2024 GHSA 4A Boys And Girls State Track & Field Meet Preview

Joseph Jacquot and Esfan Daya will play a big part in Westminster's title pursuite

Wow. I can't believe it's already the state meet week. The regular season kind of comes in a few different phases and all of them seem like a whirlwind in different ways. We start off with the indoor season which already has plenty of question marks as you never know who is going all in on indoor and who is saving it for outdoor. So each elite performance seems like a fun surprise. Then we move on to the regular outdoor season where you never know what you're gonna get in terms of weather but it seems like everybody is just competing all of the time. Results are pouring in and elite performances are found all over the place. But then championship season brings with it a whole new vibe as teams try to get as many athletes as they possibly can through the rounds and to the state meet. Region and Sectionals always have their casualties as this sport is built on multiple rounds of qualification, and managing those rounds is a part of it at all levels. It's not who can run the fastest, jump the highest, or throw/jump the farthest in one effort, championship season is about managing those rounds and being able to perform consistently so that you can show the best of yourself at the state meet.

After the meets this weekend, the 4A Virtual meets are updated to reflect the sectional results. So now that we know who all is competing at the GHSA 4A State Championships, let's focus on what we're going to see at these meets. Don't forget to check the meet hub all week as it gets updater through the end of the weekend with our full coverage!

State Meet Hub

Boys Team Race

This race looks close on paper when you consider the sectional results. But that's just because Westminster was letting their distance kids coast. They're definitely the favorites for yet another state title this spring. They often win state titles on the backs of their distance kids, and considering this distance crew is their best ever, it's not surprising that they're in this position again. They've also got big points coming in the throws and other areas as well, but with the top level talent and depth they have qualified in the distance events, they could win it all with just that crew. Stephenson is kind of the opposite of Westminster. They also are usually pretty powerful at the state meet, but they usually do it on the backs of their sprinters and relays. And this year is no different. They look like the favorites for runner up at this point, and if anything happens they'll be ready to step in and go for the win too. But they've also got some teams to hold off if they want to hold that position. Starrs Mill, Cedartown, Woodland Stockbridge, and Lovett are all looking pretty good heading into the state meet. I expect it to be a pretty solid battle between those four schools for the final podium spots. 

Boys Top Athletes to Watch

I gotta say I'm surprised. When we changed the schedule a few years ago to follow the NFHS schedule for our meets, I expected to see fewer kids doing the 100/110h double. With the two events still back to back and more individual events available for kids to run, I thought we'd see fewer kids attempt it, but every year there seems to be an elite sprinter who is also a 100/110h kid too. It's very impressive to be elite in both. And Dominiq Northington is that guy in this meet. He's the favorite for both the 100 and the 110h in this meet while Ali Dargan and Curtis Coleman, who are favored to go 1-2 in the 200, will be chasing him. And then teammates Todd Burton and Collin Seals will do battle for the win in the 400.

As I said, the distance events will likely be dominated by Westminster. Joseph Jacquot and Esfan Daya lead the charge in the 1600 and 3200 with Jacob Jacquot also elite in the 3200 and Tyler Robinson elite in the 1600. The only event they might struggle with is the 800, and that's because it's absolutely loaded with talent. You've still got Willem Mandel and Rohan Gazula who are good enough to win it, but the 4A leader in the event this year is Abenezer Woellore. Todd Burton will be trying the 400/800 double, but could still be a factor, but also don't overlook Justin Warner and Allen Israel Sulton IV in this event either. That's alot of top level talent for one event.

As previously mentioned, Northington is the class of the field in the 110 hurdles, but the 300 hurdles is kind of wide open. Amari Scott and Astin Turner are probably the favorites for the win, but you never know with 6 guys all sub 40, any of them could be in the mix.

