JOHNS CREEK – South Forsyth sophomore Savannah Carnahan was up the track and around the corner, virtually out of sight and out of threats for the 3,200-meter crown on the first day of the Region 6-AAAAAA Track and Field Championships on Wednesday at Johns Creek.
Behind her were far more compelling developments. A pack of runners was thick, led by West Forsyth freshmen Julie Ericson and Liz Galarza. Side by side, the two were chasing down one of the last three spots to qualify for Sectionals next week, but South’s Milicent Bergey, Alpharetta’s Kenedy Thorne and Centennial’s Katie Meyer were close by.
So close that Galarza got bumped, lost her balance and collided with Ericson, sending both to the ground with just three laps to go.
“I was kind of worried and kind of scared,” Ericson. “But then I thought just to relax and try to get up there again so I could get a good spot, because I really wanted to go to Sectionals.”
In 200 meters, Galarza was back leading the second pack. In 400, Ericson was back too. They finished second and fourth, respectively.
Carnahan authored the most dominant performance of the day, finishing in 10 minutes 56.94 seconds to establish a new top time in the state’s largest classification. Her first-place finish, along with Bergey’s third-place finish, helped South end the day leading the girls’ standings with 29 points ahead of Centennial (23), Johns Creek (22), Alpharetta (19) and Lambert and West Forsyth (18).
At this point of the season, something has changed for Carnahan, and she knows it. Perhaps her focus wavered during the long slog of the regular season, she said. The two-mile race can become tedious.
Carnahan’s times have started to drop precipitously. She cut 20 seconds off her personal best at the Forsyth County Track and Field Championships last week. She cut 12 more seconds off on Tuesday.
“Something just clicked these last two races,” Carnahan said.
The start of championship season helped, Carnahan said, bringing with it competitiveness and urgency regular season meets lacked. Carnahan added that watching her teammates succeed has also buoyed her confidence over the past two weeks.
Indeed, Bergey, a freshman, finished the 3,200 in 11:34.67 to qualify for Sectionals, while junior Ally Welch won the high jump (4-10).
Along with Ericson and Galarza, West also had Chandlar Randall qualify for Sectionals with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump (33-6.5).
North’s Jessica Johnson won the triple jump (34-2.75), while Lambert’s Julia Park finished fourth in the high jump (4-8).
The most compelling development on the boys’ side was not any individual event as much as the team standings. Johns Creek finished the day with the lead with 36 points, but North (30.5), Lambert (30) and South (26.5) were close behind.
The Raiders again used their strength in field events to accumulate points. North had four qualify for Sectionals, led by Lenny Bishop who won the shot put (45-8). Jamal Davenport finished fourth (43-0) in the shot put. Kansas Mullins was second in the long jump (21-1.5), while Chad Warner was fourth in the pole vault (11-0).
Lambert stuck close to the competition thanks to Jonathan Schwind’s win in the 1,600 (4:27.64), Mason Lord’s win in pole vault (13-3) and Zach Matthew’s fourth-place finish in the long jump (20.6.25).
South had two qualify for Sectionals in Heinz Achterman, who finished third in the pole vault (11-0), and Manny Godswill, who finished third in the long jump (20-6.75).
West’s Brian Skoglind qualified for Sectionals in the 1,600 with a third-place finish in 4:31.45.