After a couple years off the 51st annual Statesboro Relays took place Saturday at Womack Field. The 2019 event was scrapped because of work being done to the track and last year’s event was canceled along with all other spring sports due to COVID.\
One of the longest running track meets in the state, the Statesboro Relays has featured some of the top athletes in the state from Herschel Waller to Sterling and Shannon Sharp. Some records that have held the test of time include Statesboro’s own Phillip Roselle with a 4:25 mile and a 9:35 3,200-meter run and Champ Bailey’s 6-7 high jump he put up before heading to UGA and later the NFL’s Denver Broncos.
From 1978-2000 coach Clark Collins was the Statesboro High head track coach. He led the Blue Devils to six championships in the Statesboro Relays and recalls some great competition.
“When I took over in 1978, I wanted to continue the tradition coach Ronnie Hodges started in 1967,” said Collins. “We had some great battles and great individual performances in those 22 years. Teams like Northside Warner Robins, Southwest DeKalb, Lownes and Hilton Head always provided great competition and got us ready for the region meet.”
Saturday didn’t see any records fall but saw some pretty good competition as 12 teams made the trip to Statesboro. Overall, on the girl’s side Brunswick and Effingham County tied for first with Statesboro placing third. For the boy’s South Effingham took top honors with Statesboro placing second and Calvary Day was third.
Among the individual local standouts top finishers included Kamron Mikell and Jordan Lovett battling it out in the 100 and 200 with Mikell winning the 100 and Lovett placing second while Lovett won the 200 and Mikell was second. Southeast Bulloch’s Avery Jaynes won the 800 and anchored the second place 4x800 meter relay team while Statesboro was first. Statesboro took the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Landon Young won the shot for Portal with SEB’s Jontavious Scott second and Waylon Knight was second in the discus. Southeast Bulloch’s James Hodges continues to break his own school record in the pole vault with a leap of 14’6’’.
For the host team it’s been a solid season particularly for the boys' team who have been placing among the tops in most of their meets this year.
“Covid has limited the boys a little but we have a lot of guys having great seasons,” said Statesboro coach Jerel Danzy. “Jordan Lovett and Kam Mikell have both really been pushing each other to great performances individually as well as in the relays.”
For the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets, it’s been a good season as well with the distance events and field events being the bright spots.
“We been very consistent in the long-distance events and field events,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Quin Latimer. “Avery Jaynes has helped lead us in the distance events and Enosh McMillan has come around lately in the 100 and 200 and he has helped us recently. Our times look really good in the region and it helped to see all the Savannah schools at the Plankenhorn Invitational last month.”
The Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch girls have both seen their numbers drop this year due in part to COVID related issues.
For the girl’s Antonia Prescott of Statesboro won the 100 while Kendra Payne won the 400 and was second in the 200. The Statesboro 4x100 relay team was first, and the Blue Devils were second in the 4x400 relay. Southeast Bulloch was second in the 4x800 relay and Statesboro’s Jania Joseph was runner up for high point individual honors as she won the high jump and the 100 hurdles and was second in the triple jump.
“Our girl’s numbers are down but those that are here are doing well,” said Danzy. “Kendra Payne and Jania Joseph are leading the way, but we have some younger girls who are stepping up as well.”
“We had some that didn’t come back due to COVID and being virtual students,” said coach Laurie Pitts. “It has been a rebuilding year, but we are proud of those like Samantha Yancey in the 3,200 and 1,600 and Bailey Evans in the pole vault that have been doing great.”
This year’s high point trophy was named in memory of Levon Jones who won the high point trophy in the Statesboro Relays in 1998. The girl’s high point winner was Brunswick’s Makaila Brown while Xavier Brantley of Montgomery County was the boy’s high point winner.