MONROE - Heritage used a strong showing in the relay races and the machine-like distance running of seniors Jake Hudson and Aaron Worthy to slip past Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals and claim the Region 8 AAAA team championship Friday evening at Monroe Area Stadium.
The team championship is the second in the past three years for the Patriots and the accomplishment was not lost on coach Scott Wade.
"Whew, how do I start a sentence," Heritage coach Scott Wade said. "We didn't expect it. We knew there were several teams that could have won but everybody on the track for us today performed well. A lot of these kids today were on that team that won two years ago so they learned how to compete early on."
The meet culminated with the gleaming pink shoes of senior Reginald Juin churning out the final yards of a school-record 4x400 relay effort by Heritage to lock up the top prize. Juin was joined by teammates Andrew Connors, Miles Harris and Aaron Worthy for the winning time of 3:21.45, easily outdistancing Clarke Central.
"These are just my running shoes," a tired but happy Juin laughed. "I just work hard and try to run fast."
Setting the stage for the final relay race was an eye-catching performance by Hudson in the grueling 3200 meters run. He simply blew away the field and won by some 50 yards over second-place finisher Kenny Brooks of Loganville.
"It feels good, really good," Hudson smiled. "Except for my feet, they hurt."
And it's no wonder, because just about an hour earlier, the senior Patriot also won the 1,600 meters to account for 20 of Heritage's winning total of 98, 10 better than runner-up Clarke Central and 11 better than third-place Cedar Shoals, both schools from Athens.
His sterling performance was matched by Worthy, who won the 800 meters after finishing second to Hudson in the 1,600. With the temperature in the mid-80s, Worthy showed his strength by running a crucial leg in the final relay to cement the win for Heritage.
"With the pace of the meet, our stronger guys like Worthy came to the top," Wade added. "We have some strong athletes on this team."
For a good part of the final day, it looked like Clarke Central, behind twice-winning hurdler Marcus Maxey, or the deep and consistent Cedar Shoals might take the top prize. But Heritage began to turn the momentum with Juin's second-place efforts in both the 100 and 200 meters and the dominance of the distance races by Hudson and Worthy.
Juin's second-place finish in the 100 meters was unusual and reflected the "high-tech" era influence in today's high school track and field.
The glamour race was virtually a dead heat between three Conyers-area sprinters. Juin was bested by a camera shot that was discussed by a panel of coaches. The panel determined Rockdale County's Chris Royston won by a fraction with Salem's Tyler Askew a very close third.
Royston, a junior, was naturally elated at his good fortune.
"Me and Tyler and Reggie go at it all of the time and usually Tyler gets me, but not today. I work hard and this feels real good."
In the 200-meter dash, Juin was bested by Jamal Cooper of Madison County. Juin will get to compete in the state meet in May by finishing second in both sprints. The top two finishers in each event qualify for the state meet to be held in May in Jefferson.
The times in both the 100 and 200 meters were not indicative of the competition since both were run into a strong head wind.
"It was a good meet with good weather and some very fine performances by these young men," meet director and Monroe Area coach Ronnie Coleman said.
SideBar: Region 8 AAAA Boys Track
1,600 Meters Run
1. Jake Hudson, Heritage, 4:36.86, 2. Aaron Worthy, Heritage, 4:39.38, 3. Jazmond Taylor, Madison County, 4:55.02, 4. Kenny Brooks, Loganville, 4:56.81, 5. Joseph Richardson, Rockdale County, 4:57.83, 6. Spencer Cape, Monroe Area, 5:02.80, 7. Cary Hughes, Winder-Barrow, 5:06.89, 8. Michael Hamilton, Habersham County, 5:07.89.
4x100 Meters Relay
1. Clarke Central A, 41.99, 2. Madison County A, 42.14, 3. Rockdale County A, 42.61, 4. Salem A, 43.19, 5. Clarke Central B, 43.88, 6. Cedar Shoals B, 44.79.
