Meet Preview: 2023 Gwinnett County Championships

Dallas Guy won the 100m hurdles last week, can she win again?

2023 Gwinnett County Track & Field Championships Preview

FOREWORD:  Nearly 1,000 entries have been tabulated for the 2023 edition of the Gwinnett County Varsity Championships in track and field, a historic measuring stick as teams have crested the halfway point of the season and coaches pray their kids will A, stay healthy, and B, refrain from sitting in beach chairs all Spring Break.  As normal, the meet looks to be super competitive as teams try to put their best foot forward, so let's get to it.  I'll do this event-by-event; then, we'll dive into the team picture.



Girls:  Thus far, 4 girls have logged sub 12.3 performances, and 2 of them are from Archer in Samiya Wayne and Kyndall Sessom.  Wayne has a pretty lengthy Club Track resume and has continually improved for Archer as Outdoor has gotten underway while Sessom was set to make some big noise at the State level last year but faltered.  The Shiloh transfer will now look to improve upon her 3rd place finish from last year and is the top returner based on entries.  With all of that said, Janai Jones of Brookwood comes in at #1 fresh off Adidas Indoor Nationals and victories in her first 2 Outdoor races.

Boys:  A host of sub-11 Outdoor performances have already been logged for the boys thus far.  Leading the pack is a duo of sub 10.8 guys in Devin Williams of Buford and Chad Alexander of Archer.  Williams opened up the season at 10.7 and will look to rediscover that magic.  Alexander was 4th at Gail Devers and won the Tiger Relays, so he could be primed for a strong performance, too.  It should be noted that Buford actually features 3 of the top 4 guys in this event - Williams, Jeremiah Colbert, and Osiris Gilbert.


Girls:  Lailah Green of Discovery has logged the strongest 200m of the season thus far with a 24.37, good enough for 3rd at the MTFXCCCGA Invite.  Daylin Gibson (Peachtree Ridge) was 7th last year at the County Championships and looks to improve upon that mark this year.  Her 24.53 was a huge jump for the season and was good enough for 2nd at the AJ Terrell Invite.  Sydney Harris (Buford) and reigning 400m State Champion Serena Tate (Brookwood) offer a good bit of depth in this event.

Boys:  A trio of sub-22s feature here as Brady Daniels (Grayson), the aforementioned Devin Williams (Buford), and his teammate Ervin Pearson all look to do battle.  Daniels won the Eagle Icebreaker to open up the season while Williams was 2nd behind Daniels in the same event.  Pearson has looked strong in both the 200 and 400 and could be a major threat as he rounds to form at the right time.


Girls:  This could be a keynote event at the 2023 Gwinnett County Track & Field Championships.  The top 3 seeds all have a list of accomplishments to their name, so as long as all can progress through the prelims unscathed, this could be amazing.  Sydney Harris (Buford) finished 3rd overall at New Balance Indoor Nationals in 54.6 and was 2nd at State in the event last year.  Lailah Green (Discovery) won both Brooks PR and AAU Junior Olympics last year and boasts a career PR of 54.54.  Serena Tate (Brookwood), as I already mentioned, is the reigning 400m State champ and has the fastest career PR of the trio at 54.14.  Any of these 3 could take this event.  Pay close attention to this one come finals day (Monday).

Boys:  5 boys enter with sub-50s performance during Outdoor thus far, led by Brady Daniels (Grayson) getting his 2nd mention in the preview.  His 48.35 is nearly a full second clear of his closest competitors in Christopher Coleman (South Gwinnett), Zavier Davis (Discovery), Ervin Pearson (Buford), and Methias Carter (Mountain View).  It should be noted that Pearson and Daniels finished 2nd and 3rd last year, so both will be seeking a gold medal in the 2023 campaign.



Girls:  4 girls come in with 2:27 or faster to their name, and the pack is led by a couple of 2:21 girls in Alexis Wright (Lanier) and Allie Wardle (Brookwood).  Wright appears to be a relative newcomer to the event having done more of the short sprints earlier in her career but is thus far undefeated in 4 800m attempts this season.  Wardle is a pretty big name in both XC and Track and is still looking for that keynote individual victory in a large invite. Sydney Augmon (Peachtree Ridge) is the reigning 800m State Champion and only lost the County title last year by .01, so you know she's going to be ready for war.  And then there's Macy Felton who was 3rd at County last year in 2:17 which ended up her best race of the season.  She could be the wild card entry this year.

