Ansley Moore of Athens Christian celebrates her individual win in the 800m that helped propel her team to victory
2023 GHSA State Meet Hub
GHSA 1A Division 1 State Meet Recap
The state meet is always exciting because it is unpredictable. With as many events as there are to contest, the chances of everything going the way that it appears it will go on paper are very slim. This makes writing the preview a difficult task. If you did not agree with my preview, I hope it gave you the motivation to go out and prove me wrong at the state meet. If I leave you out of the recap and you feel I should mention you, then I apologize. Please know that my mentioning or not mentioning of you is nothing personal and has nothing to do with your individual or team performances and does not define your worth as an athlete and more importantly as a person. I am just one man, and these articles reflect what I see. I am also not perfect, so I am going to miss something. Please do not be tempted to find me on social media and spam my DMs with how wrong I am. I already know I am wrong but I also have a full time job, family and team to tend to which leaves me very little time to explain myself and the hours I put in to researching and writing these articles.
As I dive into the meet recap, I am reminded of a quote by the great Walter Payton: "When you're good at something, you'll tell everyone. When you're great at something, they'll tell you." So, without further ado, let's look at some of the great performances from the GHSA State Meet!
Boys Team Recap
For the 1A boys team race, I had most of the contenders mentioned but some big-time performances shook up the order.
When you look across the different classifications, it looks like to be in the mix to win a team title, you must be able to score in the 60-70+ point range. I thought coming into the meeting that The Mount Vernon School had that chance, but things did not shake out in their favor as they fell to a distant 7th. The top honors went to Mount Pisgah Christian School who took home the team title with 70 points while Athens Christian finished runner up with 60 points. The battle for the last two podium spots was close with Swainsboro taking 3rd with 59 points and Bleckley County taking 4th with 54 points. I mentioned all 4 of these teams having the chance to be on the podium in the meet preview. It looks like the depth of Mount Pisgah Christian who scored in all event disciplines was a big factor in their success this weekend.
In true dramatic fashion, the 1A-I boys team title came down to the 4x400 relay. Mount Pisgah had a 6-point lead on Athens Christian heading into the final event. Mount Pisgah was in the drivers seat as all they had to do was prevent Athens Christian from out scoring them by 7 points or more. The 4x400 team of Nick Anderson, Makael Carter, Max Tucker and Alexander Medebem finished in 3rd place to seal the victory. While the quest for the title ended on Saturday in the 4x400, it began on Thursday in the field events. Makael Carter and Warren Winston Simmons II got the Patriots off to a hot start in the long jump where they swept the top 2 spots with jumps of 22-7 and 21-8.25, scoring 18 huge points. Max Tucker added 6 points with a 3rd place finish in the shot put. Along with his 8 points in the long jump, Warren Winston Simmons II also added points in the 100 and 200 where he finished 6th and 5th respectively. Max Tucker might have one of the most interesting state meet event schedules as he first competed in the shot put and then was entered in the 400 and 110 hurdles, along with the 4x400. He fell short of the finals in the 110 hurdles but brought home the state title and 10 points in the 400 with a time of 48.32 seconds. Nick Anderson added points in the 300 hurdles where he finished 2nd and Michael Lynch added points in both the 1600 and 3200 where he finished 4th and 3rd respectively. Their final scoring event was the 4x100 relay where they finished 5th overall. Oftentimes we see teams that are either distance heavy or sprint heavy. Mount Pisgah came into the meet with points spread out all over the place and it made them very hard to catch once the finals got started.
Boys Individual Event Recap
The boys 1A-I high jump was very competitive. All scorers jumped 6-0 or better. The battle for the top spot was close as the bar headed to 6-4 with 3 jumpers remaining. Willie Goodwyn of Rabun County had the slight advantage due to clearing 6-0 and 6-4 on his first attempt but it was Jacob Carruthers who reigned supreme as he was the only competitor to clear 6-6. He went on to clear 6-8 on his first attempt for a new PR.
In the boys' shot put, Gus Gammage of Darlington School took the lead on his first put and never looked back. He started the prelims with a mark of 51-3 and could have stopped there as no one else even cleared the 50-0 mark. But he kept going and, on his 6th, and final attempt in the event finals he reached a mark of 54-5 which stretched his lead out and was a new PR. Christian Garrett of Prince Avenue Christian finished in 2nd with a mark of 48-4 while Max Tucker of Mount Pisgah Christian finished 3rd with a mark of 47-7.
The boys' discus competition was a close one with the top 4 athletes all reaching PR marks and the top 3 spots all within 5 feet of each other. Ramontei Dardy of Dublin HS brought home top honors with a 5th attempt mark of 156-0 while KB Bonds of Oglethorpe County was a close 2nd in 154-0 which he also reached on his 5th attempt. Sam Ketch had secured 3rd place with his 5th round throw of 150-0 but used his 6th attempt to stretch that out to 151-0. On his final throw of the prelims, Da'rius Phillips of Swainsboro HS reached a new PR of 148-0 which would be good enough to hold on to 4th place.
