Beginning today, athletes from both Statesboro High and Southeast Bulloch will be in search of statewide glory as they travel to Jefferson for the Georgia High School Association track and field championships to be held over the next three days.
Statesboro’s girls dominated the competition in securing the Region 2-AAAA title last week and notched qualifying spots in nine different events in the state championships.
Leading the charge for the Lady Blue Devils is senior Raven Thomas, who was a one-woman wrecking crew at the region meet.
Thomas recorded first place finishes in every event she entered, taking the top spot in the 400-meter dash, the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump while also running a leg on the Devils’ region champion 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
Alisia Jenkins joined Thomas on the 4x100 team and also took first place honors with a dominating performance in the triple jump.
“We have a lot of talent on our team,” said SHS coach Rico Campbell. “With Raven and Alisia in the mix, I think there’s a chance that we could make a lot of noise at state. Our relay teams are great, too. I would expect for them to get to the finals this weekend.”
Heather Wasdin, Keiyonna Gusby and Shanice Walker join Thomas and Jenkins in qualifying for multiple events at the state championships.
The SHS boys were almost as good at region, falling just short of clinching back-to-back titles.
Taking the spotlight for the boys is Joseph Manier, who won the 300-meter hurdles and the 400-meter dash — in which he beat out fellow Devil Zaquavian Smith — before helping the 4x100 team to a second place showing and a spot in the state competition.
“Joseph is a great runner,” said Campbell. “He’s really progressed very well and I think that he has a great shot to contend for a state title in the 300 hurdles.”
Over at Southeast Bulloch, it was again the girls making headlines as the Lady Yellow Jackets took home the Region 3-AA title last weekend.
Breanna Gates leads the way for SEB, qualifying in the 100-meter dash and running in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relay races.
Dineshia Baker joins Gates on both relay teams and will also compete in the triple jump and the 400-meter dash.
Nyra Bird and Katie Nevil round out the Jackets’ 4x100 team and Bird joins Jerika Budget as the final two members of the 4x400 squad.
Philicia Batton will compete in the 100-meter hurdles and the high jump while Chelsea Oglesby will represent the Jackets in the shot put.
The SEB boys struggled a bit, finishing fourth overall at region, but still have a formidable lineup heading to Jefferson.
In the track events, Terrell Paulson will take on the best in the state in the 400-meter dash while Bodie Collins competes in the 300-meter hurdles.
Brothers David and Jamal Johnson swept both state qualifying spots in the Region 3-AA discus throw and David also earned a spot in the field for the shot put.
All field events, along with the 1600-meter run will take place today with the rest of the track preliminaries and finals occurring Friday and Saturday.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.