Langston Hughes showed up and got the job done in Rome this weekend. This is the first team title in school history for the panthers!
GHSA 6A 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
As predicted, the boys of Langston Hughes showed up this weekend and got the job done! Langston Hughes bested a super strong 6A field to come out on top as 6A state champions. They did not reach the projected 70-point total which I think is a testament to the depth and competition in 6A.
Langston Hughes only scored 8 points in the field events with Malachi Yehudah finishing 2nd in the high jump but as expected, the Langston Hughes sprinters came to run and Maurice Gleaton led the way. He did not score in his 3 individual events as he did not make it out of prelims in the 400 but victory in the 200 and runner up finish in the 100 helped push his team to victory. He ran a state record of 10.14 in the 100 prelims but was bested by Eric Singleton of Alexander in the finals. He came back and got revenge in the 200, winning in 20.81. Jaden Barnes added points in the 100 with a 6th place finish while Dmitry Wells held it down in the hurdles finishing 8th in the 110 hurdles and 2nd in the 300 hurdles. Dorian Page chipped in 5 points with a 4th place finish in the 200 while their 4x100 relay finished 1st and their 4x400 relay finished 3rd. The team title race was sealed up prior to the 4x400 as no team who had a 4x400 team in the finals was within striking distance. North Atlanta was within 2 points but without a 4x400 no one could catch Langston Hughes.
The boys of North Atlanta ran to their fullest potential this weekend. I had them scoring 46.5 points and they ended up scoring 51 which was good enough for 2nd place. Again, I think this is a testament to the depth and competition in 6A where points were separated by the smallest of margins. North Atlanta used a balanced approach in the sprints, relays and distance events to finish runner up right ahead of Etowah. Etowah jumped out to a big lead after scoring 23.5 points in the field events and then used relays and distance athletes to hold on for 3rd. Shiloh held on to the final podium spot edging out Veterans HS by 1 point on the back of their outstanding hurdle program.
Boys Individual Event Recap
Zane Gibson of Etowah has been one of the top vaulters in the state and he ended his year on top. The boys 6A pole vault might have been the most competitive of all classifications with the top 4 athletes all clearing 15-0. Zane was the only athlete to clear 15-6, which ended up being the deciding factor. Brandon Peeples of Houston County, Grayson Venezia of Creekview and Ryan Grachen of Lassiter all cleared 15-0 with misses separating them out in 2nd through 4th place.
Nicolas Crosswhite of New Manchester leapt to a US top 25 mark of 49-2 on his 6th and final attempt to bring home the win this weekend. Ethan Crite of Roswell was close behind with a mark of 48-1.50 until Nicolas broke the 49-0 barrier right at the end.
Crosswhite doubled back to take his 2nd victory of the meet in the boy's long jump. This competition was a lot closer as his margin of victory was only 1 inch. His first attempt of 23-5 proved to be enough to hold of Adams Hopkins of Thomas County Central HS who had a second attempt mark of 23-4. Luke Stradley of Etowah finished 3rd in 22-7. This was his second of 3 medals of the day as he also scored in the triple jump and in the high jump.
The 6A boys high jump might be my vote for competition of the meet. It took a jump of 6-4 to score and the top 3 athletes all jumped 6-8 or higher. Riyon Rankin of Brunswick was the favorite coming in and he did not disappoint. Riyon won the event with a PR and US #1 jump of 7-3.75. This also ranks him 3rd all time in the state. Malachi Yehudah of Langston Hughes was 2nd in 6-10 and Nicolas Crosswhite, who was also the long and triple jump champion, was 3rd at 6-8.
Allatoona junior Tahir Hines has been dominant all season and this weekend was no different. -He won the shot put with a PR put of 57-1 on his 6th and final attempt. He had already won the event on his 5th attempt at 56-5 but went for it one more time and was rewarded with a PR. Behind him in 2nd, also with a PR put was Brad Chosewood of Habersham Central HS at 55-3.
