At Tuesday's Forsyth County Track & Field Championships at West Forsyth High School, South Forsyth won the girls team title, boosted by a dominant performance in the the middle distance events. The War Eagles had the top three finishers in the 800 meters and went 2-3-4 in the 1600 meters, although only two runners could score for them in each event.
That success was a bittersweet reminder of another event, one where, in Georgia, pride is the only thing at stake.
The 4x800 meter relay is a common event in the sport, including at the high school level. It's a state championship event in most states in the southeast, as well as in New York, where War Eagles head coach Christine Shaw competed growing up. It isn’t in Georgia, though, and Shaw isn’t sure why.
South has persisted, though. In this season, Shaw's first with the War Eagles, she has placed an increased emphasis on middle distance work, working to put foot speed and endurance together. By putting a 4x800 team together, Shaw can provide variety to athletes' routines and let more runners experience the camaraderie of relays, which tend to be the domain of sprinters.
The War Eagles can showcase their mix of depth and quality in the 4x800, even if the results don't have much application in Georgia.
“It kind of stinks,” said senior Millie Bergey, a regular member of the relay, “… I know that we have multiple girls that can run under 2:20.”
At the Longhorn Stampede meet on March 11, they ran the relay in 9:50, winning by 42 seconds over other area teams. A week after that, the War Eagles ran their best time in the event, a 9:37, at the Coaches Invitational, and at the Florida State Relays on March 25, South finished second among 26 teams with a time of 9:41.
The current iteration of South's 4x800 squad is done, as Bergey is focusing just on the 800 and 1600 at the upcoming championship meets. But the War Eagles will run one more relay, with non-varsity runners, at the region meet.
It won't count for much, but maybe somebody will take notice, Shaw hopes.
“We’re trying to show what we can do as a state, in Georgia together, so we can prove that it needs to be part of our (meets),” Shaw said.
Lambert won the boys title with a score of 165, with strong performances in the sprinting events and wins by Jalen Kidd in the long jump and triple jump buoying the Longhorns.
West’s Haller avoids a repeat, sets record
Jack Haller knew what not to do this season.
The West Forsyth junior pole vaulter, for much of 2016, was right along with the now-graduated Koby Cormier in the heights he was clearing. But Cormier kept improving as the year went on, and Haller flattened out. Cormier won the 6A state championship with a clearance of 14 feet, and Haller didn’t clear a height.
“He worked a lot harder than I did,” Haller said of Cormier. “I thought I kind of had it in the bag. I got a little egotistical and stuff like that.”
Haller has made sure to put in the necessary work this year, and he has significant improvement to show for it. He cleared a height of 15 feet, 3 inches on Tuesday, setting a new school record and a new personal best for Haller.
The height that Haller cleared on Tuesday puts him on track for a state championship – it’s not only better than what Cormier did in 2016, but better than the highest clearance from any class at that meet. Now he has to make sure he doesn’t slip up at any of the meets leading up to state.
“I’m hoping to stay consistent,” Haller said. “Me and my coach have been able to play the field well, come up with the right strategy to make sure we don’t make stupid errors that could knock me out of a state meet or something like that.”
GIRLS COUNTY RESULTS
1. South Forsyth, 186.50
2. Lambert, 145
3. West Forsyth, 64
4. Forsyth Central, 61
5. North Forsyth, 37.50
100 – Louise Tocays, South Forsyth, 12.67
200 – Jordan Smith, Lambert, 25.82
400 – Jordan Smith, Lambert, 57.11
800 – Kaylee DuPont, South Forsyth, 2:16.92
1600 – Liz Galarza, West Forsyth, 5:06.76
3200 – Kaylee DuPont, South Forsyth, 11:37.63
100 hurdles – Laney Kronz, Forsyth Central, 16.23
300 hurdles – Laney Kronz, Forsyth Central, 49.01
4x100 relay – South Forsyth, 49.50
4x400 relay – Lambert, 4:06.47
High jump – Regan Pasonski, Lambert, 5-4
Pole vault – Abigail Robertson, West Forsyth, 9-9
Long jump – Cameron Miller, West Forsyth, 16-0
Triple jump – Taylor Oakley, Lambert, 33-2.25
Shot put – Taliyah Manning, Forsyth Central, 35-7.75
Discus – Taliyah Manning, Forsyth Central, 107-5
BOYS COUNTY RESULTS
1. Lambert, 165
2. South Forsyth, 112
3. West Forsyth, 87.50
4. North Forsyth, 71
5. Forsyth Central, 58.50
100 – Marcus Alvarez, North Forsyth, 11.14
200 – Marcus Alvarez, North Forsyth, 22.41
400 – Nico Seaton, Forsyth Central, 51.22
800 – Lee Keil, Lambert, 1:59.28
1600 – Byron Grogan, Lambert, 4:24.70
3200 – Michael Tardella, Lambert, 10:03.31
110 hurdles – Alex Gibbs-Poe, Lambert, 15.04
300 hurdles – Christopher Philmon, Lambert, 41.75
4x100 relay – Lambert, 43.69
4x400 relay – South Forsyth, 3:32.52
High jump – Simon Holcomb, North Forsyth, 6-4
Pole vault – Jack Haller, West Forsyth, 15-3
Long jump – Jalen Kidd, Lambert, 21-6
Triple jump – Jalen Kidd, Lambert, 43-4
Shot put – Ridvan Kazimov, South Forsyth, 47-10.50
Discus – Robert Bishop, North Forsyth, 127-10