Wheeler, Walton close at region meet
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
April 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 2046 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ROSWELL — Walton, Wheeler and Lassiter all have some work to do if any of them would like to capture team championships following Wednesday’s action at the Region 5AAAAAA girls and boys track and field championships at Roswell’s Ray Manus Stadium.

Roswell’s girls and boys team hold the lead in both genders after the conclusion of three field events. The Hornets (36 points) are ahead of second place Wheeler (25) and third place Walton (19) with Milton (12), Cherokee (8), Woodstock (8), Etowah (5) and Lassiter (4) also scoring.

The Lady Hornets (27) have a slimmer advantage over second place Walton (21), followed by Etowah (19), Wheeler (15), Woodstock (12), Milton (9), Lassiter (8) and Cherokee (6).

Boys field event finals included high jump, long jump and discus, while the girls finals were held in pole vault, long jump and shot put. Finals were also held in the boys and girls 1,600-meter run. Preliminary running events also took place. The top four finishers in each event qualify for next week’s sectional meet.

The Lady Raiders received strong showings from Nikki Edwards and Avery Bussjager who won the pole vault and the 1,600, respectively.

Edwards, a sophomore, set a personal-best height of nine feet, while Bussjager held a 50 meter lead for much of her race before finishing in five minutes, 9.53 seconds.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Edwards said. “I didn’t make sectionals last year, so I’m excited. My coach (Terran Viehe) has done so much for me and I’m grateful.”

Bussjager said she’s used to running ahead alone and has trained herself for moments like Wednesday. Roswell’s Rachel VanAmburgh did close the gap in the final 100 meters, but it was too late.

“Over the season (running by myself) can take a mental toll, but I’m use to it,” she said. “It takes more mental focus. I just had to finish strong to keep my spot.”

Shaquashia Keeling gave Wheeler a boost following her victory in the long jump. Keeling jumped a personal-best 16-9.5 on her final attempt to win her first region title.

“That was nothing but God,” Keeling, a senior, said through tears. “I feel like a winner. I feel like I’ve achieved something. I’ve won before, but I’ve never won region, so this is really special.”

Also advancing to sectionals were Lassiter teammates Katherine Jorgensen (fourth, 18-0) in the pole vault and Danielle Okonta (second, 16-5) in the long jump. Walton’s Tatiana Taylor (second, 39-1) also moved on in the shot up.

Walton’s Kenan Farmer beat his competition in the 1,600-meter run and finished first in a time of 4:20.52. His nearest competitor crossed the line more than three seconds later.

“It’s harder running by yourself,” Farmer said. “But, (Woodstock’s Owen Bailey) was behind me and he’s a good runner, so he helped push me. It’s exciting to be region champ, and I’m glad I was able to win.”

Farmer was the best finisher among the local boys who qualified for sectionals. His teammates, Nathan Kagan, was second (6-0) in the high jump and Caleb Lawrence placed fourth (5-9). Raider Zac Starns was fourth (19-11) in the long jump.

Nate McCrary of Wheeler placed second (21-11.75) in the long jump as did the Wildcats’ Val Martin (134-2) in the discus. Ryan Peck was fourth (4-26.8) in the 1,600.

All three schools qualified several runners into today’s finals. Field events in the boys pole vault, triple jump and shot will also be competed along with girls’ high jump, triple jump and discus.

“I’m very pleased with the kids (Wednesday),” Walton coach Travis Gower (please check spelling) said. “Our field events went better than expected and we have a lot of kids in the finals. We’re in as good of a position as we can be going into the finals.”

Wheeler coach Davis Harvey had to scramble a little on the boys side after a groin injury sidelined Devontae Jackson who is one of his best athletes.

“He’s hard to replace,” Harvey said. “But, the kids battled, and I feel like we still have a shot at it on Day 2.”

The Lady Raiders should also see improved scoring behind sprinter Tatyana Lewis and hurdlers Natisha Dixon and Jaelyn Rice.
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