Boys:  Sub-2:00 is always a nice threshold for boys aiming to be among the elite to cross.  7 entries this year thus far have broken 2:00.  Conner Robbins (Archer) has the quickest feet thus far at 1:57.29 and was 5th at State last year.  Chance Jones (Dacula) has the fastest career PR of the crew at 1:53 which was good enough for the W at 6A State last year; he's also the defending County champion in the event.  Moses Mitchell hasn't done much with the event yet this year, but he did go 1:57 at State last year in the prelims, so he's definitely a threat.  Other threats include Owynn Brown (Grayson), Corey Harris (Shiloh), David Garcia (Parkview), and Marshall Bray (Brookwood).


Girls:  Macy Felton (Brookwood) has broken 5:20 twice so far this year, is undefeated in the event in 2023, and won last year's County title in the 1600m.  She enters in good form and could be the favorite for this year.  Her teammate Allie Wardle has run faster this season though as she went 5:14 at Gail Devers.  These 2 could be slugging it out for The Dub.  But, there's a newcomer to the fold lurking in the background, and that's Mill Creek's Jewel Wells.  The sophomore has ranged from 5:18-5:22 across 3 races in the event this year which is not far off at all from what she'd need to contend in this event.  Others worth mentioning include Alitza Dennard (Peachtree Ridge), Haley Primm (Parkview), and Emily Cragin (Archer).

Boys:  The boys' race may not be quite as top heavy, but it offers as much or more depth.  Steven McCartney, perhaps among the most exciting runners to watch in the entire meet, enters with a season-best 4:22 (which he's done twice this season) to sit atop our list.  We then have a Collins Hill Senior/Freshman duo in Marc Petrucci and Jameson Pifer who will look to challenge McCartney for the win.  While only a freshman, Pifer has been at it for a while and has as much or more experience than many in this field and is a big a threat as any.  Teammate Petrucci has been in or near the elite for a couple years now and was 6th at County last year.  Luke Kalarickal (Mill Creek) hasn't yet been able to discover the magic, but County is as good a race as any for him to do so.  He was runner-up in 2022.  Crosstown rivals Charlie Thomas (Brookwood) and David Garcia (Parkview) had a nice duel as anchor legs for their respective teams and will look to do battle again on Saturday. ***Interesting to note:  the 4x800m is contested about 2 ½ hrs before the 1600m, and it seems most of the top guys in this field will be coming off the 4x8.  Will some coaches elect to hold their studs out of the 4x8, or will everyone be coming in with some tired legs?  Something to consider...


Girls:  Jewel Wells (Mill Creek) has the fastest time of the season by 30 seconds at 11:19, so on paper, she's the easy favorite; however, a surprise entry in Brookwood's Allie Wardle makes things quite interesting as she's now entered in all 3 open distance events.  With a team title on the line, are they going all in with their stud?  Curious how it plays out.  Archer's Emily Cragin, Peachtree Ridge's Alitza Dennard, Norcross's Emily Rodriguez and Elkin Regina, and the 2021 3200m champ Haley Primm (Parkview) will all look to mix it up at the top as well.

Boys:  It could be another battle of senior vs. freshman in the 3200m as Steven McCartney (Archer) and Jameson Pifer (Collins Hill) enter as the top 2 seeds.  Add Mill Creek's Luke Kalarickal into the fold, and this could be pretty exciting.  We've also got some newer faces added in Greater Atlanta Christian's Addison Alsobrook and Shiloh's Mintasinot Zawudie who will be striving to ink their names among the County elite.  It's another deep event with 12 kids sub-10:20.



Girls:  We have 2 girls who have broken 15 seconds thus far, and they are Jaci Wright (Buford) and Dallas Guy (Dacula).  Wright has raced the event 5 times already during Outdoor and is a perfect 5-0.  Guy also has 5 victories in the event, going 5-1 so far, so this could be a really fun battle to behold.  Hiding in the shades though is Mill Creek's Amarachi Chukwu who, at 15.12, is no slouch and made it to the semifinals at New Balance Indoor Nationals.

