Stephenson’s Denzel Harper is a talented athlete to watch this weekend as he placed first in three different events at sectionals. Harper leads the title contenders for the long jump (23-05.50), 100 meter hurdles (14.49) and 300 meter hurdles (37.89) titles.
In Class AAAA, eight sprinters broke 11 seconds in the 100 meter dash sectionals, with Eastside’s Eric Stokes leading the way with a 10.70. Stokes bested the field with a 22.13 in the 200 meter dash and Eastside also carries the fasted relay times into the weekend as a result. Marist should once again dominate the endurance races as Frank Pittman dominated the 1600 meter run at sectionals with a 4:08.39. The high jump features Marcus Cade (Thomson), Ratayvius Jackson (Eastside) and Luke Johns (Southeast Whitfield), who all tied at sectionals with a first-place 6-04.00. Cade and Jackson will also go head to head in the long jump, while Jackson will face Mt. Zion’s Timotheus Slade in the triple jump as presumptive favorites.
Darius Freeman and Adrian Green are gone from last year’s dominant Cedar Grove relay team, but the Saints are in line to defend their state title in Class AAA this season. Sophomore Israel Spivey and senior Andre Burrell return to the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams that swept the finals in 2015. At Sectionals this year the Saints placed first with a 41.70 time in the 4x100, good enough to best last year’s state finals time of 41.73. The 4x400 team didn’t quite match last year’s time, but it was still good enough to grab first at Sectionals with a 3:23.45.
In the hurdles, Jessie Reverio and Jadon Haselwood are standouts. Reverio and Haselwood will be heavy favorites, especially in the 300 meter hurdles. Reverio scored a first-place time of 39.22 while Haselwood, a freshman, finished third with a 40.59 time.
Last year Greater Atlanta Christian won its first state title since tying with Metter back in 1981. This season’s state finals will feature a wide open field with plenty of teams in the running to capture the gold. Region 6 rivals Wesleyan and Holy Innocents’ are among contenders vying for the crown. The Wolves posted the fastest time in the Sectionals in both the 4x100 meter relay (42.62) and 4x400 meter relay (3:25.52). Senior Jordan Mack has been an individual standout and enters the 100 meter dash as Wesleyan’s top sprinter boasting a 10.98 time. Holy Innocents’ will score points via the 800 meter run where senior Braxton Lindley (2:00.58) and junior Zach Henry (2:01.01) finished one and two in the Sectionals. Lindley placed second last year in the finals with a time of 1:59.92.
Fitzgerald fell to GAC 81-72 for a second-place finish in 2015. This year the Purple Hurricanes look to score points with Chandler Eckler in the pole vault and Willie Ross in the long jump. Both took home first-place in the Sectional meet with Eckler clearing 14 feet and Ross clearing 6-04.00. The discus will come down to a pair of sophomores as Macon County’s Nathaniel Oliver (161-03.00) and Screven County’s CJ Wright (160-08.00) are the two clear cut frontrunners. Last year’s winner tossed a 152-03, so the bar has been set even higher this season.
Athens Christian’s Class A-Private dynasty will face its toughest challenge. In order for the Eagles to win their sixth-straight title, they will have to escape a field that has narrowed the gap from themselves and the champs.
Multi-sport star Demetris Robertson announced on May 1 that he will be playing college football at Cal. The Savannah Christian stud is a five-star wide receiver and led the Raiders basketball team in scoring, but his second calling might be track and field. He took home the gold with a 23-00.25 long jump in 2015 and has the ability to carry the Raiders one more time this year.
Robertson dominated at Sectionals, placing first in every individual event he participated in including the 100 meter dash (10.58), 200 meter dash (21.67) and the long jump (23-02.25).
Terrell County won its first state title in track and field a year ago, but the Greenwave have lost a bulk of their standouts. Second-place finisher Turner County and ninth-place Commerce are two teams to keep an eye on.