Region Unsung Heroes Weeks of Apr 17-28: The End of the Road

Kyshon Kenny, one of this week's winners, racing at the Christian Taylor Invitational earlier this season

Region Week Unsung Heroes Week 9: The End of the Road

All season long, I've been titling my Unsung Heroes based on puns from song titles. This week, I thought Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" would be fitting. For the vast majority of GA track and field athletes, their season has recently ended. Only 32 men and 32 women remain, per event, per classification. It's also the end of the road for the Unsung Heroes this season, so this will be the final batch of awards for the 2023 track and field season. The season has been incredibly entertaining, and so many young men and women have trained and competed to the best of their abilities. This week, we're recognizing region champions who have still flown under the radar in their respective classifications. However, that represents a tiny fraction of the total athletes who have poured so much time and energy into improving themselves, pushing their teammates, and learning how to productively compete against their past selves and against others. When your season comes to the end of its road (or track, if you will), don't take it for granted.

"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


Sophia Richard, Alpharetta

         25.14 in 200m at GHSA 6A - Region 7, 1st

         12.40 in 100m at GHSA 6A - Region 7, 1st 

Sophia Richard, a junior at Alpharetta, is looking for redemption after missing the second half of the season last year, presumably with an injury. She has returned to her top form this year, even better than when she qualified for the 7A state meet in two events as a freshman. Richard dominated region 7-6A, beating the field by 0.6 seconds in the 100m and by 0.7 seconds in the 200m. Richard's 25.06 time in the 200m prelims marked a PR, and the 12.40 in the 100m was her second fastest time of the season, so she's in fine form heading into sectionals and state. Richard will be aiming to not just qualify for the state meet but do some damage once she is there.


India Thorpe, MLK

         14.84 in 100mH at GHSA 5A - Region 4, 1st

         44.83 in 300mH at GHSA 5A - Region 4, 1st

         4' 10" in High Jump at GHSA 5A - Region 4, 3rd

At the beginning of the season, nobody would have guessed that India Thorpe, a sophomore from Martin Luther King High School, would be a double region champion. Her PRs as a freshman were 17.00 in the 100mH and 1:05.0 in the 300mH. Thorpe must have seriously trained in the hurdles alongside running XC in the fall, as she came blazing into the 2023 season with a PR or two in almost every race. She capped her season at region with a comfortable victory in the 300mH and an extremely tight victory in the 100mH over some very good and more experienced hurdlers. There's no indication that Thorpe is finished improving, and she already ranks 4th in the 100mH and 3rd in the 300mH in 5A. By the way, she also ranks in the top 10 in the high jump as well with a 5' 2" mark from earlier in the season.


Lexi Pavese, Cherokee

         2:21.80 in 800m at GHSA 7A - Region 5, 1st

         5:12.00 in 1600m at GHSA 7A - Region 5, 1st

         12:01.07 in 3200m at GHSA 7A - Region 5, 3rd

Lexi Pavese of Cherokee is no stranger to the GHSA state meet, qualifying three times in XC and twice in the 1600 and 3200 in track. As a senior, Pavese decided to run the 800m at region for the first time, and it paid off in a big way with a three-second PR to grab the region title. She also competed in the 1600 and 3200 once again at region, winning the 1600 over a strong group of Walton runners and finishing third in the 3200. It's certainly ambitious to try to run all three events in the postseason, but Pavese has as good a shot as any to be successful in all three at state, especially given her newfound speed in the 800.


Hoake Mazzawi, Hebron Christian

         37' 7" in Shot Put at GHSA 3A - Region 8, 1st

         106' 0" in Discus Throw at GHSA 3A - Region 8, 3rd

Hoake Mazzawi of Hebron Christian has qualified for the sectional meet in the shot put twice before. In 2021, her PR was 32' 6.5" and she placed ninth at state. In 2022, her PR was 32' 4", and she placed 11th at sectionals. However, don't expect this season to be the same story. Mazzawi has broken 33 feet in the shot put five times in six meets this season, and she threw a PR of 37' 7" in her most recent meet at region. That performance ranks her fourth in 3A, among a group of five athletes with a PR between 37' 5" and 37' 9", so the 3A girls' shot put should be a barnburner. Look for Mazzwi to score some big points for Hebron Christian. She has the potential to score in the discus as well, given that she is peaking in that event at the right time as well.


