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Fast starts get results
Good first day leads Patriots, Lady Rams to Citizen Challenge wins

COVINGTON - The Heritage boys and the Newton girls set the tone for the fourth annual Citizen Challenge with strong performances in the field events on the first day.

On the second day, both squads did just enough to wrap up the victories.

The Newton girls opened up a 33-point lead over Alcovy on the first day. The key was strong peformances in the field events.

Shandria Usher and Chaconna Marks set the tone for the Lady Rams by claiming first and second in the shot put - the first girls event.

Shay Marks and Alia Griffith followed up the shot put effort with a one-two sweep in the long jump, giving Newton a quick 36 points after two events.

Newton's Ameryst Armstead added another victory in the 3,200-meter run in the first of two events on the opening day.

In the discus, Chaconna Marks took first and Usher finished third to give the Lady Rams 16 more points.

Shay Marks and Loren Wilkins finished off the first day by sweeping first and second in the triple jump, giving Newton 18 more points.

"To take first and second in several of those field events was a big plus. We took first and second in the shot, first and third in the discus, first and second in the long jump and first and second in the triple jump," Newton girls coach Aaron Robinson said. "It really started us out in a good spot. We held our own in the running events. I was pleased all around with our peformances. We've got a lot of things we still need to work on, but this is one of our key regular season meets. After this, it's mainly region that we're preparing for."

If one athlete set the tone for Newton, it was senior Shay Marks.In her first event, she broke her own record in the long jump and then followed it up with a record-breaking effort in the triple jump.

On the second day, she collected her third individual victory of the meet in the 100-meter dash. She also ran the anchor leg on Newton's winning 400-meter relay team.

All told, she accounted for 33.5 of Newton's 134 total points.

"Shay is unbelievable. She just gets better and better, and it sounds funny, but with room for improvement," Robinson said. "She's just a special athlete, and we're going to miss her when she's gone. She finished first in four events, and, in her fifth event, she finished fourth. It was just a great effort on her part."

For the Heritage boys, the story was much the same. The Patriots opened up a 21.5-point lead on the first day, scoring points in every event except the triple jump.

"Actually, yesterday (Monday) was the difference for us and then the hurdles were a real surprise for us," Heritage boys coach Hal Fairbanks said. "I think we were up by 30 (points) at one time (Tuesday), so all we had to do was hold that lead. The distance kids and the relays were big for us. We held in those events better than we thought we would."

On the first day, the pole vault and 3,200-meter run were key events for the Patriots. Shuaib Winters and Jake Hudson took first and third in the 3,200, while Morgan Tabb and Sage LaRue claimed first and third in the pole vault.

Mikel Hunter added a third vitory for Heritage in the high jump.

On the second day, Winters and Hudson finished first and second in the 1,600-meter run, the second event of the day, to push Heritage's lead out to 32.5 points.

Brian Allen and Edrick Woods wrapped up the victory for Heritage by finishing second and third in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Allen also placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles.

See Friday's Citizen for complete meet results and a look at the new records set in the event.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.