Track and field blog: What to watch for Championship Weekend

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The 2022 track and field season will conclude May 12-14 with one of the most anticipated championship weekends in state history. The action will take place at four separate locations, with A Public and 4A (Hugh Mills Stadium), A Private and 7A (McEachern), 3A, 6A and Adapted (Grisham Stadium) and 2A and 5A (Kinnett) divided into the different venues.

State records, national bests and more incredible achievements have been posted since the start of the track and field season, and now all of the top talent will coalesce and compete for state-championship bragging rights.

In Class 7A, Pebblebrook’s Dwight Phillips will be a favorite in the boys 100-meter dash after clocking 10.44 seconds to win the Sectional B last weekend, besting the 10.65 that Lowndes’ Tydreke Thomas took state with a year ago. Camden County’s Ricky Williams earned a top finish in the Sectional A this past weekend in the 400 with a 46.62, and his teammate Deonte Cole took the long jump at 23 feet, 8 inches. Both of those results would have earned state titles at last year’s championships. On the girls side, reigning 100 state champion Tamiia Fuller bested her 11.76 at last year’s championships with a blazing 11.56 this past weekend and will look to defend her crown.

Class 6A is headlined by defending boys state champion Carrollton, which will look for its 28th all-time state crown this season, and the Westlake girls, who will look to win their sixth state crown since 2013. Whether the Trojans’ and Lions’ dynasties will persist is definitely a major storyline, but Class 6A as a whole this season has been the main driving force of putting Georgia on the map nationally.

In February, Buford’s foursome of Tobi Olawole, Isaiah Bond, Victor Venn and K.J. Bolden won the 400 relay in 40.79, marking the fastest time in Georgia and in the nation this season. Venn was replaced by Jordan Allen in the sectionals, and the Wolves earned a top finish with a 41.73. Additionally, Brunswick’s Riyon Rankin has earned national praise in the high jump, and he cleared a national-best 7 feet again at the sectionals. He will aim for his first state title after last year’s third-place finish (6-6).

On the girls side, the sprints will be headlined by Westlake’s Collen Branch and Imari Johnson, Tucker’s Mallory Hodge, Lakeside-Evans Anetra Graham and Alexander’s Adaejah Hodge. Branch won the 100. Hodge finished runner-up in the 100, earned first in the 200 and is fresh off a top finish in the 400 this past weekend at sectionals with a 55.09. Westlake also features junior Jasmine Harmon, who won both hurdles events at sectionals last weekend with a 13.95 (110 meter) and 42.78 (330).

Blessed Trinity won its first boys track and field state title last year in Class 5A, and the Woodward girls earned their third all-time state title. Class 4A saw the Stephenson boys win their first since 2002, and the Marist girls snapped a championship drought dating to 2013. The Westminster boys and Greater Atlanta Christian girls will aim to defend their Class 3A titles, and the Pace Academy boys and Oglethorpe County girls will have to hold off a wide-open Class 2A field.

The Hebron Christian girls joined Oglethorpe County and Blessed Trinity as first-time state champions last year and will be back in Class A Private with two-time defending boys state champion Landmark Christian. Finally, the Commerce boys and Gordon Lee girls are both looking for a third straight state title this weekend.