Brendan Vanderpool of Whitefield Academy came into the meet as the heavy favorite. His PR of 16-4.75 ranks him #1 in GA and #18 in the US. In the end, Brenden did bring home the victory but was pushed by Clarke Byram of Athens Christian. Clarke opened his competition at 13-0 and had first attempt clearances on his first 3 heights. Brenden did not come in until 14-0 where it took him 3 attempts to clear. Once he got the nerves out of the way, he seemed to settle in a bit as he cleared 14-6 on his first attempt which sealed the victory. Clarke did clear 14-6 on his 3rd attempt to push the bar to 15-0 but neither athlete cleared 15-0. Clarke had 3 misses at that height and Brenden passed his 3 attempts to make later attempts at 15-6. Brenden did not clear 15-6 so it was his first attempt clearance at 14-6 that proved the difference.
The boys' triple jump was a competition that brought the best out of most competitors as 7 of the top 8 competitors all jumped a PR. LJ Green of Heard County HS used his 2nd attempt of 47-4.75 to secure the victory. Teammates Ty Adams and Demellos Jones of Swainsboro added big team points finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively with both jumpers clearing the 45-0 barrier. Michael Flemming of Oglethorpe County was the 4th and final jumper over 45-0 with a mark of 41-1.50.
Mount Pisgah Christian School used this event to springboard them to a team state title with Makael Carter and Warren Winston Simmons II finish 1-2. Makael Carter won the event on his first attempt of 22-4.50 as he was the only competitor to clear 22-0. However, on his 6th and final attempt he leapt out to 22-7 to claim the victory. Warren's second attempt of 21-8.25 was enough to hold of Jace Glenn of Temple HS who had a 6th and final attempt of 21-4.50. Ty Adams of Swainsboro finished 4th to add to his 2nd place finish in the triple jump.
Distance powerhouse Athens Christian reigned supreme in the boys 4x800 holding off the Mount Vernon School, 8:05.43 to 8:07.73. The race for 3rd and 4th was even closer with Darling School edging out Bleckley County by .18 of a second.
Luke Churchwell of Bleckley County used a blistering last lap of 1:01.01 to claim the victory in 4:17.98 to hold of Nathan Smith of Athens Christian who ran a PR of 4:22.79. Freshman Haris Flynn from the Mount Vernon School ran a PR of 4:30.60 to finish 3rd.
The boys 110 hurdles race was one of the more competitive races of the meet with the top 3 finishers all running a PR and GA top 25 times. Michael Flemingof Oglethorpe County won the race with a PR of 14.14, good enough for a GA top 10 time. Daevonta Ates of Bleckley County and Zayden Cook of Chattooga HS were only separated by .01 seconds with Daevonta gaining the slight edge at 14.53 to 14.54.
Swainsboro teammates Demello Jones and Qindarius Brown swept the top spots running 10.97 and 11.02 respectively while Kaidon Whidby of Jasper County HS was a very close 3rd in 11.05.
Prince Avenue Christian brought home top honors with a time of 1:28.88 holding off Heard County HS and Elbert County HS who finished 2nd and 3rd with times of 1:29.46 and 1:29.93.
With the top 2 boys in the 100, you would expect Swainsboro to be in the mix in the 4x100 and they were, but it was Oglethorpe County who took top honors in 42.48 with Swainsboro finishing 2nd in 42.53.
The boys 400 say the top 3 places all PR and all run under 50.0 seconds. Max Tucker of Mount Pisgah won the event with a time of 48.32 seconds which added 10 points to the eventual team champions point total. High jump champion Jacob Carruthers of Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy finished a close 2nd in 48.32 seconds. Rounding out the top 3 was Joseph Wommack of Darlington School in 49.84 seconds.
The boys 300 hurdles race was PR central with 6 out of the 8 finalists running a PR. Nathan Anderson of Woodville-Tompkins HS was the top finisher in 39.11. While not his PR, it was enough to hold off Nick Anderson of Mount Pisgah Christian School who ran a PR of 39.17 and was the only other athlete under 40.0 seconds.
Luke Churchwell of Bleckley County HS doubled back from his win in the 1600 to also claim top honors in 800 with a time of 1:56.44 which was almost 3 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Thrasher Wilkins of Athens Christian finished 2nd with a PR of 1:59.01 while Haris Flynn of The Mount Vernon School was 3rd in 1:59.45.