Hines followed up his shot-put victory with another one in the discus. His mark of 168-4 bested the field by almost 10 feet. Runner up was senior Timothy Baltimore of Rome HS who threw a PR of 159-10 to propel him to the runner up spot on his last and final throw not only of the competition but of his high school career. This must have been an awesome moment to do this at his home venue as Rome was the host for the 6A state meet.
The boys 4x800 was very competitive with the top 6 teams all breaking the elusive 8:00 mark and the top 3 teams all below the state meet record set 2 years ago by Alexander. It was the boys from Etowah that came out on top with a time of 7:53.46, establishing the new state meet record! Marist finished 2nd in 7:55.01 with Roswell in 3rd at 7:57.53.
Tommy Latham of Marist won the 3200 in win a dramatic come from behind victory catching Gainesville's Conner Proffit down the home stretch. Tommy had a 2 second gap to make up and he did so, closing in 1:00.30. Conner did hold on for 2nd and a PR of 9:14.42. Hometown favorite Tucker Wright of Rome HS grabbed the 3rd spot in 9:26.71.
This is where Shiloh began its push up the leaderboard. Shiloh teammates George Benjamin and Bryce Southerland finished 1-2 running 13.82 and 14.12 respectively. Kalib Branch of Lovejoy was a very close 3rd in 14.15.
I was not in Rome for this race, but I can picture what the stadium must have been like for this must-see race. I imagine a scenario where it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop and all eyes were on the track, that is until the gun went off and the cheering ensued. After dropping a new state record of 10.14 in the prelims, Maurice Gleaton of Langston Hughes might have been the heavy favorite had he not been up against Eric Singleton of Alexander. Prior to this race, they had gone head-to-head 3 other times this season with Eric having the advantage 2-1. And it was Eric who broke the tape first in a photo finish 10.35 to 10.37 to break the state meet record. Jaylen Scott of Mundy's Mill grabbed 3rd in 10.58 while Carl Murray of North Atlanta finished 4th in 10.63.
The addition of the 4x200 has made things interesting as you never know which relays teams will focus on. The boys of North Atlanta chose to focus on the 4x200 and it paid off big with a state title and new state meet record of 1:25.84. Veterans HS finished 2nd in 1"26.49 with Lovejoy in 3rd at 1:26.65.
Latham of Marist added another gold medal to his weekend tally winning the 1600 in 4:16.55. And to one up his 1:00.30 last lap from the 3200 the night before, he closes this victory out in a 55.71 to hold off a charging John Jessup of Gainesville who closed in a 57.60. Andrew Balogh of Etowah grabbed the 3rd spot with a time of 4:18.32 and a last lap of 57.88. I do not recall many races in our state where we have 3 athletes close under 1:00. While the times were not as fast as they probably could be, the race definitely lived up to the hype.
As expected, the Langston Hughes boys loaded up the 4x100 and it resulted in a state title and a new state meet record of 40.55. North Atlanta followed up the 4x200 victory with a runner up finish in 41.80 which helped moved the team up the leaderboard to an eventual 2nd place team finish.
Eric Singleton followed up his 100 state title with a 400 state title running 46.30 breaking Westlake's Sidi Njie's state record from last year (although Sidi bettered this mark and the overall state record in the 7A meet). Behind Eric was Newnan's Trey Geter who finished 2nd in a new PR of 47.54. Vincent Quilici worked to defend his home track running a PR of 48.36 which was good enough for 3rd.
The boys 300 hurdles race was a race to watch with the top 4 places all under 39 seconds! Shawn Jarrett of Mundy's Mill HS won the event in 37.61 which is a new PR and a top 50 US time. Dmitry Wells of Langston Hughes came back with a vengeance after finishing 8th in the 110 hurdles to finish 2nd in the 300 hurdles with a new PR of 38.06. 110 hurdle champion George Benjamin of Shiloh finished in 3rd at 38.46. One thing to note about this race is all 8 finalists were seniors so we will see a completely different race at next year's state meet!