400 Meters Race
1. Jamel Davis, Clarke Central, 49.62, 2. Tyrell Davis, Cedar Shoals, 50.23, 3. Corrie Roach, Rockdale County, 50.33, 4. Miles Harris, Heritage, 50.87, 5. Shamarius Mitchell, Cedar Shoals, 51.33, 6. Andrew Connors, Heritage, 52.62, 7. Cedric Bush, Madison County, 54.12, Johnson Paul, Apalachee, 54.94.
100 Meters Dash
1. Chris Royster, Rockdale County, 11:02, 2. Reginald Juin, Heritage, 11.03, 3. Tyler Askew, Salem, 11.05, 4. Andrew Eberhart, Cedar Shoals, 11.16, 5. D.J. Smith, Clarke Central, 11.22, 6. Rozzie Johnson, Winder-Barrow, 11.23, 7. Al Allen, Madison County, 11.41, 8. James Gordon, Cedar Shoals, 11.63.
110 Meters Hurdles
1.Marcus Maxey, Clarke Central, 14.69, 2. Dorian Powell-Harris, Rockdale County, 15.29, 3. Devise Blount, Loganville, 15.31, 4. Greg Outland, Monroe Area, 15.99, 5. Quentin Benford, Loganville, 16.39, 6. Donavan Carey, Madison County, 16.83, 7. Khairi Nash, Heritage, 16.96, 8. T.J. McGuire, Madison County, 17.14.
800 Meters Run
1. Aaron Worthy, Heritage, 2:00.60, 2. Jazmond Taylor, Madison County, 2:02.29, 3. Nolan Roberts, Rockdale County, 2:03.54, 4. Cole Rice, Loganville, 2:04.50, 5. Spencer Dykes, Cedar Shoals, 2:09.05, 6. Aaron Quade, Loganville, 2:09.53, 7. Jason Ye, Cedar Shoals, 2:10.38, 8. Miles Harris, Heritage, 2:20.13.
200 Meters Dash
1.Jamal Cooper, Madison County, 21.65, 2. Reginald Juin, Heritage, 21.78, 3. Quanshaun Watson, Clarke Central, 22.07, 4. Chris Royster, Rockdale County, 22.22, 5. D.J. Smith, Clarke Central, 22.71, 6. Tyler Askew, Salem, 23.25, 7. Tray Bush, Cedar Shoals, 23.70, 8. Andrew Eberhart, 24.27.
300 Meters Hurdles
1. Marcus Maxey, Clarke Central, 39.26, 2. Devise Blount, Loganville, 39.75, 3. Kendrick Butler, Madison County, 40.26, 4. T.J. McGuire, Madison County, 41.76, 5. Zamir Yisrael, Loganville, 41.81, 6. Khairi Nash, Heritage, 42.00, 7.Robert Smith, Rockdale County, 42.80, 8. Zak Roberts, Cedar Shoals, 43.40.
3,200 Meters Run
1. Jake Hudson, Heritage, 10:25.83, 2. Kenny Brooks, Loganville, 10:30.14, 3. Joseph Richardson, Rockdale County, 10:38.46, 4. Brent Garner, Monroe Area, 11:05.62, 5. Michael Hamilton, Habersham Central, 11:06.36, 6. Branson Sanders, Habersham Central, 11:14.98, 7. Harris Ahamed, Cedar Shoals, 11:18.64, 8. Khalif Cooper, Heritage, 11:25.33.
4x400 Meters Relay
1. Heritage A, 3:21.45, 2. Clarke Central A, 3:24.90, 3. Madison County A, 3:24.97, 4. Rockdale County A, 3:26.67, 5. Cedar Shoals A, 3:36.67, 6. Apalachee, 3:39.90,
7. Madison County B, 3:40.25, 8. Cedar Shoals B, 3:43.46.
Final Team Standings
1. Heritage, 98, 2. Clarke Central, 89, 3. Cedar Shoals, 88, 4. Madison County, 83, 5. Loganville, 79, 6. Rockdale County, 77, 7. Habersham Central, 30, 8. Salem, 24, 9. Monroe Area, 20, 10. Winder-Barrow, 19, 11. Apalachee, 14.