Similar to the boys 400, the boys 200 saw PRs from the top 3 finishers. Branden Stroizer of St. Francis took home top honors with a new PR of 21.92. Jacari Huff of Commerce was 2nd in a new PR of 22.28 and Jacob Carruthers of Narrow Arts and Sciences Academy was 3rd in 22.30. If you're keeping track, that is Jacob's 3rd top 3 finish of the meet, adding to his 1st place finish in the high jump and 2nd place finish in the 400.
Luke Churchwell of Bleckley County completed the distance triple crown with his win in the 3200 in a time of 9:28.86. Nathan Smith matched his runner up finish in the 1600 to finish runner up in the 3200 in 9:44.49. Rounding out the top 3 was Mount Pisgah Christian School senior Michael Lynch who was 3rd in 9:54.72 bettering his 4th place finish from the 1600.
Prince Avenue Christian stormed to top honors in the boys 4x400 in a time of 3:24.71 to help propel their team to a top 10 finish. The Mount Vernon School was 2nd in 3:25.10 and Mount Pisgah Christian School was 3rd in 3:26.32 to solidify the team championship.
Girls Team Recap
The top 5 teams in the 1A-I girls' race were what I thought were the top 5 teams coming into the meet but as with the boys, the order was shaken up a bit. Also following in similar fashion to the boys' team race, the girls team race also came down to the 4x400. Athens Christian had a 2-point lead over Oglethorpe County heading in to the 4x400 but Oglethorpe County's 4x400 team did not start.
Athens Christian prevailed over a tough Oglethorpe County team. In the virtual meet, Oglethorpe County had potential point scorers in all event disciplines but that is not how went for them this weekend as they did not end up scoring any points in the distance events. Their strongest event discipline where they brought home 33 points was in the jumps where Denim Goddard led the way, winning both the triple jump and long jump with Kenzie Henderson adding 10 more points in the high jump. And while they got off to a fast start in the field, it was not enough to hold off Athens Christian.
As mentioned in the preview, Athens Christian had point scorers in every event discipline and they managed to bring home points in every discipline but the throws. Ansley Moore led the way in the distance events bringing home 22 huge points. She won the 800 in 2:14.96 and was 3rd in both the 1600 and 3200. Kiera Simmons added points in the 100 and 200 where she finished 4th in both events while Ma'Kaya Ellis held it down in the hurdles where she finished 3rd in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.99. Prior to the running events, the Eagles were helped to a strong start by Savannah Prince and McKinley Smith. Savannah finished 3rd in the high jump and the triple jump while McKinley finished 3rd in the pole vault. Their 4x80 relay added 5 points while their 4x400 relay sealed the deal by finishing 5th.
Girls Individual Event Recap
Denim Goddard of Oglethorpe County HS won the girls long jump with her 3rd attempt jump of 18-3.25 and was only 1 of 2 athletes to clear the 18-0 mark. Finishing in 2nd was Madison Childress of Mount Pisgah Christian School with a mark of 18-1 who led a 2-3 finish for her team with teammate Savannah Simmons finishing 3rd with a jump of 17-6
In the girls' high jump, 5 athletes were still in the competition as the bar went to 5-2 but this height proved to be the separator as only 2 athletes were able to clear 5-2. Kenzie Henderson of Oglethorpe County HS won the girls high jump with a mark of 5-4 and was the only athlete to clear 5-4 in the competition. Haely Umble of Elbert County put the pressure on with her second attempt clearance at 5-2 but was unable to clear 5-4. Her clearance at 5-2 was good enough for 2nd place.
Callaghan Finnegan of Paideia took home the top spot in the girls shot put with a put of 37-4.50 on her second attempt, which was a new PR. Journi Harris of Lamar County HS also had a PR mark of 36-2.50 which helped her to a 2nd place finish. Teammates Maddie Denney and Jayden Boykin of Heard County HS finished 3rd and 4th while both reaching marks of 35-8.
Marika Glaze of Elbert County HS won the title on her first attempt with a mark of 114-6 nut it was her third attempt throw of 121-8 that was her furthest of the competition. Finishing in 2nd was Jayda Jordan of Claxton HS at 111-4. The battle for 4th was close between Marai Bell of Mount Bethel Christian and Maddie Denney of Heard County who were separated by only 1 inch, both throwing PRs of 107-5 and 107-4.
The girls pole vault saw the top 3 spots all filled with freshman! This event will be one to watch in future years. Adair Carlin however, was the class of the field, easily winning with a jump of 12-1. She entered the competition only after all of the other competitors had been knocked out. Her opening height clearance of 10-6 on her first attempt was enough for the win but she moved the bar up after that to 11-9 and then 12-1 where she eventually had her 3 misses at 12-4.25. Camden Thomas of Commerce finished 2nd with a vault of 10-0 while McKinley Smith of Athens Christian and Kallee Crockett of Heard County were 3rd and 4th after both clearing 9-6.
