October 22, 2021

8 HCHS Athletes Punch Tickets to Rome

(Bremen, GA) — Following solid performances at the state sectionals in Bremen Saturday, eight Heard County track athletes are headed for Berry College in Rome later this week to compete at the GHSA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships.

The three-day event at Valhalla Stadium begins Thursday and the Braves will do battle individually versus some of the most elite Class AA athletes in the state.

The Class 1A Private and Class 7A schools will also compete at the same facility while Class A Public, 3A, and 4A will take place at Albany and Classes 5A, 6A, and wheelchair athletes will compete at Grisham Stadium in Carrollton.

Leading the way for the Braves at Bremen on Saturday was Shot Put specialist and defending Class A State Champion Zaylin Wood who handily won the Sectional Championship with a throw of 55 feet 2 inches — besting second place finisher Johnny Hudson of Washington by around six feet.

The winner of the other Class AA Shot Put Sectional at Fitzgerald Saturday Dekalvin Williams of Screven County with a throw of 50 feet 9 inches meaning the Brave senior will be a heavy favorite to win the title this week if he has another strong day.

2018 Heard County Hall of Fame inductee Shareetha Jackson was the last Heard County athlete to win an individual GHSA State Track Title in 2003. She also won her title in the Shot Put.

Lady Brave thrower Beth Taylor finished second in the Discus at Saturday’s Sectional Meet

Sophomore Lady Brave Beth Taylor had a big day in her throwing events as she advanced to the State Meet in both the Discus Throw and the Shot Put.

Taylor scored a fantastic second place finish in the Discus with a throw of 117 feet 1 inch — just short of her personal record.

Beth will enter the Rome event as the second seed in the state, but she will face a tall order to earn that title. Defending state champ senior Shakira Ardister from Elbert County threw a phenomenal 134 feet 6 inches to win the Bremen sectional.

Taylor earned a fourth place medal in Discus at state as a freshman last year. She scored a fifth place finish in the Shot Put Saturday with a throw of 32 feet 8 1/2 inches.

Senior runner Tray Dunson also qualified for the state finals in both the 200 Meter and the 100 Meter races.

Dunson finished in second place to South Atlanta’s Andrew Harsfield after a photo finish separated the two competitors. Harsfield crossed the line in 22.12 seconds with Dunson just behind at 22.15. Nykeem Farrow of Bleckley County posted the strongest 200 Meter time at the Fitzgerald sectional at 21.83.

In the 100 Meter, Dunson took home the fifth place finish at sectionals with a posted time of 11.22. The winner of the Bremen sectional was Zabrion Whatley of Rockmart at 10.98 while the top time at Fitzgerald was also posted by Farrow at 10.62. Dunson’s PR in the 100 is 10.97 so he will be in strong medal contention in both events this week in Rome.

Jartavious “J.T.” Thornton is the only other Brave to earn finals appearances in multiple events as he qualified in both the 110 Meter Hurdles and the 300 Meter Hurdles. Thornton’s top finish was fifth in the 300 with a time of 41.64. He posted a time of 15.67 in the 110 to just make the cut in eighth place.

Sophomore Bailey Scarborough advanced to the state finals in the Pole Vault where he hopes to build on his fourth place state finals finish in 2018 as only a freshman. He was one of four competitors that covered 11 feet Saturday but the event was cut short after the finals eight was set due to the potential for inclement weather. The top mark at the Fitzgerald sectional was 12 feet by Caden Maxwell of Bleckley County.

Senior Miranda Harbin will be competing in the 100 meter Hurdles following a fifth place finish in Bremen where she finished in a time of 17.49.

Fellow Senior Mack Smith advanced to state for the second straight year after his sixth place finish in the Discs Throw Saturday. Smith tallied his strongest mark ever at 131 feet 6 inches.

Rounding out the Braves to punch state tickets was junior Tori Caldwell who took sixth place in the High Jump at 4 feet 10 inches. Caldwell found the state finals podium at Albany last year in the Pole Vault.

Sophomore Sophia Long came up just short of a state slot with a ninth place finish in the Triple Jump but will serve as the alternate if someone is unable to compete this week.

Also competing at sectionals Saturday were Rachel Butler, Hermonie Garza, Camille Gaskins, Beth Moreland, Avery Barnes, Brianna Hill, Alyssa Brown, Micaiah Austin, Dalton Aycock and Omar Jackson. Tae Gray and Ashton Bonner were unable to compete due to injuries.

“Most of our kids hit PR’s out here today. We had a couple of misses but for the most part the kids were consistent, said head track coach Cory Paul Shelnutt after the sectional. “We took the last couple of weeks and just tried to recoup them and make sure they would be as fresh as possible and know what to do today.”

“The times are getting shorter in the running events and the distances are getting longer in the throwing events at sectionals almost each and every year. I’m super proud of everyone today — even those kids that didn’t advance,” said Shelnutt.

The State Track and Field Championships will kick off at noon Thursday at Berry College and conclude with an awards ceremony at 5:00 PM Saturday.

Preliminary running events will take place Thursday afternoon beginning at 1:30 PM as will the Class 2A Pole Vault competition at 3:00 PM. Most of the field events will take place on Friday and the Running Finals will be featured on Saturday.

The events will be held on Clark Track and Dickey Field at Valhalla Stadium on the Campus of Berry College. The address is 2277 Martha Berry Hwy NW, Mount Berry GA 30149. Admission is $7.00 per day.

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