Chris Nelson will look to help South Forsyth win the team title 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 5A.
Boys Team Scores
|1||South Forsyth High School||81.5||21||12||0||22||2||24|
|2||Marietta High School||79||30||17||4||9||19||0|
|3||Carrollton High School||59.83||5||11||0||27||16||0|
|4||Mill Creek High School||54.03||11||18||3||5||10||6|
|7||Buford High School||31||0||9||1||4||17||0|
|8||Walton High School||23.5||0||11||0||0||0||12|
|9||West Forsyth High School||23||7||0||0||0||8||8|
|10||Parkview High School||19||0||0||10||0||9||0|
|12||Pebblebrook High School||18||0||0||0||12||6||0|
|12||Valdosta High School||18||0||0||6||0||2||10|
|14||Campbell High School||16||0||0||0||5||11||0|
|14||Grayson High School||16||0||0||5||2||9||0|
Sprints: Oh were we given a treat in last year's 100m finals as Dwight Phillips and Chris Nelson took each other to the wire in a photo finish with Phillips prevailing 10.43 to 10.45. Instant classic. Both return for this year with Nelson actually having the fastest overall time in an astounding 10.28 (albeit no wind reading... but still). As a freshman, Sidi Njie was 2nd at State 6A in the 200m, but now the move into 7A has Njie slated 2nd overall again behind - surprise, surprise - Chris Nelson who looks to defend. Another newcomer to 7A, Carrollton's Shavique Bascus, went 21.29 at Adidas Outdoor Nationals, so he obviously figures into the equation, too. Sidi Njie has almost a full second on the competition for returning 7A 400m runners as he won the 6A title in 46.41. Three others come in having broke 48 seconds in 2022 including Devin Clark, Jaylen Marsh, and Jaiden Patterson.
Distance: Oooooh this could be fun. Malachi Sanders vs. Chance Jones? Sanders won the 7A title while Jones won the 6A title. Both have broken 1:54 and are the easy on-paper favorites to take down the 2023 title. The 1600m looks like another slugfest at the top with Ben Bergey (2nd in 2022 in 4:14) vs. Jared Fortenberry (5th in 4:15). Steven McCartney and Luke Kalarickal could make it interesting, too. There are 16 total returners at sub-4:30. Bergey, Fortenberry, and Kalarickal headline the 3200m, too. Look out for 7A newcomer and XC State Champ Memphis Rich and another newcomer in Noah Martinson to threaten as well.
Hurdles: Returners Joshua Crum and Keonte Knight finished 2-3 at State in the 110m Hurdles in 2022 and are the top returners. Daniel James also returns and was 4th in the same race. Crum headlines the 300m Hurdle as the defending State Champion in 37.84 and will be closely followed by teammate Bryce Dopson.
Throws: The Shot Put seems pretty wide open with nobody returning over 54 feet yet 4 have chunked it over 49 feet. Nathan Efobi was 4th at State in 52-8.75. Aidan Banfield and Turner Bell have 50+ feet to their name. Max Herman was 2nd at State last year in the discus with a 157-7 toss. That's 10 feet north of the next returner by State comparison. Kristian Dawson has a 147-4 to his name which he did at Sectionals that year.
Jumps: The competition will celebrate with the top shelf stuff once Chris Nelson finally graduates. He's the best long jumper by distance returning at 25-0. With that said though, this is a DEEP event and could be the most star-studded contested event in all of 7A as, check this, ALL 8 scorers from last year's State Championships return! Defending champ Ryane Martin only has the 7th furthest jump among returners! There are 14 kids returning who have leaped over 22 feet. Crazy. Among those who have gone 23-0 or better (again, not even including the defending champion!) include Nelson of course, Deonte Cole, Isaiah Sanders, Joseph Alexander, Christian Langford, and Will Fredrick. The Triple Jump includes a 47-footer returning in 2022 bronze medalist Devin Dahunsi. KJ Bolden and Azwan Nembhard-Belcher add some new depth to the event as newcomers to 7A. The High Jump is just a crap shoot. There - I said it (again). It's so hard to predict, and this year is no different as 7 guys return who have gone 6-2 or better. Among them are 3 at 6-4 including Korbin Brown, Ifeanyichukwu Ezegbo, and Seth Childers . Finally, we have the pole vault. Connor McLain appears to be the favorite in the pole vault followed by Will Fredrick , and Andrew Peruski.
Team Outlook: While it's pretty hard to know for sure how things look from team standpoint now since A, it's early, and B, we can't really crunch relay times, we can see some trends developing. We know that Chris Nelson and Ben Bergey of South Forsyth provide their squad some stud power with some help in the throws in Nathan Efobi. We know that Marietta is dangerous across the board (namely Jared Fortenberry, Malachi Sanders, and Max Herman). Carrollton has some strength in both the sprints and the distance events, and how can we ever count out perennial team powerhouses like Westlake? With shaky stats from relay questions, the order in the virtual meet goes Marietta as the favorite and are closely followed by South Forsyth, Carrollton, Mill Creek, Westlake, and Brookwood.