Boys:  This event could be another 'keynote' event as there is a strong level of depth.  9 guys have gone under 15.2 meaning someone super talented is going to be left behind.  At the top though are Shiloh teammates George Benjamin and Bryce Southerland who have gone an eye-blinking 14.00 and 14.01 which are 11th and 13th in the United States currently.  Southerland was 2nd at State 6A and Benjamin was 6th, so both could be eyeballing County as an opportunity for more big invitational experience.  But alas, there's more.  Grayson's Sean Dyer went 14.75 for the win at Huey Magoo.  Bryce Dopson's (Brookwood) 14.76 was 5th at Gail Devers.  Another Shiloh athlete, Eric Barker, has loads of experience and went 15.09 in February.  Keonte Knight of Parkview has gone 15.10 this season and was 5th at County and 3rd at State in the event last year.  Buford's Jayden Ivaniciuc is 5-2 on the year with a season-best 15.13 behind the above-mentioned Sean Dyer.  Discovery's Ishmeal Neblett went 15.18 for 7th at MTFXCCGA.  Archer's Aaron Jones was 8th at the same event in 15.19.  See what I mean?  Someone good is going to be left out.


Girls:  Ron-Niah Wright (Peachtree Ridge) is the clear favorite here.  She was 3rd at State, won County in 2022, and is a full second clear of her rivals this season.  Jordan Fort (Shiloh) only lost to Wright by .07 at County last year though, so while she hasn't been able to keep pace yet this season, County could be a great time to get some revenge.  Jaci Wright (Buford) and Dallas Guy (Dacula), both also prominent in the 100m hurdles, should also threaten.

Boys:  Brookwood's Bryce Dopson is really good at the 300m hurdles.  He's currently ranked 13th in the country in the event at 38.06, was 2nd at State and County last year, and will look to get that first big victory as a senior.  There are other contenders as the hurdle talent in Gwinnett this year might be at an all-time high; those contenders include lots of threats in the 110s like Sean Dyer (Grayson), Bryce Southerland and Eric Barker (Shiloh), and Keonte Knight (Parkview). 



Girls:  Archer enters as the current all-class #5 at 47.58 which they ran for the win at Gail Devers.  This makes sense considering they have Samiya Wayne and Kyndall Sessom doing a lot of the heavy lifting.  If the handoffs are clean, they may be untouched.  Buford (48.27), Grayson (48.90), and Mill Creek (49.14) will try to keep it close.

Boys:  Buford's 41.29 is the all-class #4 which they ran at their home meet (Erin Marsh) a couple weeks ago.  Remember that Buford actually features 3 of the top 4 guys in the 100m dash - Devin Williams, Jeremiah Colbert, and Osiris Gilbert, so, again, it makes sense that they'd be the heavy favorites coming in.  Parkview (42.15), Mill Creek (42.23), and Brookwood (42.47) have all logged sub 42.5s, and in this event, anything can happen with the handoffs.


Girls:  So far, Peachtree Ridge and Archer are the only 2 teams that have gone below 1:44 this season, and this is a pretty difficult event to predict as depth will be truly tested; how many teams will have 100m kids run 'up' to the 200m?  How many have enough strong 200m runners in general?  How many have 400m kids able to 'run down'?  "Paper" says it's a duel between these 2 teams, but keep an eye out for Shiloh whose 1:44.86 is close enough to strike a little bit of fear.

Boys:  On paper, Buford and Shiloh have this event locked down.  Buford comes in at all-class #7 while Shiloh is #12.  Both are historically strong sprint powerhouses.  Buford may have the edge in 200m star power with Devin Williams and Ervin Pearson.  Parkview (1:29.30), Discovery (1:29.59), and Meadowcreek (1:29.96) have all logged sub 1:30s, so keep them on your radar as well.


Girls:  All roads lead to the 4x400m, so the team conquest could be altered here as well.  It's not a particularly strong looking field on the girls' side this year with the fastest time being 4:05 and nobody else under 4:10, but we're still relatively early in the season.  The open 400m is loaded, but the talent is very spread out; will we be treated to an anchor-leg battle to close out the meet?  Peachtree Ridge self-entered at 4:03, so they appear to believe that they can take this event.