Gabby Nguyen, North Oconee

         11' 0" in Pole Vault at GHSA 4A - Region 8, 1st

Gabby Nguyen was extremely consistent this season, soaring between 10' and 10' 7" in all seven of her meets during the regular season. Those are some great performances, but they weren't quite enough to push her to the top of her own team. However, that changed at region, as Nguyen earned the region championship in the pole vault with a leap of 11 feet. Most impressively, this was Nguyen's first season vaulting for North Oconee. Now, Nguyen and teammate Sadie Arnold both have the potential to finish at the top of the podium in the 4A state meet.

Boys Winners


Benjamin Henry, Arabia Mountain

         10.74 in 100m at GHSA 5A - Region 4, 1st

         21.45 in 200m at GHSA 5A - Region 4, 1st

It has been quite the improving season for Benjamin Henry, a sophomore at Arabia Mountain (near Stonecrest). It's been an incredibly steady progression for Henry, going back to last season. This year, not counting preliminaries of meets, Henry has set a new SB in every single race this season in the 200m. He's also improved significantly in the 100m as well. Despite not being necessarily the favorite heading into the region finals, Henry managed to finish first in both events. His predictably great improvements could serve him well in sectionals and state, especially in the 200m, as Henry currently ranks second in 5A in that event.  


Kyshon Kenney, Sandy Creek

         15.08 in 110mH at GHSA 3A - Region 5, 1st

         41.29 in 300mH at GHSA 3A - Region 5, 1st

Sandy Creek is the favorite for the 3A state meet despite facing some serious competition from other teams who have exceeded expectations. One of the reasons Sandy Creek has kept pace has been the development of hurdler Kyshon Kenney. Kenney has been stellar in both hurdle events this season, and he proved that at region, winning the 110m and 300m hurdles. Kenney faced stiff competition in both events, but mainly from his own teammates. Sandy Creek pushed through three athletes to sectionals in both hurdle distances. Kenney may be on the best trend of all of these athletes at the current moment, ranking in the top seven in both events in 3A.


Kameron Holmes, Houston County

         9:51.45 in 3200m at GHSA 6A - Region 1, 1st

         4:35.69 in 1600m at GHSA 6A - Region 1, 1st

The top 3200m runners in the state are all cross country standouts as well. After all, the 3200m speed on the track correlates very well to 5000m speed on the course. Kameron Holmes is a rare exception to this rule. He could have been a great XC runner, but he just didn't run a race this season after a decent XC season in 2021. However, he's back on the track here in 2023, and he's faster than ever. Holmes set new PRs in the 1600m and 3200m at region and won both events. His time of 9:51 in the 3200m was, by far, the fastest 3200m time by an athlete who didn't run cross country this fall. Holmes won region in both of these events last year, too, but this year he is significantly improved and should be able to qualify for the state meet.


Sam Ketch and Ade Akisanya, Tallulah Falls

         Ketch: 147' 7" in Discus Throw at GHSA 1A division 1 - Region 8, 1st

         Akisanya: 45' 3" in Shot Put at GHSA 1A-DI - Region 8, 1st

We have a double award for the boys' throws this week. Two athletes from Tallulah Falls showed out in Region 8-1A DI. Junior Sam Ketch has had a fantastic season in both throwing events, but he focused on the discus throw at region. That move paid off, with Ketch setting a PR of more than ten feet to win the region championship. Ketch is well-positioned for a finish near the top of the podium in 1A Division 1. Perhaps even more impressive, Ketch's sophomore teammate Ade Akisanya threw a massive PR by five feet of 45' 3". He beat four athletes who threw farther than his previous PR. Now Akisanya ranks among the top eight shot putters in 3A as just a sophomore. Don't be surprised if Tallulah Falls scores some major points in the throwing events at the state meet.


Corbin Davenport, Fannin County

         13' 6" in Pole Vault at GHSA 2A - Region 7, 1st

         19' 7.5" in Long Jump at GHSA 2A - Region 7, 5th

Unsung Heroes for the 2023 track and field season concludes by honoring Fannin County senior Corbin Davenport. Davenport has only been vaulting for two seasons now, but he already qualified for the 2A state meet in his first season vaulting. This season, Davenport saved his best jump for the region meet, where he finally jumped higher than 13 feet for the first time this season, earning the victory over teammate Tyler Stevenson, who has also had an outstanding season. Davenport also missed out on qualifying for sectionals in the long jump by the slimmest of margins-only a half inch. Davenport and Stevenson will be two of the favorites to win the 2A pole vault at state this year.