Southwest Dekalb won the boys team title again thanks in large part to Isaiah Taylor's new US #1 time in the 300m hurdles
GHSA 4A State Meet Recap
Westminster's girls won just one track and field state title between 2001 and 2021, despite numerous close calls. However, in the past few years the program has developed to become one of the best in the state with back-to-back titles. Despite moving up from 3A to 4A, Westminster scored by far the most points of any boys' or girls' team at state this year from any classification. The Wildcats scored 124 points in total, and the outcome was never in doubt after accumulating 55 points from field events. Senior Kelsey Chambers finished first in the triple jump, second in the long jump, and tied for sixth in the high jump. Chambers's long jump performance was beaten only by teammate Grace Smith, and junior teammate Ryan McFadden completed the 1-2-3 sweep in the long jump. Madison Townsend did not have her best vault of the season, but it was still enough to win the meet, and Genae Horst and Sabrina Farley-Allen also scored in the event. Janine Horst also picked up another two points in the high jump. Westminster continued pouring on the points on the track on Saturday. Smith, the long jump champion, also won the 100m and 300m hurdles, as well as second in the 100. Her 38 individual points would have ranked her sixth as a team! Junior Camille Quarterman finished second in the 400 with a 55.80 and eighth in the 200. Palmer Walstad wasn't able to add another state championship in the distance events, but she still finished second in the 3200 and 1600 with some impressive times, as well as fourth in the 800. Teammate Lucy Johnson also scored in the 800. Despite Chambers and Smith not running any relays, the Wildcats still scored in the 4x100 and 4x200, and they finished third in the 4x800. Somewhat amazingly, the only track event Westminster did not score in was the 4x400.
Druid Hills scored in only a few events, but they made the absolute most out of their chances to finish second with 64 points. Junior Sanaa Frederick, a phenom in the sprints, set two GA all-time top 10 marks. In the 100, Sanaa ran 11.41 for GA #6 all-time for a perfect undefeated season. In the 200, she finished in 23.39, the #8 performance all-time in the state. She only won that race by 0.02 seconds over twin sister Sole Frederick, who ran the #10 all-time mark. Sole also ran the 400, where she finished third with a 56.56. Fellow junior Jadyn Bolden won the 400 in 55.27 over Sole Frederick and Westminster's Quarterman. These athletes contributed to some amazing relay teams. The 4x100 squad were champions in this year's GA #3 team, and the 4x400 squad was GA #5 and state champions as well. That's how the Red Devils scored 64 points from 5 events, averaging 12.8 points per event!
Pace Academy finished third on the strength of their distance runners. Junior Caroline Hood won her second straight 1600 and 3200 titles by a wide margin, setting the GA #1 time in the 1600 with a 4:53.65 (and she had previously set the 3200 GA #1 time in April). Freshman Harriet Blaha finished fourth in the 3200 and seventh in the 1600. Zahara Bernal finished 5th in the 3200, and Olivia Resnick finished the distance onslaught by securing sixth in the 800. These distance runners set the GA #3 4x800 performance for the win as well. Brooke Fung Chung scored 10 points between the high jump and long jump to close out the scoring for the Knights.
Stockbridge finished in a strong fourth place. They were led by junior Daynejia Atkins, who finished second in both throwing events thanks to two season best throws. Fellow junior Quenteria Birts finished third in the 800 and fifth in the 400 as well. Stockbridge's 4x200 team took the victory, and they finished second in the 4x400. The rest of the podium teams included Stephenson in fifth, North Hall in sixth, North Oconee in seventh, and Griffin in eighth.
Other individual state champions included North Hall junior Abi Moore in the 800, who ran a PR of 2:15.75 for the win. Griffin's Zy Thompson won the high jump with a 5' 6" clearance, completing an undefeated season in the event. Avah Morrison of Heritage HS won the discus with a new PR, which she needed to hold off Stockbridge's Atkins. Finally, the shot put was won by senior MaKayla Register of West Laurens, marking her second straight title in the shot put. In fact, dating back to 2021, Register has competed in three seasons and only failed to win two meets in that event.
