Athens Academy got some big points in the Pole Vault to help clinch the boys team title in class 2A
GHSA 2A State Meet Recap
In the state meet preview, I predicted that the 2A girls' team battle would be a tight one between Athens Academy and Landmark Christian, and I purposefully did not declare a favorite for the meet. That stance was justified as Athens Academy led Landmark by just 4.5 points heading into the 4x400, with both teams running in the finals. Landmark was the favorite, and they certainly fulfilled that billing by running a blistering 3:52.24 to win. Athens needed at least third place to remain on top, but they ended up seventh, giving Landmark the tight, 3.5-point victory and back-to-back titles, including their first ever title in 2A.
The Landmark Christian War Eagles did almost all of their damage on the track, scoring only 3.5 points in field events (thanks to Sarah Evans Thorne in the pole vault). This put the War Eagles in a hole early on, but they vacuumed up points on Saturday. Taylor Gullatte won the 200 and was second in the 100 with two GA top-12 times, picking up a key 18 points. Fellow sophomore Malia Campbell finished third in the 200 and outclassed the competition in the 400 with another GA top-12 time. Shari Brown, yet another sophomore for Landmark Christian, picked up eight key points in the 1600 to keep her team in the hunt on Friday, and then she scored seven points across the 800 and 3200 on Saturday. However, it was the relays that really brought Landmark Christian to the top, as they finished in the top three in all four relay events. The War Eagles won the 4x100, finished a narrow second in the 4x200, and maintained third in the 4x800 before their dramatic 4x400 finish. Besides the aforementioned athletes, key relay members included MiAngel Allrich, Naia Carter, and Cristiana Chachere.
Athens Academy certainly gave their best effort at the state meet, and their 83 points is certainly nothing to sneeze at. The Spartans had an early lead over the War Eagles thanks to some impressive field event athletes. Sophomore Veronika Babbitt finished second in the shot put and third in the discus with two outstanding season best throws. Freshman Josie Collins won the high jump on tiebreaks with a leap of 5' 4", as well as finishing fifth in the 200. However, it was the distance runners for Athens Academy that did the bulk of the point-scoring, as the Spartans scored three athletes in all three distance events. As far as I know, that's a first for any team in Georgia! Sophomore Maya Davis led the way in all three events, securing fourth in the 3200, second in the 800, and a dominating first in 5:04.73 in the 1600. Senior Sarah Harrison contributed 14 points across the three events, and sophomore Molly Smith brought an extra six points evenly distributed across the three distance events as well. As you might expect, Athens Academy convincingly won the 4x800 too, and that accounts for all of their points before their 4x400.
The race for third place was won by Appling County, who did most of their damage in the jumps and relays. India Rooks finished second in the triple jump by the slimmest of margins, and also added a few more points in the long jump. Senior Teandra Clemons scored in the top three in the high jump and long jump. Senior Cadence Cray also finished third in the 100. Clemons and Cray joined their teammates in the 4x100, where the squad was edged by Landmark, and in the 4x200, where Appling County pulled out the victory by 0.04 seconds.
Drew Charter rose above the fray for fourth place primarily thanks to sophomore sensation Madeline Cooper. Cooper ran a GA #5 time in the 100m hurdles to win by over 1.5 seconds, and she showed out again in the 100 with a fantastic 11.71 to get first place. Only Gullatte was able to overcome Cooper in the 200 finals, but Cooper finished second to finish with 28 individual points as 2A girls' highest individual scorer. The rest of the podium was very tightly bunched as four teams finished within 2.5 points to separate fifth through eighth places. Towers finished fifth with 31.5, Savannah Arts followed with 31, and Model and Elite Scholars Academy tied for seventh with 29 points each.
Many of the top individuals have already been mentioned, but I want to highlight a few more who deserve recognition. Providence Christian senior Ellison Chadwick competed in four individual events and scored in all of them. She finished fifth in the 100 and eighth in the 200, but she was only getting started. Chadwick finished second in 57.12 in the 400 to Landmark's Campbell, and she won the long jump by 1.5 feet with a leap of 19' 5.25", a GA top-5 time (but still not her PB). In the 800, Savannah Arts Academy's Lyric Olson won her second-straight championship with a 2:09.60, just missing her PR of 2:09.49 from last year. That time puts her fourth in GA this year and #29 in the nation. In the 3200, Olson's teammate Ava Coffey, who had perhaps gone overlooked all season, ran a PB of 11:38.15 to win and complete an undefeated season in that event. Speaking of PBs and undefeated seasons, Jeff Davis junior Laisha Hernandez ran a lightning-quick 44.92 in the 300m hurdles to run away with the victory by nearly three seconds. The triple jump was won by Nashari Edwards of Towers, topping Appling County's Rook by half an inch. The pole vault crown deservedly went to Sophie Scruggs of Pierce County, who also had an undefeated season. Finally, Banks County senior Shelby Speed took the title in the shot put and the discus by large margins in both. Speed's discus throw of 153' 1" puts her #7 all-time in GA and #29 in the nation this year.