To me this was a unique race in that all 3 of the top finishers ran a negative split which shows that no one really wanted to take the pace that first lap. Andrew Balogh of Etowah capped off a stellar high school campaign in fashion, winning a state title closing in 56.91 after going out in 57.61. Kamren Kennedy of Veterans ran a PR of 1:55.26 to finish 2nd and bring home 8 big points to help his team get on the podium. John Jessup of Gainesville followed up his runner up finish in the 1600 with a 3rd place finish in the 800.
If the 100 was the must watch race of the day, the 200 had to be a close second. Again, we got to see Maurice Gleaton and Eric Singleton go head-to-head with Maurice breaking the tape first in 20.81 compared to Eric's 20.90. Maurice's 20.81 was also a new state meet record. Carl Murray used the momentum from his 4th place finish in the 100 to finish 3rd in the 200 in a new PR of 21.47.
Rockdale County boys won the 4x400 with a photo finish at the line with Veterans HS and Langston Hughes, all running 3:18.44-3:18.64. The lean for Veterans proved valuable as it pushed them into a team tie for 3rd place, securing a team trophy. Langston Hughes was just running for bragging rights as they already had the state title wrapped up, but I once had a coach tell me that you can tell a lot about a track team by the performance of the 4x400. You don't need a great 4x400 team to win a state title but many teams that win a state title have a good 4x400 team.
I thought the girls team race would come down to a Woodward Academy and Alexander battle and that is what we got. Woodward Academy pulled away dominating in the sprints, hurdles and relays. They only came out of field events with 5 points but when you have 3 relay teams that all win, then you are going to be a force to be reckoned with on finals day. Peyton Funderburk finished 6th in the triple jump while Jensen Warnick finished 7th in the pole vault to close out their scoring on day 1. But as previously mentioned, their 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 teams all took home 1st place, scoring 30 huge points. Chelsea Williams added 16 points finishing 2nd in both the 100 and 200 while Sydney Glee added 11 points after finishing 3rd in the 200 and 4th in the 400. Kenyah Conner brought home 8 points with her runner up finish in the 800 and Olivia Powell held it down in the hurdles after winning both the 100 and 300 hurdles, scoring 20 points.
For Alexander to lose Adaejah Hodge and still be in the state title mix is a testament to Coach Robinson and his staff the work they do year in and year out. I think I saw on social media that this is their 7th year in a row on the podium as a team. One year of success can be a lucky year. 7 years in a row shows that something (a lot of things) are going well over in Douglasville. Losing the defending 6A 100 and 200 state champion would be a big blow to any program but they kept the titles in house with Victoria Teasley winning both in times of 11.73 and 24.04. Courtney Adams added points in the 800 while Aseye Srigboh added points in the 300 hurdles. The 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams all scored points and Alisa Gordon brought home 2 state titles in the long and triple jump. This team is as good as any. They just had to go up against another very talented Woodward Academy team.
Marist and Alpharetta tied for the final podium spots, and they accomplished this in 2 different ways. Marist relied on their strong distance and jumps program while Alpharetta turned to the sprints and the throws. Just showing that there is more than one way to succeed in our sport, and the real art of coaching is finding the best way to maximize the talent that you have.
Girls Individual Event Recap
Skylar Soli of Douglas County won the meet on her first attempt with a mark of 143-2, which was over 10 feet better than the next closest competitor. She passed on her 3rd and 4th attempt and then came back to extend her lead on her 4th attempt with a mark of 144-9. Neely Rogan of Apalachee earned a silver mdeal with a mark of 133-0 and Anderson Bowe moved up to the bronze medal position on her 6th and final attempt with a mark of 132-8.
