Carlton showing he can win in any strategy at his region meet
The event Hub where we will have the live streams, meet previews, live results, photos, videos, interviews, and meet recaps of all 8 of the 2022 GHSA State Track and Field Championships. Check it out:
5A Meet Preview
This may be one of the most competitive meets of 2022. At first, Woodward looked to be in great shape to defend their title from 2021. However, it appears that star hurdler Olivia Powell did not run in region, which means she won't be able to compete at state. Now the title is completely up for grabs, with Maynard Jackson and Woodward projected to finish within a few points of each other and Stockbridge not too far behind. Maynard Jackson will do most of their damage with a dynamic duo of hurdlers Jessicka Woods and Jaci Wright, and their relays should bring home a pile of points as well. Woodward might be down, but they certainly aren't out, as mid-distance runner Kenyah Conner, jumper Peyton Funderburk, and sprinter Dillyn Green will look to make it two in a row for the War Eagles. Stockbridge, looking for its first-ever girls track state title, has a good mix of sprinters, throwers, and relays. As usual, the fourth spot will be hotly contested. Blessed Trinity leads the way with most of their projected points coming from the distance events. Banneker, Lithia Springs, Dutchtown, and Decatur are all within 7 projected points of each other.
Projected Team Results
Maynard Jackson: 69.5
Blessed Trinity: 51
Lithia Springs: 39
Unlike most of the other classifications, there isn't a single athlete who is expected to win or get top two in multiple sprinting events. In the 100, the top five athletes are within 0.15 seconds of each other, and everyone appears to be running their best at the end of the season. It will also be important for the team battle, as Woodward's Dillyn Green and Jackson's Kaseiana Meriweather are among the contenders. Jordyn Parker and Kirah Copeland are the top two in the 200m. In the 400, Madison Gardner of Banneker and Kenyah Conner of Woodward have both broken the 56-second mark this year, so that will be a great battle. Jessicka Woods will look to take full advantage of Olivia Powell's absence from the hurdles, as she is favored to win both events by a decent margin.
Kenyah Conner has a chance to pull off the relatively rare 400/800 double, but two other athletes are within a second of her 800 time. Blessed Trinity's Kelly Ann Sutterfield will look to put a stamp on her excellent high school career with victories in the 1600 and 3200, but Lottie Chappell (5:02 in 1600) and Gabriella Malerba (11:15 in 3200) won't go down easily.
In the throws, Zemaya Carson is the favorite in the shot put and is a serious contender in the discus throw as well. Jae'l Dunn and Daynejia Atkins, both of Stockbridge HS, will likely factor in both events as well. Woodward's Peyton Funderburk just won her sectional in the triple jump and long jump, and she will be a top contender in both events at state. Queens Adams had the best high jump PR heading into sectionals with a 5' 8" leap, but Zy Thompson matched that height at sectionals, besting Adams in the process. That will be an event to watch. In the triple jump, the top three athletes by PR (Zaili Gantt, Jaci Wright, and Funderburk) are all within three inches of each other, each won their respective region meets, and two won the sectional meets. Malahne Walker of Chapel Hill is the big favorite in the pole vault.
As is the case for most of these classifications, the 4x100 is very closely bunched, with Lithia Springs (47.45), Woodward (47.47), and Maynard Jackson (47.64) all contenders. The 4x100 and 4x200 will be very important for Maynard Jackson, as they are the favorites in the 4x200 by a full second. Banneker has the slight edge in season best for the 4x400 over Stockbridge. Meanwhile in the 4x800, Blessed Trinity will come in with the best season best by a decent margin, but Decatur and Chamblee just beat BT in that event at sectionals. All eyes will be on Woodward and Maynard Jackson in the 4x400, as they could easily be within a point or two of each other entering the final event of the meet, with whoever winning the 4x400 between the two winning the whole meet.
The top four teams in the 5A boys team battle have not won a title in the past five seasons. Southwest DeKalb won most recently in 2016, and they are the favorites this year, thanks to some excellent sprints and hurdles (Isaiah Taylor and Xzaviah Taylor should feature prominently). They also are taking full advantage of the 4x800 and 4x200 additions to the state track meet, as Southwest is projected to score an insane 38 points in the relays-first in the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400, and second in the 4x800. Starrs Mill and Eagle's Landing will be competitive for second place. Starrs Mill will likely have the lead going into the final day thanks to some likely scoring from all four jumping/vaulting events and both throws. Danarrion Ard and Alec Jackson will lead Eagle's Landing, and they give them a chance to have the top runner in every event from the 100 to the 800. Creekside and Dutchtown are deadlocked in our standings, and they will go head-to-head in many events as they aim to score as high as possible.
Projected Team Results
Southwest DeKalb: 86
Starrs Mill: 66
Eagle's Landing: 55.5
Blessed Trinity: 38
Danarrion Ard of Eagle's Landing will come in as the narrow favorite in the 100m and 200m. He'll have to battle Zion Ragins (10.55 in 100m) and Ali Dargan (21.47 in 200m) to pull of the double, though. The 400 has a chance to be epic, with four athletes bunched in the 48.00 -48.40 range. My prediction is one athlete will break 48 for the first time to win it all. Isaiah Taylor of SW DeKalb could win the double in the hurdle events, but Nasia Lee actually comes in with the best time in the 110h.
In a normal year, Alec Jackson would be the top 800-meter runner in GA with a PR of 1:51. He hasn't run many races this year, so he has the potential to improve on that time and potentially even challenge Will Sumner at some post-state races (especially since Sumner isn't running the 800 at state). William Carlton of Decatur comes in as the favorite in the 1600 and 3200, which is especially impressive considering he didn't qualify for state in either of those events last year.
Although there can only be one winner, the discus will feature two of the most deserving athletes in the state facing off against each other. Josh Dare (199' 0") and Seth Allen (198' 0") are two of the top 10 all-time best discus throwers in GA history, and they will face each other with a state championship on the line. Earlier in the season, Dare beat Allen by nearly five feet at Atlanta Games, but both athletes have improved tremendously since then. Dare is also the favorite in the shot put by over three full feet. In the high jump, 10 athletes have a PR within 3 inches of favorite Tito Alofe's best height of 6' 7". In the pole vault, Starrs Mill's David Bowers had a massive clearance of 14' 6" at region, but he'll have to defeat two other 14-footers to grab the championship. Marc Stampley (24' 2" in the long jump) and Dainsus Miller (48' 8.75" in the triple jump) are the favorites for the other jumping events.
As mentioned before, Southwest DeKalb will look to put separation on their competition in the relays. They rank first in the 4x100 (41.37), 4x200 (1:25.34), and 4x400 (3:14.33). The 4x200 and 4x400 times are head and shoulders above the competition. Dutchtown and Stockbridge should push Southwest in the 4x100. In the 4x800, Blessed Trinity and Southwest DeKalb come in as the two favorites on season PR, but they finished fifth and fourth at sectionals, respectively. Decatur or Chamblee could surprise and take the crown in that event.