Gwinnett track and field athletes scattered across Georgia last weekend and returned home with plenty of hardware.
The Shiloh boys, Buford girls and Greater Atlanta Christian girls led the way with team championships, while 23 individual state titles were won between last Thursday and Saturday at meet locations in Rome, Carrollton and Albany. An additional five Gwinnett relay teams earned state crowns.
Gwinnett athletes made an astonishing 140 appearances on the podium in individual events, as well as 25 top-eight finishes in relays.
“I always say Gwinnett County is the SEC of track in Georgia. It’s so tough to even be successful at county. To continue that legacy and have Shiloh be part of that. Just to know the work these kids did. I talk to them all the time about leaving their legacy. They definitely have solidified that and put themselves among the best programs in the state. We want to continue to grow that.”
Shiloh’s closest competition for the Class AAAAAAA boys title came from within the Gwinnett borders. Peachtree Ridge finished as state runner-up. The team leader entering the final day of running was defending state champion Parkview, which ended up fifth.
Half of the AAAAAAA boys top 10 hailed from Gwinnett, including eighth-place Brookwood and ninth-place Archer. With Shiloh’s victory, eight of the last 11 boys state champions in Georgia’s largest classification have been from Gwinnett.
While the Gwinnett team atop the AAAAAAA boys standings rotated to another champ, two girls programs continued their dynasties.
The Buford girls won their third straight state championship in AAAAA, overpowering the field in Carrollton. Down in Albany, the GAC girls won their third state title in four seasons and sixth since 2005 under longtime head coach Brad Kinser.
Jasmine Jones was the AAA meet’s high-point scorer to lead the GAC girls, winning five state titles — two relays and three individual events. Teammate Chloe Fair was a part of four championships, and the Spartans swept the relay crowns.
“It was kind of a perfect day,” Kinser said. “I’m really proud of the girls. Jasmine and Chloe were the stalwarts, but everyone really contributed, from the ‘B’ relays to the people who got fourths, fifths and sixths.”
Buford’s girls also swept the relay titles and got a starring role from Kimberly Harris, the individual champion in the 200 and 400-meter races.
“The effort was phenomenal,” Buford coach Fyrone Davis said. “The girls came in with a positive attitude (Saturday) morning. That was the most important things we talked about all week — to be positive. Don’t be negative.”
Harris, Jones and Fair weren’t the only athletes with multiple individual state titles. In AAAAAAA, Shiloh junior Jazmine Hobson sprinted to wins in the 100 and 200. Gwinnett won 10 individual and one relay state championship in the state’s highest classification, including a pole vault win from Parkview senior Brian Hauch, who broke his own AAAAAAA record with the sixth-best pole vault in state history of 16 feet, 6 1/2 inches.
The biggest trophy went to Shiloh, which was led by an 800 state championship from meet high-scorer Elijah Berry and a 1,600 relay state title from the foursome of Berry, Paryce Taylor, Jaden Barker and Omar Simpson. That relay won in 3 minutes, 13.28 seconds, barely off the all-time state record of 3:13.21 set in 1989 by Southwest DeKalb.
“When I was a freshman, I always wanted to put another year on the (state championship) banner,” Berry said. “It actually hasn’t hit me yet. Just looking around seeing my friends happy, it makes me feel good that we did it. I always said I wanted to do it before I graduated, so it feels good to do it. … Coach told us we can do it. All we have to do is execute, stay focused. Even when it was raining and everything (Saturday morning), he told us to keep an eye on the trophy. We came together as a team and we did that.”