Keira Hight came in to the meet as one of the favorites and ended the day on the top of the podium with a winning vault of 12-0. Ansley Cho of Marist, Charlotte Brown of North Atlanta and Julia Acker of Pope were the other competitors remaining when the bar went to 11-0. Ansley cleared 11-0 on her final attempt to push the bar to 11-6, which proved to be the height that decided the title with Keira clearing it on her first attempt and Ansley not able to clear.
The triple jump proved to be a crucial event to Alexander's title hopes as they swept the top 2 spots. Alisa Gordon won the event with a 5th round mark of 41-9.50 while teammate Aseye Srigboh's second round mark of 39-11.50 was good enough to hold on for second. Jailah Lee of Veterans finished in 3rd with a PR mark of 39-4.75 which rounded out the top 3 who all PR'd at the meet.
The girls' long jump was a great competition with the top 5 competitors all jumping 18-0 or better. Alisa Gordon of Alexander added another state title to her resume, winning the long jump with a mark of 18-10.25. Jailah Lee of Veterans improved upon her 3rd place finish in the triple jump to finish 2nd in the long jump with a mark of 18-2.50. Gabby Key of Pope grabbed the bronze medal with a jump of 18-2. Rounding out the other jumpers over 18-0 were Paris Ivey of Grovetown at 18-0.50 and Gabrielle Crane of Etowah at 18-0.
The girls' high jump competition was close with 3 jumpers still remaining as the bar went to 5-6 but it was Ashari Pearson of New Manchester HS who was able to out last the competition. Queens Adams of Jonesboro HS and Amrit Rehal of Johns Creek HS were the only other jumpers to clear 5-4 but they were unable to clear 5-6. Being the only athlete left in the competition, Ashari moved the bar to 5-7 to snag a new PR.
The girls' shot-put competition was a close one! Kyndal McKinney of Woodstock won the event on her 2nd round put of 44-6. The battle for second place is where it got close as each competitor was separated by only 1 inch. Maya Steines of Alpharetta was sitting in 4th place heading into the last round. But it was on her 6th and final attempt where she reached a mark of 43-1 to jump into 2nd place and grab a new PR. Skylar Soli of Douglas County finished 3rd with a mark of 43-0 to go along with her state title in the discus from earlier in the day.
The girls from St. Pius won a close battle with the girls from Marist pulling away in a new state meet record of 9:21.48. This time is also good enough for #7 all time in the state. Marist was 2nd in 9:29.70 and North Atlanta held on for the 3rd spot taking down Gainesville 9:37.98 to 9:38.05.
The girls 6A 3200 was the most competitive 3200 of all classification and possibly one of the most competitive events of the state meet. With the recent GHSA reclassification, we see a mix of traditional 6A distance powers combined with the private schools like Marist, St. Pius and Blessed Trinity that are also known for their strong distance programs. This race saw 4 girls go under 11:00 with the 5th place finisher running 11:00. Hannah Schemmel of St. Pius is healthy once again and used a 1:13.37 last lap to claim the title in 10:32.51 which gave her a 12 second margin of victory. The more impressive thing about this is her margin of victory was made all in the last lap. Katelynn Dollar of Creekview held on for 2nd place running 10:44.56 with Claire Shelton of Dunwoody finishing 3rd in 10:52.16. London Ray of Blessed Trinity broke 11:00 for a new PR of 10:53.45 to finish 4th while Ruby Little of Marist ran 11:00.91 to finish 5th.
The girls 100 hurdle race saw 4 of the top 5 girls all run a PR. Olivia Powell of Woodward Academy ran new PR and US top 10 mark of 13.44 This mark is also now #6 all time in the state. Kennedy Myers of Lakeside Evans finished 2nd in 14.36 with Sole Bailey of Jackson County finishing 3rd in 14.70. Rounding out the PRs in the race in 4th was Mataya Gayle of River Ridge in 14.70 and Kayleigh Stargell of North Atlanta who was 5th in 14.86. One impressive thing to note is this was Kayleigh's 2nd of 4 podium finishes in the meet as she also finished 5th in the triple jump, 5th in the 300 hurdles and 8th in the 200.
