POWDER SPRINGS — This year's GHSA Class 7A track & field state meet had a familiar tinge to it, as Forsyth County produced three individual state champions in the classification, with each athlete becoming a repeat state champion.
In all, the county produced four champions, with East Forsyth junior Alex Arrambide becoming the school's first state champion with a win in the 3200m at the Class 3A meet in Carrollton.
South Forsyth had two state champions in Riley Jones [pole vault] and Chris Nelson [200m], while Denmark senior Ethan Ashley won a pair of individual titles — first in the 1600m, then in the 3200m.
Nelson's victory, plus a couple of runner-up finishes, helped catapult the War Eagles' boys team to a third-place team finish at the Class 7A meet.
South used a balanced performance in both the track and field portions of the meet.
Nathan Efobi placed fourth in the shot put with a heave of 52-8.75, while Zach Hobson finished eighth in the high jump [6-0] on Thursday.
On Saturday, Ben Bergey had a second-place finish in the 1600m [4:14.53] and South's relay team of Josh Nelson, Joshua Muleta, Nathan Neo and Chris Nelson finished third in the 4x100 [41.74].
Nate Verska added an eighth-place time in the 800m [1:58.54].
Chris Nelson placed second in the 100m [10.45], just two hundredths of a second behind Pebblebrook's Dwight Phillips, and finished second in the long jump [22-10.75].
"I'm not a cocky person at all, but I'm just not OK with second place," Nelson said. "Second place just isn't in my vocabulary. I'm usually a winner, so I just don't like it."
Nelson did become a two-time state champion in the 200m, however, taking control of the race at the turn and blazing past McEachern's Joshua Knox.
Another repeat state champ! South Forsyth's Chris Nelson runs a blazing 21.36 to win the 200m.— David Roberts (@FCNDavidRoberts) May 14, 2022
West Forsyth's Brandon Nyandoro finished fifth with a 21.95. pic.twitter.com/zBFyjxNDSa
Knox finished ahead of Nelson at last weekend's sectional meet, but Nelson won when it mattered most.
"Probably the curve," Nelson said of when he knew he had the race won. "I knew I was going to come out ahead at the turn, because that's usually where I win all my races at."
South's first state champion came Thursday when Jones led a contingent of Forsyth County athletes in the pole vault, reaching a mark of 12-6 to win her second state title.
Denmark's Nicole Counter finished second [12-6], while West Forsyth's Silvana Lopez-Ramirez placed third [11-6] and Forsyth Central's Lydia Kimsey followed in fourth place [11-6].
Ashley provided a fitting finish to a memorable senior season, winning his final race in a Denmark uniform with a 4:12.44 in the 1600m.
Denmark senior Ethan Ashley defends his state championship in the 1600m with a time of 4:12.44.— David Roberts (@FCNDavidRoberts) May 14, 2022
South Forsyth's Ben Bergey followed in second with a 4:14.53. pic.twitter.com/3OUTjJ5poO
Ashley helped set a new state record in the 4x800m relay last year at the state meet, and between those two races and Saturday's meet, he also won the Class 7A state championship in cross country.
Ashley added two more gold medals with a time of 4:12.44 in the 1600m and a 9:07.36 in the 3200m.
Denmark senior Tavian Anderson also secured a fourth-place finish in the 800m [1:56.76].
Forsyth Central sophomore Kieryn Jeter turned in an impressive performance in the 400m, finishing third with a time of 55.77, just over two tenths of a second behind Campbell's Sydney Nettles.
Sarah Pipping added a fourth-place finish in the high jump [5-0] for the Bulldogs, while Dani McCall finished seventh in the 100m hurdles [15.46].
North Forsyth had an impressive showing in the field events, highlighted by Lexie Durban's third-place finish in shot put [39-7] and seventh-place finish in the discus [111-8]. Tre'von Gordon finished sixth in the high jump and Grant Lively finished ninth in the discus [143.2].
East shined in its debut at the state track and field meet, as the Broncos' boys team won 31 points to finish fifth in Class 3A.
Arrambide finished second in the 800m [1:54.17] and 1600m [4:11.99] before winning the 3200m handily by more than four seconds.
Arrambide also helped the Broncos' 4x800m relay team that included William Knight, Harrison Hunt and Thomas Pederson to a fourth-place time [8:30.90].
Additionally, Elizabeth Wade managed to cement to county's hold in pole vault, earning a podium finish with a mark of 9-6.
Lydia Robinson added a fifth-place showing in the 400m [1:00.20] and an eighth-place time in the 200m [25.92].