LaGrange finishes year with big spring
Published 12:12 am Saturday, June 1, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a strong closing stretch for LaGrange High.
Thanks to a productive spring that included an individual state championship and some impressive performances in the state playoffs, LaGrange surged to second in the final Director’s Cup standings in Region 5-AAAA.
The Georgia Athletic Director’s Association Director’s Cup awards points in each sport, and the more successful a team or an individual is, the more points they receive.
LaGrange finished the 2018-2019 school year with 534 points, and all but 163 points were earned during what was a phenomenal spring sports season.
Cartersville had the most points among the region’s teams, and LaGrange and Sandy Creek finished tied for second.
LaGrange’s girls’ tennis team, which reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament, was responsible for 70 of those points.
After finishing second in the region, LaGrange beat Oconee County and Heritage-Catoosa before falling to Columbus in the quarterfinals.
LaGrange’s girls’ track team earned 66 points thanks to a memorable showing in the state meet in Albany.
Jada Grant, who has signed a track and field scholarship with Mississippi State, won a state championship in the long jump, and she was second in the triple jump.
Grant was also seventh in the 100-meter dash, and she was a member of the 400-meter relay team that placed seventh.
Grant has been one of the state’s best jumpers since her freshman season, and she was able to close her prep career with a long-awaited state title.
Grant’s winning jump came on her final attempt.
“The girl before me had just passed my jump,” Grant said. “I wasn’t going to get beat again. I couldn’t let that happen. So I had to calm down, not stress about it, and just give it my all, and it happened.”
Another state placer for LaGrange was Renaya Edmondson, who was sixth in the discus, and Annaya Chelcy was seventh in the 200-meter dash.
Grant, Chelcy, Quay Robinson and Zakeria Staples finished seventh in the 400-meter relay.
Also during the spring, LaGrange got 106 points from the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams that made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
Both LaGrange teams won region championship before prevailing in the first round of the playoffs.
LaGrange’s girls’ team outlasted Stephens County 2-1 in the first round before falling to Blessed Trinity 6-1 in round two.
“It started in November, and it’s the commitment that we have,” LaGrange head coach Colin Ross said, reflecting on the work ethic of the players. “Probably eight of these girls were here for every conditioning. It showed. We won a lot of big games.
LaGrange’s boys’ team held on to beat North Oconee 3-2 in a first-round matchup before losing to Marist 3-0.
“We fought as hard as we could for as long as we could,” LaGrange coach Shane Pulliam said. “We just met a better team. They’re consistent. They play a tough schedule. We’re getting closer, and we’re going to use this as a springboard to work on next year.”
Also during the spring, LaGrange’s baseball team went on the road and beat Stephens County in the opening round of the state playoffs before losing to Blessed Trinity.
It was a successful playoff run, but head coach Donnie Branch wants more.
Branch won more than 400 games during his first tenure as LaGrange’s coach, and he’s eager to get the program back on top.
“Coming back to coach, I didn’t come back to have a good year,” Branch said. “I didn’t come back to win a playoff series. I came back to put out a top-five baseball program at LaGrange High every year. If you’re a top-five team, you’ve got a shot. This is a nice step, and we’ve got a lot of kids coming back. What our seniors have done has helped build that foundation.”
LaGrange’s girls’ golf team, which finished 13th in the state tournament, earned 51 points.
Sophomore Sydney Ormsby led the way with a 13th-place finish.
LaGrange’s boys’ tennis team earned 53 points to reaching the state tournament where it lost to St. Pius X in the first round.
During the fall, LaGrange’s boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams both had successful seasons to earn 60 points apiece.
Both teams finished 10th in the state meet in Carrollton in November.
Alex Bowie led the boys’ team with a 29th-place finish, and freshman Ivorie Smith was 44th for the girls’ team.
It was also a successful fall for LaGrange’s softball team, which lost to Oconee County in the first round of the state playoffs.
It went to a game three before LaGrange dropped 5-4, extra-inning heart-breaker.
During the winter sports season, LaGrange’s lone points came from wrestling.
LaGrange had six wrestlers make it through to the state finals, and Isaiah Coleman (106 pounds), Hunter Brooks (120 pounds), Matt Callaway (132 pounds) and Colton Clines (160 pounds) each won a match.
LaGrange’s other state participants were Charles Ray (285 pounds) and Colin Cavender (138 pounds).
Cross country – 60
Baseball – 53
Soccer – 53
Tennis – 25
Wrestling – 18
Tennis – 70
Track – 66
Cross country – 60
Soccer – 53
Golf – 51