Two area runners recorded personal bests and claimed medals in 3,200-meter run competitions Friday at the Georgia High School Association’s boys track and field state meets.
For one, it capped a strong high school career. For the other, it is a promising sign of what next season might bring.
North Murray senior Isaac Pacheco placed seventh in the Class 3A race — all of the GHSA’s classifications are competing at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson — with a time of 9 minutes, 49.21 seconds as he won the fifth state medal of his career.
Murray County junior Servio Martinez took sixth in the Class 2A race with a time of 10:26.96. The race was won by Westminster’s Jordan Flowers (9:47.96), who finished ahead of Heard County’s Orlando Burgos (9:48.64). Rounding out the medal field were Chattooga’s Damian Porter (10:07.89), Westminster’s Harry O’Connor (10:13.83), Greater Atlanta Christian’s Miller Kettle (10:17.33), Martinez, Jordan’s Nigel Dixon (10:27.16) and Dade County’s Tim Murphy (10:30).
Murray County coach Sam Young said it has “been a while” since the program claimed a state medal, and that while it is the first medal for Martinez, it’s “hopefully not his last.”
“He ran a very, very smart race. He beat his personal best by 20 seconds,” Young said. “... He actually hit a slump — kind of like a batter does — and his times were going in the wrong direction about midseason. I think he just took on a different attitude about what he needed to do and started working harder. Part of this whole thing is mental, and by taking on that different mental attitude, he proved himself.”
In the 3A race, Austin Sprague of St. Pius X won in 9:24.57 to outpace North Hall’s Witt Nix (9:30.34). The medal field was rounded out by Andrew Anastasiades of St. Pius X (9:31.54), Blessed Trinity’s Matt Munns (9:36.87), North Oconee’s Cole Thornton (9:46.24), Blessed Trinity’s Patrick O’Grady (9:48.33), Pacheco and Pike County’s Caleb Teachout (9:55.73).
Pacheco’s medal performance came one day after he took seventh in the 1,600 with a personal best of 4:30.19, where his previous mark was 4:31.00. His previous best in the 3,200 was 9:53.00.
The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year the past two seasons, Pacheco took fifth in the Class 2A 1,600 as a junior. He was fourth in the Class 2A 3,200 in 2012 and was fifth in the same event as a sophomore.
Pacheco will be part of the first cross country team at Dalton State College when it begins competition this summer.
“He’s had a very successful high school career,” North Murray coach Andrea Linsley said. “You’ll never find another kid his age that dedicated to running and getting better.”
Northwest Whitfield senior Brody Cook finished 15th in the Class 4A 3,200, turning in a time of 10:39.37. Marist’s Daniel Navarro won the race in 9:21.70.
Northwest also had three entries in Class 4A track preliminaries Friday but did not advance to today’s finals in any of those events, meaning the area’s time at this year’s state meets has ended.
In the 100, Jonathan Willman’s time was 11th out of 15 runners. His 11.41 was seventh in his eight-runner heat, which was won by Mary Persons’ Nick Davis at 11.06. The slowest qualifying time for the event was 11.32.
Willman was also part of the Bruins’ 4x100 relay entry — the other team members were Blake Heard, Jamon Horne and Jalen Lockett — that clocked a 43.45, which was sixth in the faster of two heats but outside of the eight fastest times overall. Fayette County’s team won Northwest’s heat with a 42.49, while the slowest qualifying time for the relay was 43.29.
In the 300 hurdles, Alex Reynolds’ time of 42.11 was fifth in the slower of two heats and 13th among 16 runners overall. Reynolds’ heat was won by Sandy Creek’s Solomon Bolds at 39.15, and the slowest qualifying time was 40.16.
The GHSA’s girls state meets are Thursday through Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany. All six local track and field programs will be represented in that competition.