LaGrange track team stands tall
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They sprinted away from the competition.
LaGrange High’s girls’ track team, with speedsters Jada Grant and Annaya Chelcy leading the way, raced to the top spot in the Christian Taylor Invitational on Saturday in Tyrone.
It was also a winning day for some future Grangers, with Gardner Newman’s girls’ team grabbing first place in the middle-school event.
In the high-school race, the depth of talent on the LaGrange girls’ team was on display.
Twelve different LaGrange competitors earned top-10 finishes, including Grant and Chelcy, who helped the team excel in the sprint events.
LaGrange also had placers in the distance running events, as well as the field events.
Add it all up, and LaGrange was the big winner.
With 110 points, LaGrange finished 10 points ahead of traditional powerhouse Sandy Creek, and those two teams will square off again in the Region 5-AAAA meet.
The next closest team, Whitewater, only had 42 points.
In the middle-school competition, Gardner Newnan’s girls’ team enjoyed a dominant afternoon with 177 points, and it finished 100 points ahead of the second-place finisher.
Grant, a senior who has been among the state’s best long-jumpers since her freshman season, placed first in that event on Saturday with a jump of 18 feet, 2.5 inches.
Grant also showed off her speed by winning the 100-meter sprint with a time of 12.46 seconds, which was less than 10 seconds better than her teammate, Chelcy.
Throw in a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash, and a second-place finish in the 400-meter relay, and it was quite a day for Grant, who is having a phenomenal senior season.
“I want to (have a personal record) at every meet,” Grant said. “So far I’ve been doing that. That’s my goal.”
Chelcy had a banner day in her own right.
In addition to her near-miss in the 100, Chelcy was fourth in the 200, and she was on the 400 relay team that placed second.
“I did the best I’ve done all season,” Chelcy said. “I’ve been kind of slow. I came close to my PR from last year in the 100. I should beat that (today in Columbus). I hope so.”
Another LaGrange standout was Renaya Edmondson, who won the discus event and was fourth in the shot put.
Also for LaGrange, Quay Robinson earned a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter run, and she was fifth in the high jump.
Zakeria Staples raced to a second-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles, and she was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles.
WaWa Benn earned a fourth-place finish in the 100 hurdles, and Kamari Owens was eighth in that event while also placing eighth in the long jump.
LaGrange exceled in the distance events as well, with Zamya Rhaney placing sixth in the 800-meter run, while Zanay Rhaney was eighth in the 1,600-meter run.
In the triple jump, Shacarla Barrett and Ivorie Smith were sixth and seventh, respectively.
Quinyata Maddox gave LaGrange 10th-place finishes in both hurdle events.
Also, LaGrange’s 1,600-meter relay team of Robinson, Chelcy, Staples and Smith placed third.
It was an exceptional day for LaGrange, and it showed off the team’s depth of talent in so many events.
Two of the team members who have been getting it done for four years are Grant and Chelcy.
They began competing together at Gardner Newman, and for the past four springs they’ve been teammates at LaGrange.
Grant, a state placer in the past in the high jump, wants to make the most of her senior season, so she put in the time and effort during the offseason.
“I’ve been working out since August,” Grant said. “I was trying to come out ready to go.”
While Grant is best known for her prowess in the long jump, she has shown she’s no slouch in the running events either.
“I like them both,” Grant said. “The 100 is different from jumping, because I’m with a whole group of people. When I’m jumping, I’m by myself.”
Grant enjoys being surrounded by so many talented and committed teammates, and she said “it’s fun competing at practice. If you do good at practice, you’ll do good at a meet.”
Chelcy considers the 200 to be her best event, but she’s been strong in the 100 as well.
In both events, Chelcy said “you just want to improve each meet.”
Unlike Grant, Chelcy hasn’t shown much interest in the field events over the years, choosing instead to focus on her running.
“I haven’t worked on any of the field events,” Chelcy said. “I’ve done it a couple of times at a meet. It’s not my thing.”
LaGrange’s boys’ team didn’t have any individual champions, but it did have some high finishers.
In the pole vault, Matthew Callaway soared to a third-place finish.
Miller Penn was sixth in the 3,200-meter run, and Alex Bowie placed seventh in the 800-meter run.
In the middle-school competition, Gardner Newman’s girls team had a dominant day on the way to the championship.
Gardner Newman won both of the relays.
In the 400 relay, Zamaya Thornton, Jazziah Kennedy, Nina Brooks and JaLisa Kimbrough teamed up for the victory.
Kimbrough, Kennedy, Alyssa Rhaney, Sophie Niz won the 1,600 relay.
One of the team’s top individual performers was JaLisa Kimbrough, who had five top-five finishes.
Kimbrough won the 400-meter run, and she was second in the high jump, third in the 100, fifth in the 200, and sixth in the triple jump.
Jazziah Kenney had a strong showing as well with a win the 300 hurdles, a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles, and a fourth-place showing in the 100.
Chrissy Thomas was first in the shot put and second in the discus, Zamaya Thornton won the high jump, and Nina Brooks placed second in the triple jump.
Alexis Wingenbach gave Gardner Newman a second-place finish in the 3,200, and she was fourth in the 1,600 and sixth in the 800.
Alyssa Rhaney and Sophie Nix also exceled in the distance events.
Rhaney was second in the 800, third in the 3,200, and fifth in the 1,600.
Nix surged to a third-place finish in the 800, and she was fourth in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600.
Zamaya Thornton gave Gardner Newman a fourth-place finish in the 400,
Gardner Newman’s boys’ team had an excellent performance in finishing second.
Gardner Newman raced away with the top spot in both relay races.
In the 400 relay, it was Marquez Hall, Baakari Willaby, Donovan Fountain and Magic Johnson teaming up for the victory.
Marcus Jones, Desmond Cockfield, Fountain and Johnson and won the 1,600 relay.
From an individual standpoint, Baakari Willaby outraced the competition to win the 100, and he was fourth in the 200.
Magic Johnson was second in the 100 and fifth in the 200, Marcus Jones was third in the 200, and Marquez Hall and Donovan Fountain were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100.
In the long jump, LaGrange had three of the top-four finishers.
Jalen Jordan finished first, Carlos Brown was second, and Evan Ashley finished fourth.
OF NOTE: For complete results, go to ga.milesplit.com and search for LaGrange High and Gardner Newman