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Track and field: Forsyth County athletes set sights on state titles
West Forsyth senior Connor Reidy runs the 110m hurdles last month during the Region 6-7A championships at West Forsyth High School. - photo by David Roberts

By Derrick Richemond

Forsyth County will send a contingent of 96 state qualifiers to this weekend's GHSA track and field state meet, which will run May 12-14. State qualifiers from the county's Class 7A schools will compete at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, while East Forsyth will travel to Grisham Stadium in Carrollton for the Class 3A meet.

West Forsyth produced two sectional champions in sophomore Cole Schmoyer in the 800m run [1:56.47] and the Wolverines' 4x400 relay team [3:23.00].

Senior Makaya Fofana placed third in 110m hurdles [15.06] and fifth in long jump [17-01.00].

“Her ability to compartmentalize those events and focus on what the task at hand is and not worry about what's coming next is probably one the greatest testaments for her,” West head coach Clayton Tillery said.

Junior Silvana Lopez-Ramirez placed second in pole vault [9-06.00].

“Silvana works extremely hard. Coach Farr says that long jumping has greatly increased her explosiveness, so her ability when she swings up on the pole has really taken off,” Tillery said.

Trent Bell also had a second-place finish in the 3200m [9:39.28], while John Leonard placed third in discus [151-04.00], Brandon Nyandoro placed fourth in the 200m [21.93], Bryce Allen finished sixth in the 100m [10.79] and Nishad Sankar placed fifth in the triple jump [42-06.00]. 

For the Wolverines' girls, Grace Mangan placed seventh in 100m [12.41] and seventh in 200m [25.56], while Katherine Bottoms finished seventh in 800m [2:26.11], Hannah Tillery placed sixth in the 3200m [11:51.67], Bella Zorzoli placed sixth in the high jump [5-00.00] and Maggie Gizinski placed seventh in discus [108-00.00].

West's boys ‘A’ relay team placed third in the 4x200 [1:29.98] and first in the 4x400m [3:23.00], and the Wolverines' girls ‘A’ relay team placed sixth in the 4x100m [49.83], 4x400m [4:12.60] and the 4x800 [10:15.29].

“The chemistry and them trusting each other, understanding their speed, understanding each other’s tendencies are huge,” Tillery said.

South Forsyth produced four sectional champions in Chris Nelson, Ben Bergey, Riley Jones and Isabel Yonas.

“When it comes to track, it’s one of those things that you write the program, you tell what to do training wise, but when it comes to the meet, it’s up to them,” South coach Austin Hamilton said. “To see them at one of the big stages leading up the ginormous stages and seeing them be able to perform at the top and at their potential was amazing."

Nelson claimed the crown in long jump [23-00.00], also placing second in 100m [10.55] and third in 200m [21.76]. Nelson won a state championship last year in the 200m dash, but Hamilton didn't want him dwelling on that.

“I challenged him last year. My biggest goal for him moving up to this year was to make sure he realizes he hasn’t reached his peak yet. I know he is beating everybody by a lot, [but] he’s always putting in that work and never a complainer,” Hamilton said.

Ben Bergey squeezed into first place in the 3200m with a time of 9:39.11, just ahead of West's Trent Bell [9:39.28]. 

Bergey also placed second in the 1600m [4:23.11]. Right behind him was Nate Verska, who placed third in the 1600m [4:23.26]. Verska also placed sixth in the 800m [1:59.89], while Zach Hobson placed second in high jump [6-00.00], Josh Nelson placed sixth in triple jump [42-00.75] and Kristian Dawson placed fifth in discuss [147-04.00].

Jones claimed the crown in pole vault [9-06.00] and will aim to defend her state championship in the event this weekend. Jones also placed eighth in the 100m hurdles [15:56] and 300m hurdles [48.11]. 

Yonas dashed through 3200m, beating her opponent by nearly four seconds [11:35:48].

“Her being able to just take off and learn from her last race at region and realize what other opponents wanted to try to do, [so] she fixed it at sectionals shows how into running she is. Especially in a technical race like 3200m. I know people think you’re just running around in circles, but for her to have that mental fortitude is amazing,” Hamilton said.

Mel Pacheco placed fourth in the high jump [5-00.00].

War Eagles’ Boys 4x100m relay team came in second [41.76]. The 4x400m relay team placed fifth at 3:26.71.

For Forsyth Central, sophomore Kieryn Jeter placed second in 400m [56.26] and sixth in 200m [25.44]. Sarah Pipping placed second in high jump [5-02.00]. Maddie Spencer placed third in discus [117-02.00]. Dani McCall placed sixth in the 100m hurdles [15:39] and sixth in the 300m hurdles [47.74].

Patrick Haertel placed third in the 100m [10.69]. Austin McNeil placed fourth in 110m hurdles [15.79]. Will Andrews placed fifth in 300m hurdles [41:10]. Also, Forsyth Central ‘A’ Relay team placed seventh in the 4x200m [1:30.60].

“We have high expectations here and we tell them, ‘Your goal is to get to the state meet and to compete and stand on the podium.’ If you don’t have high expectations, you’re not going to accomplish much,” Central coach Scott Walker said. "I’m so proud of how young men and women competed at the sectionals. We really did a tremendous job. They performed magnificently, competed very hard, and their event coaches did a tremendous job getting them ready."

For Denmark, Ethan Ashley placed first in the 1600m [4:18.05] and fifth in the 3200m [9:43:87].

“Well, he works very hard. He mainly was trying to qualify,” Denmark head coach Andrew Hudson said.

Jessica Perriello placed second in the 1600m [5:18.32] and fourth in the 800m [2:22.63].

Tavian Anderson placed second in 800m [1:57.20], while Nicole Counter placed third in pole vault [9-06.00], Owen Kelman placed sixth in the 110m hurdles [16.02], Ethan Bridge placed seventh in 3200 [9:46.55], Austin DeCarlo placed seventh in shot put [45-11.00], Austin DeCarlo placed seventh in shot put [45-11.00]. Denmark’s 4x800m relay team placed sixth [8:16.76]] and the Denmark 4x100m relay team finished eighth [47.27].

“Overall, we did pretty well. The team accomplished what we wanted them to do and what they were capable of. I think we qualified everyone that thought really had a good chance,” Hudson said.

Lambert enters the state meet with a pair of sectional champions. The Longhorns' boys ‘A’ relay team captured a section in the 4x800 [8:11.18], while Caroline Harris placed first in the 1600m [5:17.51] and fifth in 800m [2:24.57]. 

Aminah Jabbie placed third in the 100m [12.10] and fifth in the 300m hurdles [47.62], while Andrew Vernon placed third in shot put [48-03.00]. Right behind him was Finn Braeuer, who placed fourth in shot put [ 47-09.50]. Isabelle Gaharan placed fourth in the 3200m 11:49.08, while Bella Cammarota placed sixth in the 800m [2:25.12].

For North Forsyth, Lexie Durban placed third in shot put [40-00.00] and fifth in discus [114-08.00]. Grant Lively placed second in discus [151-08.00]. Tre'von Gordon placed fourth in high jump [6-00.00] and Abram King placed eighth in triple jump [41-10.25].

East junior Alex Arrambide won a sectional championship in the 3200m [9:54.79] and also finished second in the 1600m [4:17.18] and third in the 800m [1:58.56]. The Broncos also qualified their third-place 4x800m relay team [8:36.21], Lydia Robinson in the 200m [25.97] and the 400m [58.53], Elizabeth Wade in the 300m hurdles [48.10] and pole vault [9-06.00], as well as the fourth-place 4x400m relay team [4:16.07].