Just two days after Southeast Bulloch swept their region championships in track and field, Bulloch Academy and Statesboro brought three more region titles to Bulloch County after both schools capped their region meets on Thursday.
BA’s boys and girls won the region 2-3A GISA title and Statesboro won the girls title in GHSA region 2-5A with the boys finishing third — making five region titles in track and field reside in Bulloch County from three separate classifications.
For BA the title is the boys second in a row, while the girls edged Pinewood 165-163 in the final point tally while outscoring 2016 champion Trinity-Dublin by 16 points in the process. 19 Lady Gators will go on to state after placing at least top four and another four took home gold medals.
Starring for BA was Ava Hiller, who won both the 100 and 300 hurdles enroute to scoring the fourth most points of any girl at the tournament. She’d place third as a member of both 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams as well to score 23 total points. Defending state champion Regan Ellis captured a second region shot put title with a 34 foot, three and a half inch toss while Keeli Hennon and Hannah Potter won pole vault and triple jump respectively.
“Hannah Potter was home sick on Monday and won her event Thursday,” said coach Barbara Conner. “That’s all you need to know about this team. We’re young and only getting better.”
Lily Hiller (high jump), Lauren Lanier (triple jump) and Kennedy Bass (100m) all finished second in their events while Mackenzie Crooms (400m), Megan Sikes (long jump) and Bass (200m) would all finish third. Conner attributes the ladies depth as a key part of the team’s winning formula.
“Lauren Lanier and Kennedy Bass came out of the blue,” Conner said. “We got big points from some young kids today that helped push us over the top.”
On the other hand, the boys had a much easier time taking the title home — winning the meet by 21.5 points over second place Trinity-Dublin (169 points). Five boys went home with gold medals while another 19 qualified to move on to state. Seth Brant, Alex Cauthen and Davis Childs finished as three of the top five scorers on the afternoon.
Cauthern won the 200m and finished the runner up in the 100 by less than 0.2 seconds. He’d pick up two more silver medals in the long jump and as a member of the 4x100 team, giving him 28 total points and the second most in the region. Brandt defended his region title in the 110 hurdles and will look to win back-to-back state titles next week.
Brandt would take home gold in the triple jump as well, followed up by the bronze in the 300 hurdles. Childs won the 400, finished as a runner up on the 4x100 relay team and took third in the 200. Wilson Joiner won the pole vault as well.
“The boys knew they’d have a challenge in front of them,” Conner said. “They got some big performances from the seniors to win it all again.”
Bulloch Academy will take a total of 43 athletes to the state meet in Albany, which will take place April 27-29 at Hugh Mills Stadium.
As for Statesboro, the girls came into Thursday down by seven to Ware County in the point total. But the girls would pick up wins in the 4x100, 4x400, 400 and 100 hurdles to help push them over the top for what is now their tenth region title in a row. It’s an accomplishment that can be easily overlooked because of baseball and soccer dominating the spring landscape, and coach Kaylee Coleman couldn’t be prouder.
“The girls went above and beyond than we could have ever asked for, some beating their personal records and placing higher than we expected,” Coleman said. “Our seniors really stepped up and lead the team today, and we also had several freshmen who helped pull in important points.”
Dayonna Henry led the pack with four gold medals in the triple jump, 400, 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays while adding a silver in the 200. No one in the county — boy or girl — can claim to have earned as many points as Henry did in a region championship meet. Henry will head to sectionals in all five events as well.
Iyana McKeever, Maggie Ponder, Jocelyn Woodson and Yana Lipsey made up the other parts of the relay teams alongside Henry. Mckeever won the long jump, placed 2nd in the 100m and 3rd in the 200m as well. Other event winners for the girls include Journey Kearns (high jump) and Ny’Shera Robinson (100 hurdles).
In total the Statesboro girls will send 14 individuals to sectionals alongside 12 boys. The Statesboro boys went into Thursday with a three point lead over Ware County, but New Hampstead made a strong charge to steal points from both sides and knocked Statesboro back to third. The Blue Devils were one point shy of second place.
“We knew going into today that the competition was going to be very close in the running events,” Coleman said. “Ware and Hampstead took important top four placements and pulled ahead of our boys in the final events.”
Only one Statesboro boy walked away with an individual title. Noah Caplinger won both the 800 and 1600m runs while placing third with the 4x400 relay team of Jaden Adams, James Badger and D’Juan Newton. Adams would finish 2nd in the 100m, 3rd in the 200m and 2nd in the 4x100 team alongside Badger, Duardrion Lipsey and Jonte Gantt.
Sectionals for Statesboro will be held on April 29 at Eagles Landing High School in McDonough, Ga. Full results for both meets can be found on ga.milesplit.com.