The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state playoffs have reached their conclusion for spring sports with several programs and players having stellar campaigns.
In baseball, Marist reached the Class AAAA state finals with a 2-0 series win over LaGrange in the semifinals on May 17. The War Eagles won the first contest 5-0, scoring four runs in the seventh inning to take control of the game. Charlie Benson had three hits and two RBIs while his teammate Joseph Mannelly had two hits and two RBIs in the victory. Connor Stephens started the contest for Marist on the mound and went 6.1 innings, striking out three batters to earn the win. The War Eagles won the second one 9-0 behind a three-hit effort from Cassius Young. Mannelly drove in three runs while Benson and Bill Rubright each had two hits.
“Our guys have really played with great urgency and passion,” Marist head coach Michael Strickland said. “Baseball is about getting into a rhythm and being able to play the game relaxed. We are in a good place right now.”
The War Eagles, who were the second seed from Region 7AAAA, defeated Cedartown, Cairo, Madison County and LaGrange in the playoffs to reach the finals. Marist faced Blessed Trinity for the state championship in Rome with results unavailable at press time.
Other baseball teams to make the playoffs were Redan, Druid Hills, Arabia Mountain, Southwest DeKalb, Decatur, Chamblee, Tucker, Stephenson and Lakeside.
The Golf State Championships were held from May 22 through 23 at various courses throughout the state.
The Marist boys’ team placed second overall in the Class AAAA competition with a score of plus-10, only trailing Columbus’ winning score of minus-5. War Eagles’ golfer Andrew Lafferty shot a team-best score of 71 while Braden Jones, Harry White and Jordan Secret each shot 74. St. Pius X placed fifth in the competition with Daniel McKenzie shooting a team-best score of 67 and taking home the individual state title. Lafferty finished tied for ninth.
The Marist girls’ team finished third in the team competition behind second-place Woodward Academy and state champion Columbus. War Eagles’ golfer Woo Wade’s round of 80 was the team’s top score and placed her tied for eighth in the individual competition. St. Pius X finished tied for 15th in the team event.
The Class AAAAA boys’ competition saw Decatur’s Alan Whitehead place tied for 17th in the individual competition with a two-day score of 154. Arabia Mountain’s Nylan Washington finish tied for 24th with a score of 157.
Chamblee finished 15th in the Class AAAAA girls’ competition with Tiffani Li becoming the team’s top scorer, placing tied for 34th in the individual standings.
The Dunwoody boys’ team finished tied for tenth in the Class AAAAAA team competition which was won by Johns Creek. Wildcats’ golfer Jackson Perry finished tied for seventh in the individual competition with a two-day score of 143, only three strokes behind state champion Brady Keran of Creekview.
In girls’ soccer, St. Pius X defeated Marist 1-0 in the Class AAAA state championship at McEachern in Powder Springs on May 13 for its fifth-consecutive state title and 11th overall. The Golden Lions defeated Gilmer, Mary Persons, and Blessed Trinity in the quarterfinals and Chapel Hill in the semifinals to reach the finals. St. Pius X finished the season with a 21-1-1 overall record. The War Eagles finished its 2017 campaign with a 16-4-1 overall record.
Other girls’ soccer teams from the county to make the state playoffs were Redan, Druid Hills, Chamblee, Arabia Mountain, Southwest DeKalb, Decatur, Cross Keys, Tucker, Stephenson and Lakeside.
The Druid Hills boys’ soccer team reached the Class AAAA state title game and faced Southeast Whitfield in Powder Springs on May 13. The Red Devils fell 3-2 in double overtime. Druid Hills defeated Spalding, Northwest Whitfield, Cartersville and Blessed Trinity to reach the finals and finish the year with a 16-7-0 overall record.
Other boys’ soccer teams from the county in the postseason were Stone Mountain, Marist, St. Pius X, Decatur, Chamblee, Arabia Mountain, Cross Keys and Tucker.
In track and field, the Marist boys’ team won the Class AAAA state championship which was held at Valhalla Stadium in Rome. Its Marist’s third state championship, all of which have come within the past six seasons with consecutive titles in 2013 and 2014. St. Pius X placed ninth with 26 points.
“It was a total team effort," said Marist track and field coach Eric Heintz said. "It was a result of months, or in some cases, years of hard work from many of our most committed athletes. It was a victory only possible by these young men coming together and putting their individual goals behind those of the team."
Brian Faust won the 400-meter and 800-meter runs for Marist. His teammate Leif Anderson won the 1,600-meter run
The Cedar Grove boys’ team won its third-consecutive Class AAA state track and field title and third overall championship in program history at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany. Saints’ runner Jadon Haselwood won the 110-meter hurdles. Cedar Grove won the 4x100-meter relay with runners on the team including Terrance Lewin, Deanthony Moore, Israel Spivey, Matthew Young, Marcus Allen and Dimitri Cooper.
The Class AAAA girls’ event saw Marist place fifth in the team competition. Kathleen Maley won the 1,600-meter run for the War Eagles and her teammate Josie Wirtz finished first in the 3,200-meter run.
SW DeKalb boys’ team was second in the Class AAAAA competition. Terryon Conwell won the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash events. Teammate Terry Conwell won the 400-meter dash. Decatur’s Sam Ellis won the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs.
Miller Grove placed fifth in the Class AAAAA girls’ competition. Wolverines’ runner Emoni Coleman won the 800-meter run. Arabia Mountain’s Patra Williams won the high jump.
The Class AAAAAA girls’ team event saw Tucker place fifth. Tigers’ runner Antonia Frazier won the 100-meter hurdles.
Chamblee claimed the Class AAAAA girls’ tennis state title with a 3-1 win over Starr’s Mill at the Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro on May 6. It's the program’s first state championship in girls’ tennis with the Bulldogs winning all 25 of its matches this season. Chamblee, which was the top seed from Region 5AAAAA, began the postseason defeating Woodland (Bartow) 5-0 in the first round and Bainbridge 3-0 in the second round. The Bulldogs defeated Union Grove 5-0 in the quarterfinals before beating Kell 3-2 in the semifinals.
Other girls’ tennis teams in the postseason were Stone Mountain, Marist, St. Pius X, Druid Hills, SW DeKalb, Decatur, Arabia Mountain, Tucker and Lakeside.
The Marist boys’ tennis team also earned a state title on May 6 with a 3-0 victory over North Oconee at the Clayton County International Park for the Class AAAA crown. It's the 19th state title in boys’ tennis for the War Eagles and the fourth consecutive championship, a first-time accomplishment for the program. Marist defeated Cedartown, Northside (Columbus) and Jefferson to reach the finals. The War Eagles finished the season with a 20-1 record.
Other postseason teams in boys’ tennis were Stone Mountain, St. Pius X, Druid Hills, Chamblee, Decatur, Arabia Mountain, SW DeKalb, Tucker and Lakeside.
The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams at Marist, St. Pius X and Dunwoody each made the state playoffs.