Unsung Heroes Week of Feb 18: The Track of My Tears

Michael Carrol winning the 300m hurdles at Westlake Early Bird

Unsung Heroes Week 1: The Track of My Tears

Just as the sun rises in the east every morning, new track and field seasons emerge out of the dark, shining bright with the possibilities of a limitless season. The track itself is now full of athletes enjoying a brand-new season, shaking off the rust accrued during the offseason. The sand pits, unused for most of the fall and winter, are disturbed once again by bounding jumpers, and the stands at many of the stadiums have just filled with spectators and competitors for the first time this season. And the real indicator that track season is in full swing is that the MileSplit home page fills up with several new articles every day. That means that it's time for the first Unsung Heroes of 2023! This week, the focus is on athletes who have come roaring into 2023 with victories in their first set of competitions, and especially on those who have improved substantially from last season. In addition, the crop of Unsung Heroes this week comes from the two largest and most competitive classifications in Georgia, 6A and 7A. Don't worry if you're from a smaller classification-your time is coming! Best of luck (and skill) to all athletes this season, and here's to a successful and healthy track and field season!

"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 is selected from each of five categories (sprints, hurdles, distance, jumps, and throwing events) for both boys and girls. Enjoy!

Girls Winners


Maddison Brister, Grovetown

         57.06 in 400m at The Ryan Clark Invitational, 1st

         25.51 in 200m at The Ryan Clark Invitational, 1st

         12.57 in 100m at The Ryan Clark Invitational, 1st

The MileSplit writers put in a lot of work writing the season previews for each classification. However, it's really just for fun in the end because there's no way of predicting the future. Maddison Brister is a great example of this. As an eighth grader last year, she seemed to be a 400/800 specialist, and she won third place at the Middle School State Championships in the 400. However, she showed at the Ryan Clark Invitational that she's a state-level threat at all of the events from the 100m to the 800m, ranking in the early-season top 10 in 6A in all four events. Brister and star jumper teammate Paris Ivery make Grovetown a contender almost by themselves, so the Warriors are a team to watch this year.


Hala Salame, Etowah

        49.15 in 300m hurdles at Allatoona All-Comers Meet, 1st

        16.39 in 100m hurdles at Allatoona All-Comers Meet, 1st

Salame, a senior at Etowah, has had an incredible trajectory in the hurdles so far in high school. After running decent but unspectacular times as a freshman and sophomore, she squeaked into the 7A state meet in the 100m hurdles last season as the 8th qualifier from her sectional. However, she really kicked things into another gear at the Allatoona All-Comers meet this season. She swept both hurdle events, setting personal bests in both. She also won both races by a substantial margin, so it will be exciting to see how fast she'll go when she's truly pushed.


Jewel Wells, Mill Creek

        11:29.9 in 3200m at Flowery Branch, Central Gwinnett, Lanier @ Mill Creek, 1st

Jewel Wells had a breakout XC campaign that should have attracted more attention than it did. She improved from a 109th-place state finish as a freshman to 21st as a sophomore. It seems she's carried this momentum straight into track season with a PR and first-place finish at the Mill Creek quad meet last Tuesday. Wells did not have much competition on the girls' side, but she pushed herself to a sub-11:30 finish regardless. For perspective, only 17 girls in 7A bested 11:30 during the entirety of last track season, so this is an outstanding time for February.  


Kijana Callwood, Grayson

         36' 10" in Shot Put at Grayson All-Comers #1, 1st

         37' 0" in Shot Put at Grayson Invitational, 2nd

         114' 2" in Discus Throw at Grayson Invitational, 2nd

We could have a rising star in the shot put and discus in 7A. At the Grayson Invitational, Kijana Callwood finished a close second to Archer's Christianne Akintayo in both throwing events. Akintayo finished second in the shot put at the Wingfoot Night of Champions last season, so Callwood finishing close behind in just her second-ever recorded meet on MileSplit is very impressive. Callwood did grab a victory at the Grayson All-Comers Meet #1 earlier in the week over a large field, so she's definitely the real deal.


Tleah Raven, Westlake

         5' 2" in High Jump at Westlake Early Bird All Comers, 1st 

Last season, as a sophomore, Tleah Raven jumped between 4' 4" and 4' 8" in the high jump in 11 straight competitions before region, where she set a personal best by four inches at 5' 0". Unfortunately, she barely missed out on a spot at sectionals by tiebreaks, finishing fifth. Raven has flown high to start her junior season, already besting that 5-foot barrier in her first meet. Her improvement will be very welcome for a Westlake squad that will be in the competition for a state championship.


Boys Winners



Maurice Gleaton, Langston Hughes

         10.93 in 100m at Jean Charles Panther Classic, 1st

All-Comers meets, by their very definition, are unpredictable because any team can show up, and entries can be all over the place. Sometimes, however, the meets end up unexpectedly competitive, and that was the case at the Jean Charles Panther Classic over the weekend. A clean 50 boys laced up in the 100m dash. The overall winner? Langston Hughes sophomore Maurice Gleaton, with the best race of his young career. He improved upon his best time from last season by 0.2 seconds and owns the second-fastest 100m time in 6A so far this season.


Michael Carrol, Campbell

         41.56 in 300m hurdles at Westlake Early Bird All Comers, 1st

         17.54 in 110m hurdles at Westlake Early Bird All Comers, 3rd

Last season, Carrol sampled a good variety of running events, but the 300 meter hurdles seemed to suit him best. He managed to qualify for the sectional meet after running a PR at region, but he needed to take another step forward (no pun intended) to truly compete with the best in 7A. Well, whatever offseason training Carrol did worked, as he broke 43 seconds and 42 seconds for the first time in the 300m hurdles in his first meet of the season! He also won that event in the meet easily.


Parker Chase, West Forsyth

         4:25.9 in 1600m at WFHS Weekday Meet #2, 1st

Juniors have stolen the show this first week, and Chase continues the trend. Much like Wells on the girls' side, Chase had a very good and underrated XC season. He has gotten off to a very speedy start in his track season, too. Chase has already raced in three different meets and three different events (800, 1600, 3200), and he's come away with three victories. Most recently, Chase outdueled teammate Diego Fernandes and Denmark star Ben Sydell for a big PR in the 1600.


Maddox West, Apalachee

         139' 8" in Discus Throw at Apalachee Time Trials, 1st

         36' 0" in Shot Put at Apalachee Time Trials, 5th

As a freshman, West had an incredible in-season turnaround in the discus, improving his PR by nearly 40 feet from start to finish. He showed that he was unafraid to compete in track events as well. His first competition this year came at the Apalachee Time Trials, where he topped teammate and last year's region champion Mason Griffiths. West's discus throw ranks third in 6A so far this season. To cap his meet off, West set a PR by over three feet in the shot put.


Tyler Traille, Archer

         12' 6" in Pole Vault at Archer Time Trial, 1st

         12' 0" in Pole Vault at Grayson Invitational, 1st

Pole vault has the (literally) highest barrier to entry of any event in track and field. Most athletes, even those who are good across multiple disciplines, will never even attempt a single vault. Traille, a senior at Archer, appears to have joined the track team just last season. In his first few meets, he bounced around the sprints and the high jump before deciding on the pole vault. His 9' 0" PR in 2022 was quite good, but it would have been difficult to predict an improvement by 3.5 feet already in February! Suddenly, Traille is a real contender to score at the 7A state meet, and he's undefeated after two meets this season.