2023 GHSA 4A Boys And Girls State Track & Field Meet Preview

Joseph Jacquot will try to help Westminster boys win a track and field team title

GHSA 4A Girls State Meet Preview


4A underwent an impressive re-shuffling after last year's state track meet, which means there are a lot of teams new to the classification this year, including 3A defending champion Westminster. The Wildcats head into the state meet favored to capture the 4A title this year thanks to a team loaded with great athletes in many events. The first athlete is junior Grace Smith, who will likely be competing in four individual events at state. Smith ranks in the top four in 4A in the long jump, 100m, 100mH, and 300mH. Her long jump PR of 20' 0" ranks #1 all-classifications. Covering all three distance events for Westminster is senior Palmer Walstad, already a five-time state champion between XC and track. Senior Kelsey Chambers, like Smith, will be attempting four individual events at state: the long, triple, and high jumps alongside the 100mH. According to PR rankings, Chambers could score 22 points on her own. Junior Camille Quarterman ranks first in 4A in the 400m, and sophomore Madison Townsend ranks first in the pole vault, among other Westminster vaulters. It will take some serious determination to prevent Westminster from topping the podium in Albany.

The team with the best chance of walloping the Wildcats is their region rival Druid Hills. Druid Hills has some amazing athletes of their own in the sprints. Junior Sanaa Frederick has been dominant in the 100m and 200m all season long, going undefeated in both events. She's now on the GA all-time top 10 list in both of these distances! Just behind Sanaa is her sister Sole Frederick, who would rank first in the 200 in any normal year, and Sole has also been very successful at the 400. Teammate Jadyn Bolden is also one of 4A's top 400m runners and long jumpers. In the distance events, Harley Martz could score some points in all three events as well. Druid Hills has the talent to put together some epic relay teams, and they'll need to do that to keep pace with Westminster.

Three teams that could challenge Druid Hills are Pace Academy, North Hall, and Stockbridge. Pace, the XC champion, will be relying on its distance runners, especially junior Caroline Hood. Hood won't be attempting the distance triple crown, but she will be racing the 1600 and 3200 at state, where she'll be the favorite. Her 3200m time of 10:29 is good enough for a top 10 all-time time. (Side note: is it just me, or are there a lot of all-time top 10 marks that have been and could still be produced this season?) Helping Hood will be distance runners Harriet Blaha and Zahara Bernal, as well as jumper Brooke Fung Chung. North Hall will similarly be counting on their distance runners, namely Abi Moore and Clodagh O'Bryant. Jumper Eve Taylor will also be vital for the Trojans, competing in all three jumping events and ranking tied for third in the high jump. Finally, Stockbridge will aim to finish on the podium thanks to contributors in several different disciplines. Quenteria Birts is one of the top mid-distance runners in 4A, and Daynejia Atkins is one of the top throwers in 4A. Kennedi Bryan is also a top-five favorite in the 200. Unlike Pace and North Hall, Stockbridge also has a great chance of scoring in at least three relay events. Other teams to watch include Westover, Woodland, and Starr's Mill. 


There are many other intriguing storylines in the individual events. How fast will we see Sanaa Frederick run in the 100 and 200? In the 400, we have five athletes whose PR is within a second of each other (Quarterman, Birts, Sole Frederick, Bolden, and Lydia Robinson of East Forsyth), so the winner will be anyone's guess. In the 1600 and 3200, we will see a rematch of the 4A XC race between Walstad and Hood (won by Walstad), but Hood will be the favorite this time. In the 100m hurdles, there are three girls who have broken 14.6. We'll see who can come out on top between Smith of Westminster, Hannah Cheek of Cherokee Bluff, and Nafer Rapier of Baldwin, all of whom have been on fire in recent weeks. Druid Hills has the ability to put together an amazing 4x200 and/or 4x400. I'm also excited to see how the 4x800 battle shakes out. Just like in XC season, we could see a very close race between Pace, North Hall, Starr's Mill, and Westminster.

In field events, Griffin's Zy Thompson is one of the state's best high jumpers (5' 8" PR) in any classification. Westminster's Townsend is the fifth-ranked sophomore pole vaulter of all time in GA. In the shot put, West Laurens's MaKayla Register and Fayette County's Onoyeme Egure have separated from the pack, each topping 39 feet multiple times. Finally, there looks to be a tight matchup in the discus between three athletes with PRs within two feet of each other: Northwest Whitfield's Emily Lane (125' 4"), Heritage's Avah Morrison (123' 8"), and Stockbridge's Atkins (123' 6"), so that event might be a toss-up (no pun intended).