Boys:  Grayson is the all-class #3 at 3:18.59, but Buford (3:21), South Gwinnett (3:22), and Shiloh (3:24) are all in the top 11 all-class, so this could end up being an exciting end to a long and event-filled meet.   Could we see a Daniels vs. Coleman anchor showdown?


Girls:  If Brookwood fully loads up, then they may not be able to be touched as they're nearly 30 seconds clear in the 4x8.  Their 9:50 is currently top 50 nationally and the #1 all-class in GA, so to the rest of the field, I say - good luck.  If they decide to rest one of their studs, then maybe the likes of North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Parkview, or Buford have a chance, but the race is likely for 2nd place.

Boys:  Archer self-seeded at 8:00, but I believe it, considering they have 2 guys who have gone 1:57 in Conner Robbins and Steven McCartney.  Parkview has the best official seed at 8:18, but that's a far cry from Archer.  Mill Creek, Grayson, and Brookwood stand a chance if Archer decides to rest one, but again, it's likely a race for 2nd place.


High Jump:

Girls:  Danah Nembhard (Dacula) was 3rd at State 6A in the high jump with a leap of 5-6, and she's back to her studly ways having already jumped 5-6 this season.  She won County last year and looks to be the favorite this year to repeat.  With that said, we need to also consider the 2022 6A State champ in Aiya Webb who has also gone 5-6 in her career (5-4 this year).  Mya Hines (Peachtree Ridge) also went 5-6 about 5 days ago after spending most of her season between 5-0 and 5-2, so if she's rounding to form, then these 2 ladies can put some pressure on Nembard.

Boys:  The boys' high jump is a pretty big mess as 12 guys have gone between 6-3 and 6-0 this season and a further 11 guys have jumped 5-10, showcasing this event as a true tossup.  Kendall Johnson (North Gwinnett) is the sole 6-3 jumper so far this season and has seemingly the entire world nipping at his heels.

Long Jump:

Girls:  Buford's Jaci Wright headlines the girls' Long Jump with a current-season best leap of 19-2.75.  I mentioned earlier that Wright was undefeated in the hurdles, but she's also undefeated in the long jump... and the triple jump... making her 21-1 across all events (lone loss in the 200m).  That's super impressive.  She won both this and the triple jump at State last year, making her the likely favorite.  Or... is she?  Speaking of being undefeated, guess what?  Brookwood's Chloe Perryman is undefeated in the Long Jump this year and is 13-1 when combining last year with her only loss being her runner-up finish at State 7A.  She's just as capable of winning this event considering her career best is 19-6.  Watch for these 2 to duke it out.

Boys:  The Boys' long jump is very deep this year and could be a keynote field event to watch.  There are 13 boys entered with jumps of 21 feet or longer, meaning some strong jumpers will be left out of finals.  Mill Creek's Joseph Alexander, last year's County champ, leads the charge after winning the Jerry Arnold in a career best 23-2.5.  Buford has a trio including Christian Langford, Jayden Ivaniciuc, and Osiris Gilbert who are all seeded at 22-3.5 or higher.  Add Grayson's Mason Humphrey (22-3) and Mill Creek's Demarko Lawler, Jr. (22-2) to the equation, and you have yourself some potential for a long jump battle for the ages.

Triple Jump:

Girls:  Another deep field event here, this time on the girls' side, as 4 girls come in with leaps over 38 feet (and Jaci Wright of Buford  at 37-11.25...).  North Gwinnett's Adaora Tagbo is closing in on 40 feet and leads the field at 38-11.5 which she did to win the Longhorn Stampede.  She's currently 21st in the nation and will look to add a County title to her resume.  Teammates Danah Nembard and Marie Tchocksi of Dacula come in at 38-11 and 38-6 respectively.  Nembard is 22nd in the country and, remember, also the high jump favorite... can she double?  Tchocksi has been hitting the jumps hard during Indoor and ended up finishing 3rd at Adidas Indoors in 38-4.75 making her a huge threat for the title.  Then, we have Mill Creek's Adrianna Pelham who was 3rd at State 7A last year and 3rd at County.  Her 38-4 was 2nd at Jerry Arnold and primes her to be a threat.  Rounding out the girls' Triple Jump is Jaci Wright of Buford who we've already established barely ever loses... so good luck, ladies.

