Suspension keeps top sprinter out of state meet

Credit: File

Credit: File

The state track-and-field meet begins Thursday at four sites statewide, but one of Georgia’s best female sprinters won’t be running because coaches suspended her for what they say was lack of effort in a relay race last month.

Tyler Lowe, a junior at Chattahoochee, a high school in north Fulton County, has personal bests this season that rank No. 1 or No. 2 in Class 5A for the 100, 200 and 400 meters, according to

Lowe’s best time of 53.92 seconds in the 400 meters would’ve made her the favorite in Saturday’s finals at the 5A meet in Columbus.

The incident that prompted Lowe’s suspension took place at the McEachern Invitational in April and was brought to light Wednesday in a story by, a website that covers track and field nationally.

Leading to the McEachern event, Lowe wanted to run her three sprint specialties but relented to coaches’ demands that she run the 4x100 relay instead of the 200, according to the MileSplit article. The relay team, which won Class 6A last year with Lowe as a member, finished last at the McEachern meet.

Chattahoochee coach Breanna Radford, speaking for the coaching staff, stated the reason for the suspension in an email that Lowe’s family made available to MileSplit.

“Tyler’s purposeful lack of effort during her leg of the 4x400 relay at McEachern was not becoming of a Chattahoochee athlete,’’ the email stated. “She let down her relay team as well as the Girls Track & Field team and chose not to represent our program and our school to our expectations.”

Lowe denied giving poor effort and told MileSplit she was exhausted from running the 100 and 400 meters in what turned out to be personal-record times. MileSplit noted that even if Lowe had run 20 seconds faster, the team would not have broken the top 10.

Lowe’s parents, David and Vanessa, accused the coaching staff of bullying and targeting their daughter.

“We affirm that our daughter has been unfairly targeted by the coaching staff, and this mistreatment ... is in response to a combination of us voicing our parental concerns to the coaching staff,” they said in an email to Chattahoochee’s principal, Mike Todd. “This is retaliatory and irresponsible.”

Chattahoochee coaches let Lowe know about the suspension through an email, but she didn’t receive the email before showing up at the next practice. She was told to leave. The suspension kept Lowe out of the region meet, which is mandatory to qualify for state. It effectively ended her season.

Lowe had hoped to improve on her sophomore state finishes of fifth in the 200 and eighth in the 400.

“I felt I was missing out on something,’’ Lowe told MileSplit about her school’s decision that kept her out of state. “I felt used after the fact. Nobody had anything to say to me. After I wasn’t a part of it, I was left behind and devastated for missing out on states.”

Chattahoochee coaches and administrators did not comment on Lowe’s case. Fulton County Schools issued a statement through communications officer Brian Noyes.

It read: “Chattahoochee High School believes sportsmanship is as critical to the overall success of our athletic programs as athletic performance. All athletes are expected to follow the code of conduct as outlined in the Fulton County Schools Athlete/Parent Athletic Handbook. Coaches oversee the adherence of behavior related to the handbook. Student-athletes whose actions do not meet the standards of sportsmanship can expect to receive appropriate consequences.”

State meets are taking place through Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany (classes 3A and 4A), McEachern (2A, 7A), Barron Stadium in Rome (A Division I, 6A and Adapted) and Kinnett Stadium in Columbus (A Division II and 5A).