3A State Meet Recap: Westminster Also Gets The Sweep

The 3A boys 1600 was a classic between Matthew Fernando and Alex Arrambide. Watch that final 100m!

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(Coverage continues to be updated, race videos will be uploaded all week!)

3A State Meet Recap

Girls - Westminster Dominates

The Westminster girls last won a track and field state title in 2013, back when they were in 2A and GHSA was one year removed from only having five classifications. Nine years later, the Wildcats are back on top after a dominant performance saw their 137 points equal the amount of points scored by the second and third place teams (71 by Sandy Creek, 66 by GAC). Westminster had multiple scorers in seven individual events and at least one scorer in 14 of 18 events overall. Super sophomore Grace Smith led the way, finishing first in the 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles, as well as second in the long jump and 100 meters. Her 36 individual points would have put her in sixth place as a team! Kelsey Chambers finished third in the 100 hurdles and high jump, second in the triple jump, and fourth in the long jump. Performing in four individual events means an athlete is not eligible for any relays, but Westminster managed to gather seventh in the 4x200 and third in the 4x400 without either Chambers or Smith. In addition, Palmer Walstad captured the 1600 title in a thrilling race and secured runner-up in the 3200, while also helping lead Westminster to a massive victory in the 4x800.

Sandy Creek edged out Greater Atlanta Christian for second place in 3A. Isis Symone Grant won the 400 and was second in the 800 and Chelsea Davis swept the long jump and triple jump. The Lady Patriots also topped the field in the 4x400 and broke 4:00 in the process. However, it was not enough to approach Westminster's point haul, meaning that Sandy Creek will have to wait at least one more year for their first girls state title. The good news for them is that Westminster and GAC are moving up in classifications next year, while Sandy Creek is staying put in 3A.

GAC was coming off of an incredible stretch of four titles in five years, but they were unable to capture the same magic this year. However, they still had a very respectable third place finish with 66 points. Nia Wilson won the sprint double (100/200) with some amazing marks of 11.66 in the 100 and 24.03 in the 200. Alana Thomas and Autumn Clark both finished in the top three of the shot put and discus throw. The GAC girls' 4x100 also finished second.

Hart County finished in fourth with the help of pole vaulter Amelia Johnson and sprinter Adriunna Earl. Savannah Arts Academy was edged out for fourth by Hart County, but still scored a very respectable 40 points. Oconee County, Appling County, and North Hall all finished within two points of each other for sixth through eighth. 

Performance of the meet

Lyric Olson, Savannah Arts Academy: 2:11.17 in 800m

Before the state meet, Sandy Creek's Isis Symone Grant appeared to be in a class by herself in the 800 (after teammate Gabriella Grissom had her season end prematurely) with a PR of 2:10.13 and a season best of 2:11.84. After Grant finished four seconds ahead of anyone in the prelims, it was easy to write off Grant's 800 as a done deal-but then Olson came out of nowhere, and with a monster kick to boot, to win the finals in the second fastest time run in Georgia this year. Olson's 2:11.17 was her fastest time of the season by six seconds, and her fastest time since mid-April by ten seconds! Her run would have won her the state championship in any classification (and by the way, Grant's 800 time was the second-fastest of any classification at state as well). 

Boys - Westminster Survives

In the 3A boys state meet preview, I wrote that Westminster should not have much trouble winning state. However, Hart County took their absolute best shot at the title this past weekend, and this meet is exactly why predictions are only exactly that. Westminster ended up pulling out the victory by 11 points for their second consecutive track and field state title. As expected, distance running played a large role in the Wildcats' victory. Matthew Fernando edged out Alex Arrambide for the 800 and 1600 titles, and Jack Ramsey placed third in both events. Westminster also went 3-4-7 in the 3200 with Joseph Jacquot, Esfan Daya, and Noah Chen scoring a combined 13 points in that event. Thrower Phillips Moore capped off an excellent season by placing a close second in both the shot put and the discus. 400-meter runner William Gituku was the state runner-up as well. Westminster's relays carried them home with a first-place finish in the 4x800 and a third-place finish in the 4x400. 

Hart County was predicted to only score 55.5 points in the state preview, but easily surpassed that total to put a real scare into the Westminster boys. JC Curry was an all-star for the Dogs, as he placed first in the long jump and triple jump, as well as second in the high jump. Kanye Fouch won the discus throw with a fantastic performance of 163' 9". Zachary Benner scored second in the 3200 and sixth in the 1600, and he and two 800-meter finalists helped Hart County to a second-place 4x800 finish. Because Hart County scored in so many field events, Westminster was playing catch-up until the 3200, the next-to-last event of the meet. The Dogs were much closer to first place than to third, where there was even more drama.

Southeast Bulloch and Crisp County tied for third at 36 points apiece. SE Bulloch was led by sprinter Curtis Coleman (5th in 100, 2nd in 200), pole vaulter James Hodges (2nd place), hurdler Tradon McBride (4th in 110h, 8th in 300h), and a state-champion 4x200 team. For Crisp County, sprinter Jayce Gray led the way with a double-dub in the 100 and 200, and he also helped lead the 4x100 team to victory. Heading into the 200-meter final, Crisp County trailed Southeast Bulloch by eight points, but Gray and fellow sprinter Jaylin Smith scored exactly eight more points combined than Southeast Bulloch's Coleman. In the next event, the 3200 meters, three Southeast Bulloch athletes participated compared to one for Crisp County, but none of them scored a point, and neither squad had a 4x400 team make the final, making it a tie for third. East Forsyth and Appling County tied for fifth with 31, followed by Cedar Grove and Windsor Forest. 

Performance of the meet

Keylan Rutledge, Franklin County: 53' 4" in Shot Put

There were many good options to choose from, from Matthew Fernando's 4:11.61 in the 1600 to Josh Jones's completion of a perfect season in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. However, one of the most surprisingly impressive performances across any of the state meets was Keylan Rutledge's shot put. Rutledge spent the first several months of the season as someone who appeared to max out in the mid-40s for the shot put, with a PR of 47' 8" as late as region this spring. However, he found a different gear when the postseason began and tossed his first 50-footer at region and followed that up with another PR at sectionals. At the state meet, Rutledge managed to beat his previous PR in four out of his six attempts. In his final throw, Rutledge needed a 53' 4" to beat Westminster's Phillips Moore and he threw a ... 53' 4", his best-ever throw, which tied Moore and gave Rutledge the victory on tiebreaks

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