too much about beating the person next to them,” Roddy said. “You have to focus on bettering your own effort every day at practice or in a meet. I like the excitement and the attitude that we’re showing and it has resulted in improvement.”

Some SEB veterans were responsible for some of the better showings of the day for the Jackets. Hattie Pitts finished second in the 3,200 meters and fifth in the 1,600. On the boys side, Travion Johnson recorded a fourth place finish in the 400 meters and was ninth in the 200.

Statesboro had a very strong showing to help represent the county.

Noah Kiplinger (800 meters) and Jocelyn Woodson (400 meters) each won events with plenty of other top 5 finishes sprinkled in. The Lady Devils also finished second in the team competition.