Kell’s Jordan Chambers led the way with two state titles as he swept the Class AAAA shot put and discus.
Whitefield Academy’s Cameron Thornton ended his high school track career with a state title in the Class A 1,600-meter run — one of three local athletes to win the event. Wheeler’s Adel Yoonis won in the Class AAAAA competition, as did Pope’s Patrick Fleming in AAAA.
Cobb County also claimed a pair of pole vault titles — Harrison’s James Wenk (AAAAA) and Allatoona’s Tray Oates (AAA).
Chambers got the title run going with a second-straight shot put title.
It didn’t come easy, however, as the senior’s winning throw of 54 feet, 1½ inches was only a quarter-inch beyond that of Ware County’s Dewey Hilliard.
“I’m very happy to win (the state title) again, but it was so close,” Chambers said. “In warm-ups, I did pretty good. I was (throwing) 53 (feet) — about what I was going for. But once I started, I got all bad releases, so I went to the chalk, but the ball was too slick. It was pretty stressful, actually. Somehow, I got that throw out there. When (Hilliard) threw 54-1¼, he got so close, and I thought I was going to lose, but I was able to hold on.”
Chambers continued his success in the discus with another close margin, throwing 160-3 to finish ahead of Marist’s Kenneth Brinson (158-5).
Thornton overcame a pulled hamstring to win his third-straight 1,600-meter run title.
The senior bound for Texas A&M suffered the injury the week before the state sectionals, forcing him to skip the 800 run, which he won at the state meet two years ago and finished as the runner-up last year in a photo finish with Holy Innocents’ O’Neal Wanliss.
Thornton, however, showed little effect of the injury Thursday, gradually moving up to the front and then taking over on the final lap. He won with a time of 4 minutes, 20.74 seconds, finishing just ahead of his own Whitefield teammate, Robby Keough (4:21.56).
“I didn’t even know if I could run,” Thornton said. “Honestly, just being able to be out here was good enough for me. I’m just happy it all worked out.”
Yoonis added the 1,600 run state title to the 800 run crown that he won last year as he finished with a time of 4:16.23 to beat out Walton’s Brian Sullivan (4:17.50).
Peachtree Ridge’s Josh Brickell appeared to be in control of the race until he began to slow down dramatically in the final 200 meters of the race. That allowed Yoonis to swoop in and pass the fading Brickell — who finished third — down the stretch.
“I thought it was over, because (Brickell) is one of the best runners this state has ever had,” Yoonis said. “I thought it was over. But, with 200 (meters) to go, he started to slow down a lot. I wanted to win real bad, and I had a chance to win, so I made my move.”
Fleming won the AAAA 1,600 run after he surged ahead in the final lap of the race and crossed the finish line in 4:18.10, ahead of Greenbrier’s Brandon Coombs (4:19.55).
“I’m a little surprised and happy,” Fleming said. “I wanted to stay with the leaders until the last lap and I started to kick it in.”
In the AAA pole vault, Oates and Westover’s Dolphurs Hayes both vaulted 15-6, but the Allatoona athlete claimed the state title based on fewer vaults missed. Oates and Hayes both missed each of their three attempts at 16-0.
“It was the best I’ve ever done,” said Oates, who set a new personal record. “I wish I could have completed 16-0, but 15-6 is a PR, so that’s all I wanted, to PR and win the state title.”
Harrison’s James Wenk followed with the Class AAAAA pole vault title, clearing 15-6 and beating Peachtree Ridge’s Matt Morris (15-0).
Falling just short of a state title was Pope’s Austin Card in the AAAA high jump. Card and Chapel Hill’s Jalen Langston both jumped 6-6, but Langston was awarded the title based on fewer jumps missed.
Wheeler’s Travis Redmond was the runner-up in the AAAAA triple jump, jumping 46-1¾ to place behind North Gwinnett’s Malcolm Jackson (48-1½).
The meet will resume today with the running event preliminaries and finals in the 3,200-meter run.