Boys:  The boys' field features 4 guys seeded over 44 feet and 2 more in the 44s.  Buford's KJ Bolden has yet to hit the mark this Outdoor season; however, he won his Sectional and was 3rd at State, topping out at 46-2.5.  He was also 3rd at County last year, so it'll be exciting to see if he can top the mountain.  Joseph Alexander of Mill Creek hasn't been as consistent in the Triple when compared to the Long; however, he did go 45-5 once last year, so the talent is there.  Shiloh's Azwan Nembard-Belcher, formerly of Dacula, won the Triple Jump at Gail Devers in 45-5 so is already off to a hot start.  Buford's Jayden Ivaniciuc has been mentioned several times already, and guess what - he's undefeated thus far in the Triple Jump.  Watch for him to stir the pot a bit here.

Pole Vault:

Girls:  The top 4 from last year all return this year.  Hebron's Libby Jackson, winner of last year's County title in Pole Vault, has already gone 12-6 this season which is top 25 in the nation.  She's undefeated thus far in 2023 Outdoor and appears to be the easy favorite entering the Gwinnett County Championships.  Archer's Emmy Miner (3rd last year) will try to make it interesting as she's gone 11-3 and 11-0 thus far.  Victoria Freeland of Mill Creek (2nd last year) and Emilee Easley of Parkview (4th last year) will appear to do battle again and see if they can knock Jackson down a peg or 2.

Boys:  Hebron's Owen Anderson has been over 14 feet in each of his first 4 meets of Outdoor, so he enters in a similar fashion to teammate Libby Jackson - the heavy favorite.  Mill Creek's Timothy Lamb has gotten pretty close at 14-3.25, but he's only eclipsed 14 that one time; with that said, he's also undefeated this year, so who's to say that the addition of some extra competition won't elevate him and cause him to raise the bar (ba-dum, tsss).  Last year's runner-up, Norcross's Harrison Green, has gone 13-3 and obviously is a threat, too.


Shot Put:

Girls:  This will be a fun duel between 2 athletes who have already chucked the cannon ball over 40 feet - Christianne Akintayo of Archer and Noelle Igberaese of Dacula.  Akintayo is undefeated, most recently winning at Gail Devers, while Igberaese was 2nd at Devers and is not far behind - losing only by 5.5 inches.  The Grayson pair Kijana Callwood and Kameryn Hannon could threaten as both have been over 36 feet.

Boys:  Parkview's Cortez Smith is the only one in the field with a 50+ footer on his 2023 resume, and considering nobody eclipsed 50 feet last year and the top 4 were all seniors, this could be enough to snag the victory.  Mill Creek's Emanuel Marshall has gone 48-0, and the top returner from last year, North Gwinnett's Michael Hicks, enters at 47-2, tied with Shiloh's Tavaris Taylor.


Girls:  Has there been a time in the last 20 years where Dacula didn't have good throwers?  I graduated from there in 2004... and it's just been a recurring place of success for field events, especially the throws.  Noelle Igberaese will look to win the 'double crown' of throws as she'll enter the circle undefeated in Outdoor with a throw of 140 feet, good for #1 All-Class and 31st in the United States.  She was 3rd last year and is also the top returner.  She is over 16 feet clear of her next closest foes Kameryn Hannon and Kijana Callwood (Grayson) and Christianne Akintayo (Archer)

Boys:  We have a tie at the top in the Boys Discus as both Parkview's Caleb Hamilton and Mill Creek's Donningtun Walters come in at 140-11. The entire top 4 from last year graduated, so we'll have lots of fresh faces in this year's battle.  Top returner Michael Hicks of North Gwinnett and David Pierre of Hebron have throws of over 137 feet and will look to keep it close.  Can they find a few more feet and pull off the upset?


Girls:  Peachtree Ridge has the nod on paper for the girls' title as evidenced by their strength in the hurdles and the sprints.  They've got depth in most events though which is critical in a team title race.  Buford, Dacula, Archer, Mill Creek, and Brookwood all have realistic shots though should the Lions falter.

Boys:  On paper, it's a route for Shiloh.  Strength in the hurdles, relays, and the jumps give Shiloh a big lead over the rest of the competition.  Buford, Parkview, Grayson, Archer, and Mill Creek all have strengths in a variety of places though, so if anything crazy happens, any of those teams could in theory swoop in and steal a victory.  On paper though, it's all about the Generals.