Denim Goddard of Oglethorpe County followed up her long jump state title with another state title in the triple jump reaching a PR mark of 38-2.50 which bested the field by almost 2 feet. Trinity Lavant of Claxton HS was 2nd at 36-6.25 while Madison Childress of Mount Pisgah Christian School finished 3rd in 36-2.25.
4x800 Distance powerhouse Bleckley County stormed to victory in the girls 4x800 by almost 16 second running 9:44.83. Armuchee HS was 2nd in 10:00.71. The battle for 3rd was super close with 3rd and 4th only being separated by .13 seconds with Paideia getting the advantage over Athens Christian at 10:18.63 to 10:18.86.
Freshman phenom Ella Gibbs of Bleckley County won her first state title of her HS track career in the 1600 with a winning time of 5:00.36. Behind her was Marissa Kimple of Armuchee in 2nd with a new PR of 5:09.47 and Ansley Moore of Athens Christian in a new PR of 5:12.06.
The girls 100 hurdles saw the top 4 finishers all run a new PR. Kennedy Reynolds of The Mount Vernon School brought home top honors in a time of 15.16, Natania Nasieku of Mount Pisgah Christian School and Ma'Kaya Ellis of Athens Christian were 2nd and 3rd running 15.92 and 15.99 respectively and were the only other athletes to run under 16.0 seconds.
As predicted, Audrey Vandagriff of Prince Avenue Christian School stormed to the individual state title in the girls 100m with a time of 12.13. Madison Childress of Mount Pisgah Christian School was 2nd in a time of 12.37 to add to her 2nd place finish in the long jump and 3rd place finish in the triple jump. Olivia Jackson of Screven County rounded out the top 3 in a time of 12.43 seconds.
Dublin stormed to victory in a time of 1:43.35 ahead of Prince Avenue Christian who was 2nd in 1:46.80 and Lamar County HS who was 3rd in 1:47.38. This event proved to be a big decider in the team title race as Oglethorpe County was DQ'd after finishing 2nd in the race.
With 3 of the same legs from the 4x200, Dublin brought home the state title in the 4x100 in a photo finish with Mount Pisgah Christian School finishing in second. The two teams were separated by .005 seconds - 49.530 to 49.535. Woodville-Tompkins HS was the 3rd place finisher in 49.93 and the only other team under 50.0 seconds.
Jada Hyman of Social Circle HS and JaKara Tobler of Jasper County HS battled to the line in the girls 400 with Jada coming out on top with a time of 57.68 compared to JaKara's 58.41. Both times were good enough for a PR for both athletes. Julianne Shirley of Tallulah Falls finished 3rd in 59.75 and was the only other athlete under 1:00.
Just like in the 100 hurdles, the 300 hurdles saw PRs galore with 6 of the 8 finalists running a new PR. Kennedy Reynolds of the Mount Vernon School followed up her win in the 100 hurdles with a win in the 300 hurdles running 44.02 which was over 1 second ahead of second place. Naomi Hacket of Atlanta International School was 2nd in 45.14 and A'shayla James of Temple HS was 3rd in 45.24.
Ella Gibbs of Bleckley County was attempting the distance triple crown, but this race proved to be the race that held her from that. Ansley Moore of Athens Christian brought home the top honors with a new PR of 2:14.96 while Ella finished 2nd in 2:17.36. These 2 are both freshmen so this will not be the last time we see these two go at it for a state title. Shelby Green of Armuchee finished 3rd in a PR of 2:22.80 with Tristen Crosby of Bleckley County finishing in 4th in a new PR of 2:23.24 to give Bleckley County 2 in the top 4.
Audrey Vandagriff of Prince Avenue Christian School followed up her state title in the 100 with a state title in the 200 with a new PR of 24.98. She led a field of finalists where 6 out of the 8 athletes ran a PR. Olivia Jackson of Screven County was 2nd in a time of 25.25 to improve upon her 3rd place finish in the 100. 400m champion Jada Hyman of Social Circle finished 3rd in a time of 25.33.
Ella Gibbs of Bleckley County won easily in 11:03.19 with Marissa Kimple taking 2nd in 11:25.79 to go with her 2nd place finish in the 1600. Ansley Moore of Athens Christian ended her busy weekend by finishing 3rd in the 3200 in 11:43.88 after finishing 3rd in the 1600 and winning the 800.
4x400The girls from Tallulah Falls dominated the girls 4x400 winning by almost 5 seconds with a time of 4:07.70. The battle for 2nd was very close as 4 teams were separated by 2 seconds. Commerce HS secured the 2nd place spot with a time of 4:12.11 with Dublin HS in 3rd at 4:13.48, Atlanta International School in 4th at 4:13.86 and Athens Christian in 5th at 4:14.48.