Unsung Heroes Week Of Mar 20 - 27: We Are The Champions

Marcus Robinson, finishing 5th in the finals of the 200 at Cobb County, is one of our winners this week

Week of Mar 20 - Mar 27 Unsung Heroes Week 6: We Are the Champions

Last week was the Great County Championship Week for Georgia track & field. I counted no fewer than ten county championships from March 21 to March 28, plus the Metro Atlanta Championships. While that might sound like a lot, 10 counties are only 6% of the counties in Georgia! County Championship Week through spring break marks the unofficial end of the midseason for the track and field season. When athletes return from spring break, many of them only have about two weeks of the season left! The closer we get to that point, the times get faster and the marks get higher, which is why it's important to recognize athletes who may get lost in the shuffle. This week at Unsung Heroes, the focus is on juniors. In many events, juniors represent a high proportion of the top athletes, but they have the added benefit of another year of improvement next season. All of the athletes below finished in the top four of their respective meets, and most of them are ranked in the top five of their classification in their best event.

"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


Amoi Hagans, Newton

         24.89 in 200m at NewRock Track and Field Championships, 1st

         12.21 in 100m at NewRock Track and Field Championships, 1st

Among all the larger county championships held last week, the NewRock Championships (essentially the Rockdale County championships) went by without too much attention, as only five schools participated. That's exactly why this column exists! Newton's Amoi Hagans deserves a shout-out for her performance in the sprints, sweeping the 100m and 200m with about a 0.4-second margin of victory in both events. Both times represented outdoor PRs for Hagans. After missing out on qualifying for the sectional meet in both events last season, Hagans could be poised for a big breakout in the postseason this year.


Taylor Daniels, Lithia Springs

         15.86 in 100mH at Douglas County Championship, 1st

         48.38 in 300mH at Douglas County Championship, 2nd

Douglas County contains a plethora of teams that field competitive track and field teams, so being the Douglas County champion means something. That's the title that Lithia Springs's Taylor Daniels can claim for a second straight season after a great showing. She won the 100-meter hurdles in a time nearly 1.5 seconds faster than her county-winning time from last season. Daniels also managed to greatly improve her performance in the 300-meter hurdles for a strong runner-up finish. The next step for Daniels is qualifying for her first state meet. If she keeps up these performances, she could make it in both events.


Sarah Head, Lee County

         2:21.25 in 800m at Harmon's Invitational, 1st

         45.06 in 300mH at Harmon's Invitational, 2nd

Last season, Lee County's Sarah Head was a standard sprinter, competing in the 100m, 200m, and 400m at region. Her best event was the 400m, where she finished ninth at 6A state. This year, she branched out. Head is still elite in the 400m (57.74 SB), but now she is also elite in the 800m and 300mH as she completes the mid-distance gamut. Head dominated the 800m at Harmon's Invitational in her fourth performance under 2:22, and fourth win, this season. She was only bested in the 300-meter hurdles by Monroe Comprehensive's Marianna Wright, one of GA's best hurdlers. The two finished more than three seconds ahead of third place. I'm not sure which events Sarah Head will end up competing in the postseason, but she'll be able to succeed in several! As she has not faced truly top competition yet, it will be exciting to see how fast she'll go when competing against GA's strongest fields.


Taya Blouin, Locust Grove

         113' in Discus at Henry County Track and Field Championships, 3rd

         34' 1" in Shot Put at Henry County Track and Field Championships, 4th

Henry County held yet another underrated county championship last week with schools such as Dutchtown, Eagle's Landing, and Stockbridge participating. Locust Grove also put in a great showing, and junior thrower Taya Blouin put together her best performance of her career so far. Blouin slung the discus to a distance of 113 feet, and she also put the shot more than 34 feet away. While she did not take home the county championship (finishing behind ELCA's Nyla Wilson and Stockbridge's Dayneijia Atkins in both events), Blouin proved that she will be a force in 5A for the rest of the season. She currently ranks fifth in the classification for the discus, less than 7 feet from second place.


Caylie Jefferson, Westlake

         38' 1" in Triple Jump at Fulton County Schools Track & Field Championships, 1st

         17' 11.75" in Long Jump at Fulton County Schools Track & Field Championships, 2nd

Of course, when discussing county championships, we could hardly fail to mention Fulton County, Georgia's most populous county. Some of the heats at this late March meet were as competitive as the state meet finals in most classifications! Winning any event here meant being one of the top athletes in that event in the state. That's exactly why Westlake's Caylie Jefferson ended up as the champion in the triple jump. Although she somehow has never competed in the triple jump in a state meet, Jefferson is one of just 13 Georgians to break 38 feet in the triple jump this season. She also ranks very high in the long jump, and she could be a key for Westlake as they attempt to win the 7A team title in 2023.