Victoria Teasley of Alexander picked up where Adaejah Hodge left off last year. Victoria was the runner up last year but found herself atop the podium this year with a time of 11.73. Chelsea Williams of Woodward Academy went under 12.0 to finish 2nd with Jada Ray of Lakeside Evans running a PR of 12.05 to finish 3rd.
Woodward Academy used the 4x200 to springboard to 3 relay state titles. Their winning time of 1:39.08 was not only good enough to win but also set a new state meet record. The girls from Alexander were close behind in 1:39.21, which was also under the old state meet record. 3rd and 4th place were close behind, with all 4 teams being separated by less than 1 second. Alpharetta grabbed the 3rd spot in 1:39.62 with Etowah finishing 4th in 1:39.79.
In a race that went out over 6:00 pace with no one wanting to take the lead, Hannah Schemmel of St. Pius added another state title to her 3200 title from the previous night, winning the 1600 in 5:16.63 and closing in a last lap of 1:08.39. Ruby Little of Marist improved upon her 5th place finish in the 3200 to grab 2nd in 5:18.02 with Claire Petersen of Blessed Trinity finishing 3rd in :19.47.
Woodward Academy added their 2nd relay state title of the day in the girls 4x100 winning in a blazing 45.54. This time is the fastest time in GA this year, bettering Hillgrove's state leading time of 45.58 and is currently #7 in the US. This time was also a new state meet record and #7 all time in the state. Lakeside Evans ran a great race to finish 2nd in 46.92 with the girls from Etowah grabbing 3rd in 47.49.
The old saying "competition breeds improvement" is clearly seen in the girls 400 with the top 6 athletes all running a PR and all running under 57.0 seconds. Kiley Mitchell of Alpharetta won the race in a US top 25 time of 54.40 with Yasmine Martin of South Cobb right behind her in 2nd at 54.42. 3rd and 4th were separated by only .04 seconds with Maddison Brister of Grovetown HS finishing 3rd in 55.56 and Sydney Glee of Woodward Academy finishing 4th in 55.60.
Olivia Powell of Woodward Academy added 10 big points to the team score to help her team win the team title. Her time of 41.26 was good enough to not only win but break the state meet record that was set by former Kell Longhorn and Olympian Kendall Williams. Sarah Head of Lee County finished 2nd in a new PR of 42.91 and Kennedy Myers of Lakeside Evans finished 3rd in a new PR of 43.13. As mentioned previously, Kayleigh Stargell of North Atlanta finished 5th and was the final girl in the race to go under 44.0 seconds.
The only thing I can think when I look at these results is wow! The top 2 finishers both ran 2:08 and they both did this while running basically even splits. Oluwatosin Awoleye caps her dominant season with a state title, edging out Kenyah Conner of Woodward Academy at the line in 2:08.28 to 2:08.79. Both of these times are US top 25 times and rank 5th and 9th all time in the state. Oluwatosin's time was also good enough to set a new state meet record. Alexis Wright of Lanier HS grabbed 3rd in a new PR of 2:14.09 and Ella Stone of St Pius ran a PR of 2:15.54 to finish 4th.
Victoria Teasley of Alexander added a 200 state title to go with her 100 title from earlier in the day, pulling away from the field to win running 24.04. Teammates Chelsea Williams and Sydney Glee of Woodward Academy added 14 points to help propel them to a team title running 24.40 and 24.65 to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively. Sophia Richard of Alpharetta grabbed 4th in a PR of 24.72.
4x400The team title race had already been decided but this did not stop Woodward Academy from coming out and dominating the final race of the day. Capping off a team state championship, the 4x400 team added a 3rd and final relay state title to the resume with a winning time of 3:44.63, almost 8 seconds ahead of South Cobb who finished 2nd in 3:52.75. Lakeside Evans rallied for 3rd in 3:53.86 with Alexander finishing 4th in 3:58.79 and the last team to break the 4:00 barrier.