The 4A boys' team battle was one of the closest three-team competitions of the weekend. All three top teams had a shot at winning heading into in the final event. Ultimately, Southwest DeKalb took home their second straight track and field title over Starr's Mill and Westminster. SWD had a deep hole to dig themselves out of on Saturday, as they entered the final day with just four points from their 4x800 team. They definitely came prepared to race though, scoring 77 points across seven events on Saturday. The Panthers were led by brothers Isaiah and Xzaviah Taylor, sons of USA Olympic hurdler Angelo Taylor. Isaiah and Xzaviah went 1-2 in the 300m hurdles. Isaiah Taylor's time of 35.94 would place him #3 all-time in GA, but he actually had run even faster last season. Xzaviah topped the rest of the 300m hurdles field by a second for 8 more points. Isaiah also won the 110m hurdles with an amazing time of 13.70, tied for the fastest time in GA this year. Xzaviah also competed in the 400, where he finished third in a PR time of 47.24. Teammate Therrian Alexander III secured the victory in the 400 in 46.84, the GA #7 time of the season. Senior Derrick Eskridge also picked up a key five points in the 800 which would end up being very valuable later. Thanks to these star athletes, the Panthers were nearly unbeatable in the shorter relays, finishing second in the 4x100 and first in the 4x200 for fourth place on the all-time GA list. Finally, in the 4x400, Southwest Dekalb needed to outscore Starr's Mill by at least four points, and they definitely delivered with the second-fastest 4x400 ever in GA in 3:10.55 for the US #1 mark of the season. Vital relay members not in individual events included Taylor Anderson and Xavier Turner
Starr's Mill put forth a valiant effort and exceeded expectations in the meet, but they fell just short in their quest for their school's first track and field title. The Starr's Mill Panthers had a large early lead thanks to field event and distance athletes. Senior Tito Alofe was the highest individual scorer of the boys' meet, as he finished first in the triple and high jumps, as well as second in the long jump. Alofe's mark in the triple jump was 48 '5", marking the GA #2 time of the year and #35 mark nationally. Senior Josh Phifer won the discus throw, and teammates Jared Moore and Greigh Joseph finished 2-3 in the shot put. Moore's throw of 56' 9.5" was GA #4 in the event. Blake Necessary scored 2.5 points in the pole vault, and Starr's Mill finished second in the 4x800 to help boost their pre-Saturday total to over 60 points. The Fayetteville Panthers didn't have as much firepower in the track events, though their distance runners brought home enough points to kep them in second place. Denver Oates scored in the 800 and 1600, Ethan Aguilera-Martin finished fifth in the 800, and Grant Dougher added two more points in the 3200.
Westminster was looking to defend its title from 3A last season, but enough events didn't go their way to keep them in third place, still with a very respectable 72.5 points. Early on, junior Patrick Walsh had a great vault of 12' 6" to score 4.5 points, and fellow junior Phillips Moore rebounded from a tough discus event to win the shot put in 58' 9.5", good enough for a GA #1 throw. The Wildcats also won the 4x800 in 8 minutes on the dot. Though Westminster didn't have any individual track champions, they still piled up a lot of points. Joseph Jacquot and Esfan Daya finished 4-5 in both the 1600 and 3200 for a combined 18 points. In the 800, junior Willem Mandel and freshman Rohan Gazula both ran 1:54 for second and third. Senior William Gituku finished fifth in the 200 and second in the 400, and he helped Westminster finish in fifth place in the 4x400.
After Westminster, there was a drop-off to fourth place, which was won by Whitewater despite not finishing first in any event. Braeden Ofosu-Kwarteng finished fourth in the long jump and in the 400. Fellow senior Joe Kennedy scored in the 100, 200, and 400. Gabriel Best had an excellent state meet for third in the 1600 and 3200, and Ivan Agyeman added four more points in the shot put. Just two points behind Whitewater were Fayette County and Stephenson tied for fifth. Fayette County was led by Justin Warner's surprising victory in the 800 in 1:54.18. They also had a top-four relay in the 4x100, 4x400, and 4x800. Stephenson was led by Jace Coleman, who finished second in the 100 and 200 in two GA top-12 times. Holy Innocents' (31 points) and Westover (28.5) rounded out the podium teams.
Miller Grove's Ali Dargan took the sprints by storm, running a 10.36 in the 100 and a 20.86 in the 200. That's an all-time top 10 time in GA in both events, and Dargan will be back for more next season. It appears that Dargan transferred from Southwest DeKalb last year, so he's going to try to help his new team win the title next year. The 1600 and 3200 were two barnburner events. East Forsyth's Alex Arrambide took the 3200 with a monster final 800 (split about 2:00) to beat Holy Innocents' Joe Sapone by three seconds. Arrambide also showed out in the 1600 with a GA all-time #6 and US #9 time of 4:06.16 -- but he still finished two seconds behind Sapone, who tore up the track with a 4:04.27 for US #4 and GA all-time #3, including the fastest time by a GA runner in 16 years. Isaiah Rayner of Westover won the long jump as the only athlete of the day to beat Alofe, and he also finished second in the triple jump. Central's Owen Wilkinson completed an incredible freshman campaign with a state title in the pole vault, marking a new PR of 14' 6" in the process. It will be exciting to see what's in store for this young athlete in the coming years!