Track and Field Blog: McEachern Invitational headlines weekend slate

Credit: Cecil Copeland

Credit: Cecil Copeland

On Friday, Hawkinsville High School will host its annual Hawkinsville Invitational. The meet will include the host Red Devils, Crawford County, Montgomery County, Telfair County, Warner Robins and the Westfield School. Montgomery County swept boys and girls state titles for the first time in school history last season and the boys are two-time defending state champs. Greater Atlanta Christian is set for the GAC Classic on Friday night in Norcross and the Spartans will headline a field of teams that includes Denmark, Flowery Branch, Grayson, Lanier Christian, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett, Parkview and Wesleyan.

Carrollton will be host to Senior Night Under the Lights 2024 at Central High School on Friday and this meet will include the host Lions, Paulding County, B.E.S.T. Academy, Unity Christian and Handley High School from Roanoke Alabama. On Saturday, Paulding County will be one of 42 programs set to participate in the star-powered McEachern Invitational. In addition to Paulding County and the host Indians, this meet will include defending Class 6A boys champion Langston Hughes in addition to Alexander, Alpharetta, Athens Academy, Banneker, Cambridge, Campbell, Carrollton, Cedartown, Chapel Hill, Chattahoochee, Creekside, Douglas County, Druid Hills, East Paulding, Fannin County, Gainesville, Harrison, Hiram, Johnson-Savannah, Jones County, Landmark Christian, McIntosh, Mundy’s Mill, North Atlanta, North Cobb Christian, North Cobb, Pebblebrook, Prince Avenue Christian, South Cobb, South Paulding, Sprayberry, Starr’s Mill, Stephenson, Tucker, Westlake, Woodstock and Woodward Academy.

Forsyth Central and North Forsyth will go head-to-head in the Forsyth Central Invitational on Saturday as well.

The MCSD Championship will be hosted on Saturday at Kinnett Stadium in Columbus and will stage Columbus, Carver-Columbus, Hardaway, Jordan, Kendrick, Northside-Columbus, Shaw and Spencer. Finally, The Westminster Relays will take place on Saturday with the host Wildcats leading a field that includes, Alexander, Atlanta Classical Academy, Banneker, Cedar Grove, Drew, Dunwoody, Fellowship Christian, Galloway, Holy Innocents’, Lovett, MLK, Mays, Midtown, Mt. Bethel Christian, North Gwinnett, Providence Christian, Riverside Military, Salem, Sandy Creek, South Atlanta, Southwest DeKalb, Stephenson, Stockbridge, Towers, Wheeler, Whitewater and Woodland-Stockbridge.

This past week, Ava Kitchings from GACS was recognized for her 19-11.75 long jump at the Gwinnett County Championships and Buford’s Ervin Pearson used a 46.73 to place first in the 400 meter. This week, Westminster’s Madison Townsend is headlining the state’s top Pole Vaulters after clearing 12-10.

On the boys side, Marist’s Tommy Latham is making his case for Track and Field Athlete of the Year after closing out Spring Break section of the season with a historic weekend. On Friday, the Marist boys broke a 14-year-old state record in the 4x1600 relay by clocking a 17:19.45. That mark snuck under the previous 2010 mark set by Brookwood over 17:20.26. The War Eagles’ relay team was manned by Ian Gaffney, Andrew Strickland, Liam Hanemann and Tommy Latham. Gaffney’s split was 4:24.30, Strickland clocked a 4:20.97, Hanemann finished with a 4:21.26 split and then Latham closed out the state record with a blazing 4:12.88.

The record-setting performance took place at the famous Arcadia Invitational in California and Latham followed it up on Saturday just 24 hours later by breaking the state-record for the 3200 meters. The junior—who received Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year this past January clocked an 8:46.88 and edged a national field that saw a whopping 37 runners finish under the 9:00 threshold. In doing so, Latham became the first Georgia High Schooler to ever break the 8:48.00 mark.

Latham split 4:25 for his first four laps, putting him exactly on pace to match the previous state record. But, picked up the pace over the final four laps and closed his split to in 4:21 to lower the record by just under four seconds.

The Marist boys accomplished the second state-record in a relay event this season after the Druid Hills girls did it last month.