In the field events, the triple jump will be a BATTLE. 13 guys over 44 and 4 guys over 46? Yes, please. What a show this could be for the fans. The top seed is William Zelnak from Lovett at 47-9 but don't count out Brent Chay who has also gone over 47 this year. Not to mention the other guys all at 46's and 45's. What a year for the triple jump in class 4A. Jaelin Joseph will also battle Zelnak in the high jump while Gavin Barlow should be able to handle things in the long jump. The pole vault will also be wild with 8 guys over 13 feet. The two favorites are over 14 though with Owen Wilkinson and Jackson Ross. And to round out the super elite field events in class 4A are the throws which will also feature some great battles as Phillips Moore takes on Jared Moore in the Shot Put as they both pursue that 60 foot through and then the two of them double back in the Discus but add in Cedric Irvin which could see all three of them over 175 feet. Crazy.

The relays will see Stephenson as the favorite in the 4x1 and 4x4 while McDonough and Miller Grove battle in the 4x200. But the 4x8 will be the most interesting one with several teams in the low 8's already as Pace Academy leads the charge. But don't be surprised to see Westminster load it up with their distance kids who will be done competing by that time and chase something really fast.

Girls Team Race

Druid Hills is very much sitting in the driver seat for this one. But this comes with a Caveat. They're not invincible. And when they rely so heavily on a couple of superstar athletes, regardless of how talented those athletes are, you can see a state title derailed by one bad step. They've managed the load very well all season long so there's certainly no reason to doubt them, but this is state and anything can happen. They're very strong in the sprints and hurdles and might not look like anything special heading into Saturday, but expect them to just put up an onslaught of points all day long and come blowing by the more distance and field heavy schools. That being said, there are some very talented squads they have to beat in order to win this thing. Pace Academy looks very strong and will be the slight favorite for runner up. They're very strong in the distance events which means there will be almost no crossover with Druid Hills. After Pace there are still 3 very good teams fighting for the other trophies. Stockbridge has a pretty balanced squad with enough girls in the meet to do some damage. Westminster also has a good number of girls at the meet while North Hall is much like Pace with some heavy hitters in the distance events. Anything can happen and there are a couple of other squads who could throw their names in the hat with a good meet like Starrs Mill or Cherokee Bluff. But I think the four podium teams will be one of the five mentioned previously.

Girls Top Athletes to Watch

The sprints are where Druid Hills will do their damage. I can't tell you who will win between Sanaa Frederick and Sole Frederick, but it's a really good bet that they'll go 1-2 in both the 100 and 200. And to top it off they've got a 3rd girl who is sub 12! Delali Setrana could definitely make it a 1-2-3 for them in both events which would be crazy considering there are two other sub 12 girls in the race too! In a different year or a different classification we might be talking about the battle between Akira Brown and Grace Smith for the individual title. But instead they ran up against Druid Hills wall. This will really be something special for those who get to witness it. In the 400, the fastest seed time comes from, you guessed it, a Druid Hills girl. Seriously, what is in the water at that school? Jadyn Bolden is the top 400 seed coming in but Mia Brown will probably give her a run too.

When we switch to distance, things change a little bit. The potential star of the meet is Caroline Hood who will be back to defend her titles in the 1600 and 3200. But this time she will be challenged by her teammate Zahara Bernal who actually won the state XC title this fall. Clodagh O'Bryant, Harriett Blaha, and Abi Moore are all in the mix for a top finish in those events too. And in the 800 we get to see the talent that Olivia Resnick brings to the Pace squad too. Lucy Johnson could challenge her, but Resnick is definitely the favorite.

As we transition to the hurdles, the top level talent continues for this class with Hannah Cheek and Nafer Rapier being the top talent in the 100 hurdles while Grace Smith and Haley Weyer will duel in the 300 hurdles. This class is just loaded with talent in so many events.

In the field, Grace Smith and Jayla Clark are two very elite long jumpers who will battle it out. Madison Townsend and Gabby Nguyen are two elite pole vaulters who will battle it out too. Bella Goode looks like the favorite in the triple jump while the high jump is wide open for like 10 different girls who have a shot. in the throws Naysa Brewer is strong in th shot put along with Daynejia Atkins, Emery Jones, and Avah Morrison in the discus.

In the relays you already know that Druid Hills is strong in the sprint relays. But Stockbridge looks very good in the 4x4 while Pace Academy is probably going to go for something big in the 4x8.