Newton girls lead after first day of Region 2-AAAAA track meet
Marks wins triple jump contest; Ransom claims pole vault

ATLANTA - The Newton girls caught the attention of the their opponents in the Region 2-AAAAA track meet after qualifying three for the state meet and finishing in the lead after the first day at Lakewood Stadium on Tuesday.

After one day of events, the Lady Rams earned 54 points to lead the field, while the Newtonboys have 33.5 points for third.

Shay Marks won the triple jump with a distance of 37 feet, 7 inches. Also heading to state are Ameryst Armstead who finished second in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12 minutes, 34.48 seconds and Keycia Thompson who placed second in the pole vault at 7 feet.

Newton's Tyler Ransom won the boys pole vault competition, clearing the bar at 11 feet, 6 inches.

The Lady Rams have a chance to add to their points and send more girls to state as they participate in six of the eight track events starting at 5 p.m. today.

Marks qualified for the track events in the 100 running the heat in 12.60 seconds.

"We qualified for the finals in six events. At this point, I'd be happy to see Shay qualify for state in the 100," Newton girls coach Aaron Robinson said. "I'd like to see Ameryst repeat in the 1,600 again this year. That's going to take everything they have to do that."

Also qualifying for the track events were Danielle Manning in the 200 meters, Crystal Gee in the 400 meters, Taylor Ferguson in the 100 hurdles and the 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

The Lady Rams had seven girls score points in the field events but failed to qualify for state.

Marks had a third place finish in the long jump, in which she missed going to state by fewer than three inches. She had a jump of 18 feet, 51/4 inches, while Luella's Aria Gaines beat her out with a jump of 18 feet, 71/2 inches.

"She's never won both (triple jump and long jump) and that was a goal. She jumped 18-8 in the long jump, her personal best, and that was only good for third in this region," Robinson said.

Chaconna Marks had a third place finish in the discus (105-4) and a sixth place finish in the shot put (33-0). Hernequeia Nolley came in third in the pole vault at 6-6.

Shandria Usher (97-6) was fourth in the discus, while Valenzia Shepherd (5-2) was fourth in the high jump.

Besides Ransom's first-place finish, the Newton boys had six finish in the top six in the field events and will have seven participating in the track finals.

Travis Knight finished in third in the 1,600 (4:36.99) and missed going to state by .39 seconds. Will Martin took third in the pole vault.

"We had goals and so far we've exceed the expectations," Newton boys coach Eddie Hood said. "We had good contributions in the pole vault and Travis had a (personal record) by six seconds getting third and almost making it to state."

Finishing fourth for Newton were Greg Armstead (high jump) and Brian Forde (discus). Coming in fifth for Newton were Jamon Hawkins (high jump) and Omar Crawley (long jump).

"In the discus, Brian did a good job," Hood said. "In the high jump we had two guys clear 6-2. That's the highest since Paul Graham's 6-4 that won the region."

Crawley had a jump of 21- 41/2, while Forde threw the discus 133-41/2.

Qualifying for the finals in the 800 were Yvens Joseph and Malik Fundica. Newton sprinter Kegan Marks advanced in both the 100 and 200. Devon Copeland and Crawley will compete in the 400.

Newton's 1,600 relay team earned the final spot with a time of 3:31.50.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.