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Molette leads Bulldogs with third-place throw

JEFFERSON - Rockdale County junior Xavier Molette seems to do his best when the pressure is greatest.

He had a personal best throw of 152 feet, 11 inches to finish third in the AAAA discus to lead the way for Newton and Rockdale County participants in the 38th Georgia Olympics Boys Track and Field Championship on a warm and muggy Thursday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.

"I felt way better today than I did at the regional meet," Molette said with a smile after the competition concluded. "I just felt relaxed because I think there is more pressure to get to state than competing today. I've made a lot of improvement and I am happy with my throw today."

Molette's throw was bested by the winning effort of 181-1 by Davis Fraker of McIntosh and a second-place distance of 154-0 by Burke McCarthy of Marist. Fraker's throw set a new AAAA state record, besting one that stood for 32 years.

"Xavier has been working hard," Rockdale County coach Mike Etheridge said. "He has been helped by coach Preston (Richard) and slowed his motion down. And he saves his best for the pressure situations. That says a lot about him."

In the only running final on the first day, Heritage senior Jake Hudson made a spirited effort to win the 1,600 meters but came up short, finishing third behind A.J. Meyer of Northwest Whitfield and runner-up Vince Brown of McIntosh. Finishing seventh in the same race was Heritage senior Aaron Worthy. Both Patriot runners will get to try again today and Saturday with Hudson in the 3,200 meters and Worty in the 800 meters and the 1,600-meter relay.

Earlier in the day, Salem junior Tyler Askew found himself involved in the most glamorous event of the day. Askew was representing Region 8-AAAA in the long jump because of his winning effort last month at the regional meet in Monroe.

Not able to "get any height," Askew still managed to qualify for the finals and finished seventh with a leap of 21-113/4. And while disappointed, he had a front-row seat to see the state record in the event shattered by a soaring Stephen Hill of Miller Grove. Saving his best for last, Hill jumped 25-83/4 inches. He broke the previous record by more that a foot and now owns the all-classification record for Georgia high school track and field.

"That was a great jump," Askew sighed. "I've done better this year but just didn't quite have it today. I just couldn't get any height on my jumps."

Askew's seventh-place finish was matched in the AAAA high jump by Gary Wilkins of Alcovy, who cleared 6-2 and in the AAA high jump competition by Anderico Bailey of Eastside with a jump of 6-2. The AAAA winner was Graylin Ward of Northgate with a 6-8 jump, while the winner of the AAA event, Darius King of Riverwood, jumped an outstanding 7-0. That mark was still shy of the AAA state record of 7-31/2 set back in 1983 by Dothel Edwards of Cedar Shoals. Edwards still holds the national high school record of 7-51/4 set in 1984.

Records and traditions play a large role in the annual meet in this former North Georgia hamlet that is rapidly becoming a bedroom community of Atlanta. The holder of eight track and field championships, Jefferson has hosted the state boys championships for 38 years.

"It's a community endeavor," Georgia High School Association's Gary Phillips said. "It takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of officials all working together."

Other Rockdale and Newton County athletes competing the first day but not placing were Tyler Ranson of Newton in the AAAAA pole vault, Brian Forde of Newton in the AAAAA discus, Jamal Toney of Alcovy in the AAAA discus, Jameel Abdul-Mateen of Alcovy in the AAAA long jump, Gary Wilkins of Alcovy in the AAAA high jump and Karl Williams of Eastside in the AAA discus. Dominique Hubert of Eastside dropped out of the AAA long jump because of a tender leg injury that he will test in the 100-meter run today and hopefully in the finals on Saturday.

The state meet continues today with the track preliminaries. The track finals will conclude the meet Saturday.