With gusty winds marring an otherwise perfect spring day, the Region 8-AAAA track and field championship produced some surprising results for the Conyers area high school teams. After the completion of the field events at the Monroe Area Stadium on Wednesday evening, Heritage sits in sixth place in the 11-team region while Rockdale County is in seventh and Salem tied for ninth.
Leading the way going into the finals of the track events on Friday is Cedar Shoals of Athens with 37 points total. Heritage has 20 points, Rockdale County 19 and Salem 10.
"It wasn't what we were hoping for today," Heritage coach Scott Wade said. "We had a couple of guys miss state. That hurts."
Perhaps the most surprising and disappointing result was a second-place tie in the pole vault for senior Morgan Tabb of Heritage. Tabb, who cleared 13-7 earlier this year, also lost a jump-off the second spot and a trip to the state meet when he scratched on 12-3 after Casey Rogers of Winder-Barrow had cleared it just moments earlier.
"I just never got comfortable," a dejected Tabb said. "My steps were off on that last jump and I tried to stop but couldn't." The event was won in an upset by junior Nathan Prestridge of Cedar Shoals, who was the only vaulter to clear 12-6. Rogers and Tabb cleared 12 feet but missed on all three attempts at 12-6 before the jump-off at 12-3. Heritage also got points in this event when Karl Holsberger had a personal best 11-0 clearance for sixth place.
On a more positive note, Tyler Askew of Salem continued his winning ways in the long jump by taking first place with a leap of 21-2. He bested the efforts of two Madison County long jumpers, Jamal Cooper and Kendrick Butler, who finished second and third.
"It was tough with the wind right in our faces," Askew said. "But I somehow got it done and now I get to go to state. I will have to jump 23 feet to place there and 22-7 is my personal best so far this year."
Jonathan Sanford of Rockdale County finished fifth in the long jump with a 20-2 effort and Martell Jones of Heritage scored a point in the event with an eighth place jump of 19-5.
In the discus event, Xavier Molette of Rockdale County finished second with a throw of 142-5. He waited until his last throw to qualify for state and was sitting way back in ninth place before the clutch hurl.
"Man, I was nervous and just had a lot of pressure beating me down," Molette said, smiling. "But I just got calmed down, I got off to myself and just let it happen with a good throw."
Rockdale County coach Richard Preston added, "It was not Xavier's best outing this year but it was his last throw that was the key. He had to have it, and now he gets to throw another day."
Molette also scored points for the Bulldogs with a fifth-place finish in the shot put at a distance of 45-5. Rockdale County teammate Tarik Dudley scored two points for his team with a seventh-place put of 43-5.
Heritage also got points from Rufus Jenkins in the triple jump with a fifth-place performance of 41-9. Rockdale County's Sanford also scored a point in the triple jump with an eighth-place finish at 41-1. And Heritage's Jones scored more points for the Patriots by finishing fourth in the high jump with a 6-0 clearance.
The meet will conclude Friday at Monroe County with the running events finals. The competition is set to begin at 4 pm.
Region 8-AAAA Track and Field Meet
Monroe Area High School Stadium
1. Kalen Jones, Habersham Central, 51-10, 2. Derr Latimore, Cedar Shoals, 48-2, 3. Storm Johnson, Loganville, 47-3, 4. Terik Bradshaw, Clarke Central, 46-9, 5. Xavier Mollette, Rockdale County, 45-5, 6. Delotone Giles, Monroe Area, 43-11, 7. Tarik Dudley, Rockdale County, 43-5, 8. Torrence Callaway, Cedar Shoals, 43-3.
1.Dennis Whitley, Apalachee, 6-6, 2. Justin Fleming, Habersham Central, 6-4, 3. Martavious Huff, Clarke Central, 6-0, 4. Martell Jones, Heritage, 6-0, 5. Jordan McLaughlin, Loganville, 6-0, 6. Calob Morris, Loganville, 5-10, 7. Tray Bush, Cedar Shoals, 5-10, 8. Paris Allen, Clarke Central, 5-10.
1. Tyler Askew, Salem, 21-2, 2. Jamal Cooper, Madison County, 20-9, 3. Kendrick Butler, Madison County, 20-7, 4. Trent Robinson, Loganville, 20-6, 5. Jonathan Sanford, Rockdale County, 20-2, 6. Franklin Johnson, Cedar Shoals, 20-0, 7. Chad Witcher, Clarke Central, 19-6, 8. Martell Jones, Heritage, 19-5.
1. Nathan Prestridge, Clarke Central, 12-6, 2. Casey Rogers, Winder-Barrow, 12-0, 2. Morgan Tabb, Heritage, 12-0, 4. Jeffery Hicks, Madison County, 11-6, 5. Tyler Mitchell, Loganville, 11-6, 6. Karl Holsberger, Heritage, 11-0, 7. Quentin Williams, Cedar Shoals, 10-6, 8. Derrell Dukes, Madison County, 10-6.
1. Nick MacMillan, Habersham Central, 146-5, 2. Xavier Molette, Rockdale County, 142-5, 3. Cedell Long, Winder-Barrow, 139-8, 4. DeDe Latimore, Cedar Shoals, 137-6, 5. Andrew Perry, Habersham Central, 133-2, 6. Damien Bennett, Monroe Area, 132-6, 7. Matt Dove, Madison County, 131-1, 8. Terrence Bradshaw, Clarke Central, 131-0.
1. Bubba Freeman, Cedar Shoals, 44-1, 2. Trent Robinson, Loganville, 43-5, 3. James Gordon, Cedar Shoals, 42-10, 4. Babatunde Olumuyima, Clarke Central, 42-7,
5. Rufus Jenkins, Heritage, 41-9, 6. Kendrick Butler, Madison County, 41-7, 7. Chad Witcher, Clarke Central, 41-3, 8. Jonathan Sanford, Rockdale County, 41-1.
(Through Wednesday's Field Events)
1. Cedar Shoals, 37, 2. Clarke County, 32, 2. Habersham Central, 32, 4. Loganville, 30, 5. Madison County, 25, 6. Heritage, 20, 7. Rockdale County, 19, 8. Winder-Barrow, 14, 9. Salem, 10, 9. Apalachee, 10, 11. Monroe Area, 6.