GHSA 4A Boys State Meet Preview


As I mentioned in the season preview back in February, there are four defending state champions in 4A this year, which has to be some kind of record. We have Southwest DeKalb (5A last year), Westminster (3A), Pace Academy (2A), and Holy Innocents' (1A Private). Ironically, last year's 4A state champion, Marist, is not in the classification this year. The team competition looks to be shaping up to be a two-team battle between Westminster and Southwest DeKalb. We'll begin by discussing the slight favorites, Westminster. The Wildcats are known for their distance runners, and this year is no exception. Teammates Esfan Daya and Joseph Jacquot are both ranked in the top five in the 1600 and 3200. Fellow junior Willem Mandel and freshman Rohan Gazula are ranked 1-2 in the 800m run among state qualifiers. However, Westminster is not solely a distance powerhouse. Thrower Phillips Moore could win both the shot put and discus. Sprinter William Gituku is (narrowly) ranked first in the 400 as well, and he could score more points in the 200. A great 4x800 team that ranks first all-classifications, combined with a school record 4x400 squad, could be enough to give Westminster the victory. 

Southwest DeKalb has its work cut out for its athletes, but they appear to be up to the task. The Panthers will be led by brothers Isaiah and Xzaviah Taylor, who both already rank among the top five GA 300m hurdlers of all time. Isaiah is also the top 100m hurdler in all GA this year, and Xzaviah doubles as one of the fastest 400m runners in 4A. Therrian Alexander joins Xzaviah Taylor in the top four ranked 400m runners in 4A. Derrick Eskridge is also a threat in the 800. Thanks to these four athletes and several others, Southwest has destroyed competition in their relays this year. SW DeKalb just ran a 3:11.41 4x400m at their sectional, which ranks 3rd all time in GA. They will need their top runners to produce, however, because the Panthers are not expected to score any points in the field, and in only four individual events.

Though these two teams might be the favorites, they aren't the only teams attempting to win in Albany. Starr's Mill has separated itself as the top challenger to the duopoly. The "other" Panthers have strong scoring opportunities in the throws, distance events, and jumps. Tito Alofe is ranked among the top two athletes in 4A in all three jumping events. He's one of only three athletes in GA to jump at least 7 feet in the high jump this season. Seniors Greigh Joseph and Josh Phifer, alongside very talented sophomore Jared Moore, will try to score crucial points in the throws. In the distance events, Denver Oates, Ethan Aguilera-Morton, Grant Dougher, and Bankson Roach could all potentially score points for Starr's Mill. They'll need to use their distance runners and relays to try to maximize their points while also bringing down Westminster's and Southwest DeKalb's.

A group of teams that will fight for the final podium spot, or even higher, are Holy Innocents', Whitewater, Stephenson, and Cedartown. Holy Innocents' will be relying on senior distance runner Joe Sapone in the 1600 and 3200. Whitewater and Cedartown are more balanced and could score points in as many as eight events. Stephenson's strength is the sprints and relays, where they will rely on Jace Coleman to score more points. Other teams to watch include Miller Grove, East Forsyth, and Hampton. 


Some very juicy battles are lining up for the 4A state meet. In the 100m dash, we have Hampton's Lassale Hewlett and Southeast Bulloch's Curtis Coleman as the two favorites. Both have had nearly undefeated seasons and at least four races under 10.7, but Jace Coleman and Ali Dargan are also lurking. Dargan of Miller Grove is actually the favorite in the 200m. In the 400m, the top five athletes have all run within 0.5 seconds of each other between 47.5 and 48 seconds, so that race will be very fast and entertaining. In the 1600 and 3200, we'll see the grudge match between Holy Innocents' Sapone and East Forsyth's Alex Arrambide. Arrambide beat Sapone at XC state, but Sapone has run the faster times so far this track season. Both runners are undefeated in both events. In the 300mH, depending on the conditions, we could see another historic run from Isaiah Taylor, who has been unstoppable this year in that event. Each of the relays has the potential to be bonkers, due to how fast all of these teams have already run, but the 4x400m could be the deciding event in the team battle, and we could maybe see SW DeKalb break 3:10!?! Westminster's 4x800m could also find a spot on the all-time top 10 list.

The intrigue continues in the field events. In the long jump, Whitewater's Braeden Ofosu-Kwarteng will battle with Starr's Mill's Alofe. In the triple jump, Alofe will again be challenged, this time by Westover's Isaiah Rayner. Owen Wilkinson of Central HS is the favorite in the pole vault with a PR of 14' 1". Phillips Moore of Westminster is the favorite in both throwing events, but he'll be very closely followed in the discus by Phifer and Moore of Starrs Mill and Elijah Blige of New Hampstead, all of whom have thrown over 160 feet this season.