Boys Winners


Marcus Robinson, Pebblebrook

         10.78 in 100m at Cobb County Championships, 5th (prelims) / 4th (finals)

         22.00 in 200m at Cobb County Championships, 5th (finals)

At the Cobb County Championships, Pebblebrook's Dwight Phillips (the defending 7A 100m champion) drew the spotlight with an incredible 10.26 and 10.35. Looking just a little further down the results at the meet, however, you will come across another great junior Pebblebrook sprinter: Marcus Robinson. Robinson, like Phillips, set a 100m PR in the prelims and also ran spectacularly in the finals. Unlike Phillips, Robinson also ran in the 200m, where he set another PR and hit 22 seconds on the dot in the finals. Region 2-7A is perhaps the toughest region in the state for sprinting, but Robinson has a chance to join Phillips and teammate Keyawn Spencer to represent Pebblebrook in the sprints at the state meet.


Bryson Craft, Miller Grove

         41.33 in 300mH at Napoleon B. Cobb DeKalb County Championships, 3rd (prelims) 

DeKalb County did not want to be left out of the county championship fun. This county includes teams such as Southwest DeKalb, Cedar Grove, Tucker, and Decatur. Junior hurdler/sprinter Bryson Craft represented Miller Grove at this meet, and he acquitted himself well against top competition in the prelims, winning his heat by over 1.5 seconds in the 300mH. Craft may have taken a tumble in the finals (explaining his slower time there), but that does not change the fact that he ranks in the top eight hurdlers in 4A for 300 meters. That's especially impressive considering that Craft did not run in ANY hurdle races last season, so he has had to pick up these skills recently. My prediction is that Craft continues to improve his hurdling skills and finishes in the top five in both hurdle events at state.


Andrew Rothwell, Whitefield

         9:42.65 in 3200m at Metro Atlanta Track and Field Championship, 4th

         4:28.87 in 1600m at Metro Atlanta Track and Field Championship, 8th

         2:03.67 in 800m at Metro Atlanta Track and Field Championship, 9th 

Why hold a county championship when you can just hold a metro championship for an area that covers more than 50% of the population of the state? This meet was also incredibly deep, especially with Carrollton HS going toe-to-toe with private schools such as Marist, Blessed Trinity, St. Pius X, and Woodward. Finishing as the only athlete in the top nine of the 800m, 1600m, AND 3200m was Whitefield junior Andrew Rothwell. While star XC teammate Taylor Wade has not yet competed this track season, Rothwell is taking full advantage of his time in the spotlight. He ranks first in 1A Division I in the 3200m, second in the 1600m, and fourth in the 800m. While a distance triple crown may be out of reach, Rothwell has a chance at being 1A-DI's highest individual scorer. That's amazing for a runner who scored exactly 1 point last year. 


Tavaris Taylor, Shiloh

         49' 9" in Shot Put at Gwinnett County Varsity Championships, 2nd

         136' 6" in Discus Throw at Gwinnett County Varsity Championships, 3rd

Only 25 boys have thrown the shot more than 50 feet this season. Tavaris Taylor of Shiloh very nearly became the most recent (and perhaps most unlikely) boy to join that group at the Gwinnett County Championships on Saturday. Last year, Taylor threw a five-foot PR in the shot put at region but still finished sixth. This year, throwing a five-foot PR at region would rank him #2 all-classifications in Georgia. As it stands, Taylor's 49' 9" performance at Peachtree Ridge last week marked a PR by more than two feet and earned him second place competing against athletes from Parkview, Buford, Mill Creek, Brookwood, and more. He's now on track to score in the 6A state meet, which could be big for Shiloh.


Keyshawn Hollis, Liberty County

         22' 0.5" in Long Jump at Game Changers Apex Invite, 2nd

         10.93 in 100m at Game Changers Apex Invite, 2nd

I feel like I have not credited long jumpers enough in this column this year, so I intend to remedy that by recognizing one of the best long jumpers from a smaller school this season Liberty County's Keyshawn Hollis. Liberty County is too small to host a county championship, so LCHS competed at the Game Changers Apex Invite against larger schools like Camden County, Richmond Hill, and Jenkins. Hollis finished only behind Camden County's Deonte Cole in both the 100m and the long jump. In the latter event, Cole set a personal record, and his jump was almost two feet longer than his 11th-place jump at 3A state last year. He'll be a favorite to finish in the top four in the LJ this season. A top-five finish in the 100m is also very much possible.