Girls Team Scores
|3||Lowndes High School||67||2||30||6||5||23||1|
|5||Harrison High School||43||1||2||6||24||10||0|
|6||Carrollton High School||38.5||0||3||13||0||0||22|
|7||Peachtree Ridge High School||37||0||5||11||10||11||0|
|8||McEachern High School||35.5||20||0||0||0||15||0|
|10||Buford High School||25||18||7||0||0||0||0|
|11||Milton High School||24||3||0||0||19||2||0|
|15||West Forsyth High School||18||0||13||0||0||5||0|
Sprints: There are 5 returners under 12 seconds returning in the 100m, and we have a tie at the top in Ryan Davis and 7A newcomer Jasmine Harmon in 11.81. Davis was 3rd at State last year while Harmon decided to focus on the hurdles (which uh... she won... so...). Karsen Phillips, Anaya Fraser, and Salima Jabbie have also broken 12. Six ladies have broken 25 seconds in the 200m, and we see some familiar names on this list like Fraser and Davis. 3rd place finisher from 6A last year, Sydney Harris, also features here. Harris and Serena Tate top the 400m rankings as both have broken 55 seconds. Tate won the 7A State Championship last year while Harris was runner-up in 6A. With Harris moving up to 7A, this gives the upper echelon of 7A long sprinters someone to lose some sleep over this season.
Distance: Fun fact: 7 of the 8 finalists in the girls' 800m 7A finals last year were seniors. The only junior? Champion Sydney Augmon. She features as the heavy favorite entering this season. The likes of Macy Felton, Ella Grace Malcom, Kendall Johnson , and Yolanda Brooks will have their work cut out for them. There are 8 returners who have broken 5:10 in the girls' 1600m, but the stud of the field is easily Samantha McGarity who clocked a 4:57 to win the 7A State Championship last year. Lexi Pavese , Reese Terza, Farrah Frith, Daniela Delgado, Maddie Jones , and the aforementioned Felton will do what they can, but McGarity could be out of reach. McGarity also won the 3200m State Championship with a 10:46. Frith and Carmel Yonas are the closest ones at this point.
Hurdles: If Jasmine Harmon could do 6 events, she could probably contend for the win in all 6. The 7A newcomer, Texas A&M commit, defending 6A State Champion, AND defending New Balance Outdoor National Champion is the heavy favorite in the 100m hurdles. Last year's 7A runner up was then-freshman Zoe Ziglor, and Kalani Witherspoon joins Harmon in the 7A ranks. Harmon's teammate Jaden Billings will look to make a big splash, too, as she's the only other one in the field with a sub-15 to her name. Harmon enters also as the 300m hurdle favorite (surprise, surprise). Peachtree Ridge's Ron-Niah Wright, Kaedron Thomas, and Witherspoon have all broken 45 seconds and will look to keep pace.
Throws: Luckily for Christianne Akintayo, several top returners from last year's State Meet dropped down a classification, so her path to the championship got a little easier. The 7A runner-up from last year is a good 3 feet clear of the next competitor, but that doesn't mean Jayla Gilbert, Zoie Johnson, and Noelle Igberaese will make it easy for her. Igberaese won the 6A State Championship last year at 129-10 and chucked it over 135 feet at Sectionals. Based on her MileSplit profile, Kameryn Hannon has been a thrower since birth so we have to assume she will be a big threat. The aforementioned Johnson, Gilbert, and Akintayo round out the projected top 5.
Jumps: Sheesh. Brookwood just keeps loading up in the jumps year after year. They've got 3 of the projected top 4 in Chloe Perryman, Jasmine Johnson, and Elle Bass. Perryman was last year's runner-up and will be looking for that State championship. The lone non-Bronco in the top 4, Caylie Jefferson, looks to be the biggest threat to Perryman. In the triple jump, 2022 champion Kaylan McConnehead returns along with teammate My'Asia Howard, Adrianna Pelham and Madison Aiken. Like I said before, the High Jump is so hard to predict, but there's some strong talent here. Danah Nembhard was 3rd at 6A State last year and is the top returner at 5-8. The Lowndes duo of Ariyah Davis and Trinity Hunter went 1-2 last year at 7A State though, so we can't pretend they won't be a threat.
Team Outlook: Lowndes and Brookwood look super dangerous on the girls' side as both are absolutely loaded in the jumps. Westlake is loaded in the hurdles and sprints thanks to Jasmine Harmon, so it's just a matter of how they decide to spread out her points. Based on the virtual meet, Westlake as the narrow edge over Brookwood and Lowndes. Hillgrove isn't far off either, but then there's a pretty sizeable gap to 5th place. These teams all have varying levels of strength across the board, but interestingly, no team projected to score in the top 7 places is expected (on paper) to get any points from the throws... could that be a difference maker? Or, could a team like Dacula, a perennial powerhouse in the throws, find some points elsewhere to sneak onto the podium?