2023 Boys and Girls Georgia 3A Track & Field Season Preview

Isis Symone Grant is coming back for one last attempt at greatness this year.

This week we're going to preview the upcoming track and field seasons for each GHSA Classification. We've got the boys and girls projected team scores and season previews below for class 3A.

Note - The relay team scores are based on last year's performances, so they could vary from what is listed. For a breakdown of the individuals, check out the returners rankings for BOYS and GIRLS

Trying to predict in early February who will win a state meet in May is a fools' errand; it's difficult enough to try to predict the meet after the sectionals have been completed! That will not stop us at MileSplit from trying, though. I am primarily using last season's times as predictors, as not enough athletes compete in indoor meets to make any judgments. It's expected that these predictions will be at least a little wrong by the end of the season, but hopefully this article will give a solid overview of the general trends and favorites to follow throughout the season. Good luck to all you athletes!

Boys Team Scores

1Sandy Creek44.5
2Liberty County37
3Hart County36
4Cedar Grove35
5Morgan County HS34
6G.W. Carver, Columbus32
6Monroe Comprehensive High School32
6Oconee County High School32
9Savannah Country Day School27
11Frederick Douglass25.25
12Crisp Co.25
12Jackson HS25
14Savannah Christian Prep24.5
15Carver, Atlanta20

The 3A boys' meet, as it stands now, is set up to be one of the closest competitions in the whole state. In a virtual meet based on last year's marks, the top eight teams are projected to score within 13 points of each other. Many of these teams have not ever won a boys' track title, and several more last won a title more than a decade ago, so expect these teams to really gun for it in May.

The first team to discuss among the 3A boys' contenders is Sandy Creek, who last won a boys' state track meet in 2015. Sandy Creek could score points in a wide variety of events. John Hopson has the top returning PR in the high jump with a mark of 6' 6". Two of his teammates, Karlston Davis and Blake Davis, could score points in the jumps as well. Hurdler Dalen Penson finished second for the Patriots in the 110m hurdles last year, and he will be a top contender for that event again next year. In addition, Sandy Creek should continue to be excellent in the relays, as they have quick athletes in events from the 100m to the 800m.

Liberty County is aiming for their first-ever track state championship (boys or girls) this year. They will be led by James Summerset, who is one of 3A's top returners in both the 100 and 200. Jamar Joseph was on track to being a state finalist in both hurdle events last year as a sophomore, but he missed the state meet. He could be a major factor at state for the Panthers as well. Markel Adside competed well at state in the 400 and triple jump last year. Combined with some likely strong relays and throws, and Liberty County will be difficult to stop.

Hart County came the closest of all these teams to winning the state meet last year as they finished just 11 points back of 3A champion Westminster. They will be very strong in the throwing events with junior Trez Fouch (discus) and senior Derrick Clarke (shot put) ranking among the top two returners by PR from last year. Pole vault, hurdles, and the 4x800 all could be opportunities for Hart County to score points in this year as well.

Cedar Grove is the most recent of these teams to win a state championship (an amazing four-peat from 2015-18), and they could win again thanks to an amazing group of jumpers, including Barry Jackson and Jeremiah Stallworth. Joseph Slaughter impressed in the 100/200 last year as a sophomore, and Jayln Slaughter could score in both throwing events.

Finally, though they didn't score too high based on last year's times, Oconee County could absolutely take home their first-ever boys' track & field championship. Based on their XC seasons, Aaron Brodrick, Patterson Graham, and Cooper Timberman will be hard to stop in the 800, 1600, and/or 3200 (depending on which events they run), and Oconee County will be the favorites in the 4x800 as well. In a crowded field with no clear favorites, could a team win by only scoring points in four or five events? We might find out this May!

Other athletes to keep an eye on this season for 3A boys: Jamari McIvory of Savannah Christian won the 1A Private state meet in the 400m with a very speedy time of 48.49, and he's still only a junior. In the hurdles, Morgan County's Josh Jones comes in as this year's top returner in both the 110m and the 300m. John Ryan of Savannah Country Day matched up well with the Oconee County runners in XC and should be eager to better his PRs in the 800 (1:54) and 1600 (4:26). Okemus Grier of Jackson HS owns a mark of 45' 8" in the triple jump, over 18 inches better than any other athlete in 3A. Samari Dowdy of Johnson-Savannah was runner-up at 3A state in the 100m last year, and he owns a top-two time in the 100m and 200m among the returners this year.

