Stellar sports year for LaGrange, Troup
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – When the state golf tournament ended last week, it put the wraps on a remarkably successful 10 months for the sports teams from LaGrange High.
With very few exceptions, LaGrange’s teams and athletes excelled on the playing field, and that was reflected in the final Georgia Athletic Director’s Association Director’s Cup standings.
The 2016-2017 Georgia High School Association sports year ended on Monday when Pope beat Lee County to win the Class AAAAAA state baseball championship.
The Director’s Cup measures the overall success of a school’s sports program, with points given to teams and individuals that make it to the various state competitions.
More points are awarded the further a team or individual advances at state.
In Region 5-AAAA, LaGrange had the most points of any of the seven schools.
Cartersville finished close behind LaGrange in second place, and it was followed by Chapel Hill, Sandy Creek, Troup, Central-Carroll and Cedartown.
Overall in Class AAAA, LaGrange finished 11th overall, while Troup was 29th.
For LaGrange, the storyline was the school’s all-around success.
LaGrange accumulated points in 13 sports, and four of its teams made it at least as far as the state quarterfinals.
LaGrange’s cheerleading team, which finished third in the state, earned the most points of any of the school’s teams, and Allie Paschal won a state championship in swimming.
For Troup, the cheerleading team had a fourth-place finish at state, and it earned the most points of any of the school’s teams.
Troup’s wrestling team also had a successful season and had the most points of any of the boys’ sports teams.
For LaGrange, the spring was a particularly fruitful time, with all of the teams enjoying a great deal of success, and the boys’ tennis team and baseball team each made it to the final four.
The winter and fall teams also fared well, with the boys’ basketball team making it to the elite eight, while the cheerleading team made a run at a state championship.
“I think about all of the hours of mentoring, training, guidance, and just playing the sport passionately,” said LaGrange athletic director Mike Pauley, who hired many of the head coaches on staff. “You put all that leadership and service stuff out there, and it’s pretty exciting to watch what each of these teams did for each other.”
Pauley added that the “coaches created a culture this year where the teams really pulled for each other, and you could tell.”
LaGrange’s cheerleading team earned 85 points for its third-place finish in the state meet in Columbus, capping a sensational season.
Also enjoying big seasons were the boys’ tennis and baseball teams who each made it to the final four where they each lost to Marist.
Marist went on to win state titles in both sports.
On the basketball court, LaGrange’s boys’ team won a region championship and made it to the state quarterfinals.
LaGrange’s girls’ basketball team, which finished second in the region, made it to the second round of the state tournament.
In girls’ soccer, it was a special season for the Lady Grangers, who won a region title and reached the elite eight before falling to Jefferson on penalty kicks.
LaGrange’s boys’ soccer team and girls’ tennis team each made it to the state tournament, and the wrestling team won a match in the state duals.
In golf, the LaGrange boys’ team won a region title and finished 12th in the state, and Blakely Arp finished 11th in the girls’ state tournament.
In swimming, Allie Paschal capped a remarkable high-school career in style with a state title in the 100-yard backstroke, and she was second in the 50-yard freestyle.
In track and field, Jada Grant finished fourth in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump.
During the fall, LaGrange’s girls’ cross-country team made it to the state meet in Carrollton.
For Troup, the cheerleading team came through with a second straight top-10 finish at the state meet.
After placing sixth at the state meet in 2015, Troup was even better last fall with a fourth-place finish.
“They’ve had a great season,” Troup head coach Amelia Key said. “They put together one of the most entertaining, difficult routines in the state. People enjoyed watching them. They were proud of their accomplishments.”
Also making a nice run at a state was Troup’s wrestling team, which went 4-2 at the state duals and placed fourth.
In the traditional state tournament, four Troup wrestlers earned places on the podium, and that included Chase Seals, who placed second.
Scott Hicks was third, Byron Butts was fourth, and Brantly Robinson finished sixth.
It was an historic season for Troup’s volleyball team, which beat Burke County in the first round of the state tournament before falling to Ridgeland.
It was the first state win in the history of the school’s volleyball program.
Also making it to the second round of the state tournament after winning a region title was Troup’s baseball team, while the football team, boys’ basketball team, girls’ basketball team, and boys’ soccer team each made it to state.
The football team finished second in its region and went 8-3 one year after managing just one win.
In track and field, Troup freshman Markiya Harris finished seventh at the state meet in the 100-meter dash.
1 – LaGrange (692), 2 – Cartersville (657), 3 – Chapel Hill (600.5), 4 – Sandy Creek (536), 5 – Troup (379), 6 – Central-Carrll (358), 7 – Cedartown (343.5)
1 – Cartersville (385), 2 – LaGrange (368), 3 – Sandy Creek (317), 4 – Troup (211), 5 – Chapel Hill (164), 6 – Cedartown (132), 7 – Central-Carroll (81)
1 – Chapel Hill (436), 2 – LaGrange (324), 3 – Central-Carroll (277), 4 – Cartersville (272), Sandy Creek (219), Cedartown (211), Troup (169)