Like the 2A girls' team battle, the clear top two teams on the boys' side were Landmark Christian and Athens Academy. Just like the girls' race, the team championship came down to the wire, with both teams having a chance to win in the 4x400. Ultimately, Athens Academy maintained their slim lead on Landmark to capture their first boys' track and field team title. The final scores were Athens Academy 89.5, Landmark Christian 86.5.
The Spartans entered Saturday with a lead over Landmark Christian thanks to their distance runners and pole vaulters. The 1600, held on Friday, featured three scorers for Athens Academy including Jackson Scruggs (2nd, ran 4:22), Will DeLoach (3rd), and Robbie Dillon (7th). The squad also finished first (over Landmark, who was second) in the 4x800. They also pulled 14.5 points from the pole vault with Hoke Lucas, Collin Edge, and Charlie Vaughn all vaulting at least 12 feet. On Saturday, Athens Academy continued their assault in the distance events, with DeLoach and Scruggs finishing third and fourth in the 800 with a pair of 1:58s. Scruggs, Dillon, and DeLoach all scored in the 3200 as well, which ultimately pushed Athens over Landmark to stay just before the 4x400. However, the Spartans received key contributions from non-distance runners too. Austin McGee finished second in the 100 and seventh in the 200, and hurdler Ryland Marley scored four points in the 300mH. The team had enough depth to score in the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400 in addition to their 4x800 victory.
Landmark brought their A-game to the state meet and could very well have pulled off the victory with some tiny slip-ups from Athens Academy. Landmark's boys scored exactly as many points as their girls, and they outscored their girls in the field events. The War Eagles scored in the long jump (with Isaac Smith and Jaxson Campbell), pole vault (Sean Alleyne), and discus (Chase Story), although none of their athletes finished higher than fifth in any of those events. Junior London Costen was the top individual scorer for Landmark Christian, sweeping the 400 and 800. Costen won the 400 by a full second, and he secured a massive upset in the 800 over Model senior Simon Schabort. Costen's time of 1:55.17 was a personal best of over four seconds from his previous best time, which was set last season! Jaxson Campbell scored in both the 100 and 200 in addition to the long jump, and junior Righton Rivers joined Costen in scoring in the 800. Another large chunk of points came in the hurdles with freshman standout Jamari Rousseau securing fifth in the 110m hurdles and third in the 300m version. Ian Tukes finished second in the 300mH as well. Like their girls' team, Landmark finished in the top four of every relay, but it still wasn't enough to overtake Athens Academy.
In third place was Model, which was led by the 2A boys' individual top scorer Simon Schabort. Schabort had completed the distance triple crown last season, and he was oh-so-close to repeating that feat in 2023. Schabort won the 1600 in a dominant time of 4:13.66 (GA #7 time this season). Schabort also won the 3200 by a narrower margin over Scruggs. However, in the 800, Schabort was edged out by 0.1 seconds by Costen. He still finished in second which brought his total to 28 points. Model was also helped by senior Daniel Jolly's third-place finish in the 100 and junior Jeremias Heard's third-place finish in both the shot put and the discus throw.
Fannin County managed to eke out fourth place, at the front of a group of five teams that scored between 38 and 42 points. They were led by Corbin Davenport and Tyler Stevenson, who finished 1-2 in the pole vault at 13' 6". Senior Matthew Crowder also scored seven points between the discus and shot put, senior Grayson Willis had an amazing race for second in the 110mH, and junior Zechariah Prater scored in the top five in the 1600 and 3200. The final podium teams included Drew Charter (41 points), Appling County (40 points), and Eagle's Landing and Vidalia (38 points each).
We had a surprise winner in the 100 as Washington freshman Kameran Warren ran 10.75 into a headwind for the victory. In the 200, Eagle's Landing senior Jacque Holley ran a great race for the win. Another surprise winner prevailed in the 100m hurdles with Vidalia's Nahvie Berry, who ran a big PB for the win. Pierce County senior Jacquez won the 300m hurdles to cap an undefeated season in the event and finally break through after two straight runner-up finishes at state in '21 and '22. Jordan HS sophomore Xayden Hunt won the long jump with a 22' 4.5" leap, and Vidalia senior Brandon Beasley won the triple jump in 46' 4". Judging from the wind readings, it was quite gusty at McEachern on Thursday which might have impacted some results. The high jump was maybe the most exciting event of the meet, with the top five athletes all maxing out at 6' 4", but ultimately DeVein Saunders of Brantley County prevailed on tiebreaks. Last but certainly not least, we had a double winner in the throws, just like in the girls' meet. In this case, Eagle's Landing senior DJ Chester took both events. In the discus, Chester threw a GA 2023 #1 mark of 174' 10" to win against great competition, and his 58' 8" throw was a GA #2-ranked performance in the shot put.