Girls Team Scores

1Sandy Creek113.5
2Wesleyan School57
3Oconee County High School53.5
4Hebron Christian44
5Monroe Comprehensive High School42
6Savannah Christian Prep40
7Monroe Area High School36
8Hart County31.5
9Mary Persons29
10Franklin County High School25
10Pickens County25
10White County High School25
13Bremen High School23
14Columbus High School22.5
15Carver, Atlanta19

Like the boys' side, none of the top contenders for the 3A girls' state title have won recently. Unlike the 3A boys' meet, there is a clear favorite. That team is Sandy Creek, who have come agonizingly close to winning the past few years, but they will look to get over the hump in 2023. The Patriots finished third (somehow) with 107 points in 2021, and they were second last year with 71 points. This year, Sandy Creek has the firepower and depth to potentially overwhelm the competition if everyone stays healthy.

Coming off of a first-place finish in the 400 and a narrow second in the 800 in 2022, senior Isis Symone Grant leads Sandy Creek as she looks to bring home two wins at state this year. The same could be said for junior Bobbi Olive, who comes in with the top returning PR in the 100 and 200. Noelle Boyd is a threat to score 5+ points in both hurdle events, and Janae Walker is in the same position in the throws. Ryan Lewis is the defending state runner-up in the triple jump as well. Add it all up, and the Patriots have a good chance to score in every individual event except the 1600, 3200, and pole vault.

Another team that will certainly be aiming for the top of the podium this season is Wesleyan, who bring most of their firepower in the distance events. I'm not sure I have ever seen as much depth in any events as Wesleyan has in the 800, 1600, or 3200. Using last year's times as a projection, Wesleyan has six of the top 14 returning 800 times, seven of the top 16 returning 1600 times, and four of the top 11 returning 3200 times. Anne McSweeney leads the way for the Wolves in the 800, followed by Julie Anne Bush and Kate O'Shields. In the 1600, Bush, McSweeney, and Ansley Voss have the top times. Eva Murphy, Voss, and Abigail Glover will all be favored to score points in the 3200. Wesleyan's 4x800 should be heavily favored as well, but they will likely need help from some other events if they want to take down Sandy Creek.

Oconee County will try follow a similar script to Wesleyan this track season as well. Molly Meeks has the top returning time in 3A for the 1600 and 3200, and it will be a huge boost for the Warriors if she can top all of the Wesleyan runners in those events. Emma Champer, coming off of a great senior XC campaign, should be in the mix as well. Oconee does have more balance with Ava Moon as a projected scorer in the 100m hurdles and the pole vault. Madison Hawkins is another multi-event athlete in the hurdles and long jump. If the season progresses in Oconee County's favor, they could be surprise winners for their first girls' track title in 30 years.

Also competing for a team podium spot include Hebron Christian, Savannah Christian, and Monroe Comprehensive. Hebron has the most opportunities for scoring points, as they have an athlete or relay ranked in the top 20 in 16 out of 17 events based on last year's marks. Libby Jackson is one of the state's top pole vaulters, and Kayla Lane will attempt to score high in both throwing events. Savannah Christian is more driven by individuals. Junior Jadyn Singleton is certainly an athlete to watch, as she ranks as a top-two returner in three events: 100m, 200, and long jump. Defending 1A Private state champ Maggie Byrd will be a favorite in the high jump again as well. Finally, Marianna Wright will lead Monroe Comprehensive in their quest for the state title. Wright finished first in the 300m hurdles and second in the open 400m last year as just a freshman, and she'll likely be a favor in the relays as well.

Other athletes to keep an eye on this season for 3A girls: Gilmer's Taylor McCormick won the 3A state meet in the high jump last year and will look to defend her crown against the aforementioned Byrd and White County's Maci Shelnut, who finished second on tiebreaks to McCormick last year. Hart County's Amelia Johnson topped 12 feet in the pole vault eight separate times last year, and she's already jumped 12' 0.5" in an indoor meet in December. Another Hart County athlete, Valasha Carter, finished in the top 6 in both the long jump and triple jump at state last year, and she will look to leap past her competition in her senior year. Last but certainly not least, three athletes come into the season with a PR within 5 inches of the 3A lead in the discus: Franklin County's Saniya Heard (120' 5"), White County's Kendra Dye (120' 0"), and the defending 1A Public state champion, Gordon Lee's Madolynn Loyd (120' 0").