CARROLLTON — Lanier didn’t have a chance to send any competitors to the track at Grisham Stadium in Saturday’s sprint finals of the Class AAAAAA State Track and Field Championships until very late in the day.
But once the Longhorns did, they were able to make a big move in the team standings.
Zachary Charles and Nahil Perkins were the catalysts, finishing first and second, respectively, in the 300-meter hurdles, and then teaming with Tuari Claiborne and Isaiah Smith to place fourth in the 1,600 relay to vault the Longhorns into the top five with 29 points, just a half-point behind fourth-place and Gwinnett neighbor Dacula.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Charles said. “We’ve been running together since we were 9 or 10 years old. So just getting to run the race I love with one of my closest friends has been amazing.”
But while Charles and Perkins finished their 1-2 run in the 300 hurdles by a fairly comfortable margin, it was not without some drama when Perkins clipped the final hurdle and came down on his knee on the track.
However, he managed to keep the mishap from becoming a full spill and completed his run to finish second in a time of 38.79 seconds, just behind Charles’ winning time of 38.27.
He credited his work in contact drills while competing for Lanier’s football team in keeping his poise after the problem with the hurdle.
“I guess I just stayed tight,” Perkins said. “With football, they put me through stuff like this (in practice). So I just stayed tight when I got over the hurdle.”
Perkins received medical attention after the accident, but it wasn’t about to keep him from competing in the 1,600 relay less than an hour later.
“Yeah, I’m going to push through this,” Perkins said shortly after the awards ceremony for the 300 hurdles. “I don’t care about injuries. I’ve got to support my team.”
Great learning experience for Scott
Junior Christopher Scott was the focal point for Dacula’s boys during Saturday’s sprint event finals, placing fifth in the 200 after finishing sixth in the 100, as well as teaming with Jaylen Brown, Tevon Shuler and Christin Jones to place seventh in the 400 relay.
It wasn’t his first time in the spotlight after finishing fifth in the 400 at last year’s state meet.
However, Scott said his performances Saturday were a learning experience on a different level from what he had a year ago, one he hopes will serve him well during his senior season next year.
“I realize that putting the extra work in during practice and really getting those sprints in going 100 percent the whole time
will have you have better conditioning, and you can run the race better,” Scott said.
Falcons coach Emmett Watkins agrees that Scott should learn a lot from Saturday, and that the sky is the limit for him moving forward.
“He’s the anchor of our (400) relay team,” Watkins said. “His 100 and 200 (times) speak for themselves. We just wish we could’ve gotten our (1,600 relay) in. Chris would do a good job, hopefully, in leading that.”
The initial weather forecasts heading into Saturday’s sprint event finals at the Class 5A/6A State Track and Field Championships were dire, with up to a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms predicted.
But while skies were overcast and overnight showers had left the track at Grisham Stadium somewhat damp, the sun had poked out from behind the clouds by the time the event schedule had reached the 800-meter run.
And with temperatures soaring from a comfortable 71 degrees at the beginning of the day’s competition up to near 80 with high humidity, it did force some runners to adjust to changing conditions on the fly.
“Coming out at first, it was kind of sluggish,” said Scott. “So I knew I had to warm up for my next event because I realized in the 100, I could’ve given more. But because it was raining, that was all I had.
“In the 200, I warmed up over there on the back end (of the infield) and I was running sprints and warming up. And it was hot and I felt nice and fresh, so I just kept on running and I got close to my (personal best).”