Callaway runs strong at state

Published 10:20 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

ROME – He took the handoff, got a firm grasp on the baton, and set his sights on the finish line.

In the final event of the Class AA state track and field meet in Rome, Callaway’s 1,600-meter relay team was competing alongside seven other elite teams.

Antinez Blount was selected to run the anchor leg, and he was ready to roll when he took the handoff from Tely Fanning.

Blount came through with a blistering anchor leg and chased down a few competitors to give his team a third-place finish, putting a cap on a memorable state meet for Callaway.

Callaway placed in 10 different events in the three-day competition that was held at Berry College in Rome.

Saturday’s first events were held with a steady rain falling down, but by the time 1,600-meter relay teams made their way onto the track the sky was clear and the sun was shining.

Larry Davis ran the opening leg for Callaway, and Osiris Rivas and Tely Fanning were next onto the track before Blount finished things off.

“I was trying my best,” said Blount, who also finished sixth in the high jump. “I knew my team was depending on me. We made it this far, I had to give it all I had.”

Callaway needed a break just to make it into the finals.

The Cavaliers had the 10th-best time in qualifying, but since two teams were disqualified, they made it into the eight-team field for the finals.

“We’ve been trying to get that relay together,” Callaway head coach Melissa McDonald said. “And today, we figured we would put Osiris in the middle. Larry was first, and then Tely, and then Antinez. We figured Antinez would have the freshest legs. So today was all about strategy, and they were ready.”

It was the final high-school event for Fanning and Smith, who along with Curmondre Bray were the only Callaway seniors competing at state.

Fanning was an all-state linebacker in football, and McDonald said he’s an anchor of the team.

“Tely, he’s been pushing and wanting this,” McDonald said. “He’s very tenacious. He’s got the heart of a lion. You can’t train that. He brings that energy, and he gives it to his teammates.”

Callaway’s girls’ 400-meter relay team also delivered a memorable performance at state.

Aniyah Simpson, Markiya Harris, Leijorey Sanders and Niakoe Burks raced to a third-place finish, and they’ll all return next season.

“That relay team, they’re going to be tough,” McDonald said. “I heard them talking about next year I want to do this. So they’re already preparing. It’s amazing.”

Callaway’s top individual performance came from Aniyah Simpson, who finished third in the 400-meter run with a time of 1:00.16.

Also for Callaway, Markiya Harris was fifth in the 200-meter dash (25.78), and freshman Niakoe Burks was sixth in the 100-meter dash (12.64) after posting the best time in qualifying.

On the boys’ side, Curmondre Bray capped his high-school career by finishing fifth in the 200-meter dash (22.63). Osiris Rivas also came through with a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter run (50.58), and Larry Davis was seventh in the 800-meter run (2:04).

In the field events, Callaway had two state placers.

Niakoe Burks finished fourth in the high jump (16-11), and Blount was sixth in the high jump (6-0).

Darrick Williams (100-meter dash) and Elliott Smith (high jump) also competed in the state finals.

While some competitors didn’t finish as high as they’d hoped to, McDonald stressed to each of them that there was no reason to be disappointed.

“Nobody’s a loser here,” McDonald said. “There are people at home that didn’t make it out of sectional. It was a good showing. And to hear them say stuff like I’m going to ask this person to run next year, it’s overwhelming.”

McDonald added that “I’m so glad they got to experience this. I’m so glad we were able to come and be a part of this.”