Celeania Rollerson winning the 300m hurdles at the Atlanta Games Invitational
Unsung Heroes Week 3: Return of the Juniors
Will Sumner has been on fire this past winter and continued his hot streak into the spring, running a new state-record time of 1:48.94 in the 800 at Woodstock this weekend. That performance is worthy of a headline, but it's important to keep in mind that there were many other exciting meets this past weekend. Each meet was chock full of fast times and high marks, and we'll take a sample of some of the best overlooked performances from the weekend. The Atlanta Games Invitational and Jerry Arnold Challenge both provided some tasty action and saw many athletes set new personal bests. One of the athletes on this list was at the same meet as Sumner, and he also set a huge personal best. This week, we are honoring juniors, who oftentimes use this season to cement themselves as top-tier athletes. Without further ado, here are this week's Unsung Heroes!
"Unsung Heroes" recognizes some great individual performances from this past week across the state of Georgia that might have flown under the radar or gone underappreciated. One "winner" or "honorable mention" is selected from each of three categories (sprints/hurdles, distance, and field events) for both boys and girls. Enjoy!
Celeania Rollerson, Heritage (Conyers)
46.22 in 300h at Atlanta Games Invitational, 1st
59.93 in 400m at Atlanta Games Invitational, 8th
46.93 in 300h at Patriots F.A.T., 1st
13.09 in 100m at Patriots F.A.T., 5th
This week, we kick off with a Heritage High junior who has made a major statement early this track season. Rollerson appears to have mainly run for a club team in the past few seasons, so she has been completely overlooked in the 6A crowd. However, she has run for Heritage in 2022, and run fast indeed. This weekend at the loaded Atlanta Games Invitational, Rollerson rolled over her competition in the 300-meter hurdles with a blazing fast time of 46.22 seconds. Even more impressively, she does not appear to have ever run the hurdles before this season, so she is just getting started. If she can run this quickly in her second ever 300m hurdles race, it will be scary to see how fast she can get by the season's end!
2:22.92 in 800m at 2022 Jerry Arnold Challenge, 2nd
5:17.60 in 1600m at 2022 Jerry Arnold Challenge, 6th
The Jerry Arnold Challenge brought some of the best track and field high schools in Georgia together this past weekend, with some real firepower in the distance events. Running against top-tier competition certainly helped Felton set some huge PRs on Saturday in both the 800- and 1600-meter runs. The Brookwood junior raced to a 2nd-place finish (out of 45 total runners) in the 800, and her 5:17 in the 1600 was her fastest time ever in that event by 13 seconds. She also finished as the highest-placed non-senior in both of those events. These are great results for Felton, who will look to improve on last year's 13th-place finish at the 7A state meet in the 800.
5' 4" in High Jump at Milton Showcase Invitational, 1st
9' 0" in Pole Vault at Milton Showcase Invitational, 5th
Although Versluis has competed in a variety of events over the years, she does one thing quite well: jump high. As a rare pole vaulter and high jumper, she certainly cleared the bar this past weekend at the Milton Showcase Invitational. Her pole vault was an impressive 9 feet high and set a season best mark by a foot. However, the Cambridge junior managed to overshadow that feat with a giant high jump of 5' 4". This ties her with seven other girls for the 4th-highest mark in Georgia so far this season, and it tied her personal best while giving her the victory against a very competitive field.
10.90 in 100m at Georgia HS Champions Challenge, 2nd
22.57 in 200m at Georgia HS Champions Challenge, 2nd
As a runner for Westminster back in the day, Cedar Grove was always our kryptonite due to the incredible amount of sprinting talent that is developed at that school, which led the boys' squad to four straight state titles from 2015 to 2018. Slaughter looks to help the Saints get back on top of the podium this year. After a fifth-place finish in region in both the 100m and 200m last year, Slaughter has improved drastically in both events. His 100-meter and 200-meter times now both rank in the top 7 in 3A, and they were good enough to finish a close second in both events at the Georgia HS Champions Challenge.
9:30.75 in 3200m at 2022 Jerry Arnold Challenge, 3rd
Mill Creek hosted the Jerry Arnold Challenge this past Saturday, and they certainly showed out in the 3200, sweeping the podium with the first three runners. Kalarickal had a very impressive cross country season, but he flew under the radar due to the rest of the War Eagles roster being so successful. In his first-ever 3200 in track season, Kalarickal raced to a 9:30.75, which is the same pace he was running the mile just one season ago. Alongside teammates Jacob Peters and Ethan Nordman, Mill Creek will look to have an unprecedented three scorers in the 3200 at the 7A state meet in May.
140' 4.5" in Discus Throw at Woodstock Wolverine Invitational, 1st
129' 3" in Discus Throw at Walton Tri-Meet, 1st
38' 3" in Shot Put at Walton Tri-Meet, 6th
Ferreira Reis has been throwing for Walton since his freshman season. However, he must have worked hard over the past offseason, as he came out slinging the discus much further this season than he ever has before. In his first meet of the season on Wednesday, Ferreira Reis tossed the discus nearly five feet further than his previous longest throw, as well as launching his shot 38 feet, which was his second-furthest throw ever. He followed that up with a great performance in the discus on Saturday at the Woodstock Wolverine Invitational, throwing over 140 feet against some high-caliber competition to leave him undefeated in that event in two meets this season.