COVINGTON - A diamond in the rough.
That's what Georgia State got after signing Newton's Shay Marks to a track and field scholarship.
"I think that they're getting a great bargain and some of the other schools might kick themselves for not having swept her up sooner," Newton girls track coach Aaron Robinson said.
Some of the other schools which were interested in Marks included the University of Georgia, Navy, Georgia Southern, Bethune-Cookman, Charleston Southern, Austin Peay and Western Kentucky.
But it was Georgia State that landed the Newton track star.
Although Marks liked the Georgia State campus, she also liked the coaches and said that with their help she might be able make it to the Olympics someday.
"They have good coaches, so I'm trying to get a real good jump and maybe one day go to the Olympics," Marks said. "I feel that if I get a coach that specializes in triple jump, he could help me get a better jump."
Marks said that in order to be a serious consideration she will need to be close to the 25-foot mark in the long jump and 43 feet for the triple jump.
She currently holds the Newton school record in the long jump and triple jump.
As a mater of fact, Marks has the longest triple jump in the state for 2008 when she jumped 38-8 in the Newton/Rockdale Citizen Championship.
Her closest competitor is Luella's Aria Gaines who jumped 38-01.5 at a Westminster on March 5.
Even though Marks has broken and reclaimed various records for Newton, it questionable whether she reached her full potential in high school.
"We stayed well behind her physical limits. I would rather undertrain an athlete then overtrain an athlete," Robinson said. "I like for them to keep that competitive fire. I think it's the responsibility of high school coaches to develop them to be ready to improve more when they get to college and not to get everything they can out of them while they're in high school. I think that's a bad way to approach coaching."
Robinson went on to explain how a lot of times high school athletes get burned out by the time they reach the collegiate level. While every coach would like to have Olympic-quality athletes on their team, their bodies, muscles and minds are not developed enough to put them at that level.
"You get them developed enough as to where they still enjoy it and they go into college still competitive," Robinson said.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.