By Doug Hawley
Massey Swanson and Shelby Wilson are competing in the final region meet of their high school careers.
With one day of competition behind them, each of the seniors has a first-place medal to show for her efforts.
Dalton’s Swanson and Northwest Whitfield’s Wilson highlighted local performances by capturing the pole vault and 1,600-meter run, respectively, at the Region 7-4A track and field meet Thursday at Dalton High. Both boys and girls are competing there with hopes of the top-four finishes that advance them to the Class 4A B sectional meet on Saturday, April 27, at Carrollton High School.
Swanson won with a vault of 8 feet, 6 inches — her best effort this year and a number that matched her previous high mark as a sophomore.
“I had a really good day,” she said.
Caroline Norman gave the Lady Catamounts a 1-2 finish in the event by vaulting 8-0. Rebekah Rawlins of Cass and Northwest’s Analeigh Hopkins recorded the same height but had more misses and so took third and fourth, respectively.
“They have had a good, healthy competition,” Lady Cats coach Pam Brackett said of Norman and Swanson. “They’ve gone back and forth at the top spot.”
In the 1,600, Wilson won in 5 minutes, 29.15 seconds as she was chased to the tape by runner-up Bekah Houston of Dalton — yet another senior — who clocked a 5:31.83.
“I felt pretty good, though I would like to have had a little better time,” Wilson said. “My nerves always seem to get me at the start. I ran a 5:17 last year in the state sectionals.”
Northwest coach Chad Brewer praised assistant Ben Rickett for aiding Wilson’s title run in the four-lap event.
“Coach Rickett had been working with her in practice on the third lap,” Brewer said. “She had a great third lap today.”
Two Cedartown girls joined Swanson and Wilson among the champions — Adriana Peguerous (discus, 105-5) and Akeria Boozer (long jump, 17-2).
Previously this week, Dalton boys coach Scott Thompson expressed concern that the second day of the meet would take place as planned today because of expected inclement weather, with plans to move the final day of action to Saturday if necessary. But weather permitting, the region meet continues at 2 p.m. today with 12 of the 16 event finals — nine on the track, three in the field — still remaining.
In girls competition, Dalton’s 32 points led the 11-school field after the first day. Following were Heritage-Catoosa (25), River Ridge (21), Cedartown (20), Cass (15), Northwest (15), Southeast Whitfield (14), Pickens (8), Gilmer (3), Ridgeland (2) and LaFayette (0).
Southeast’s Wendy Perez is headed on to the sectional meet following a second-place finish in discus (101-2). Dalton’s Susan Meinders advanced with a third-place finish in the long jump (15-2).
In boys competition, Dalton’s Hayden Gross led area boys with a runner-up finish in the shot put as his effort of 42-8.75 nipped Southeast’s Cody Ensley’s 42-8.5.
“Cody certainly was our highlight,” Southeast coach Michael Durham said. “It was his best throw of the year by 3 1/2 feet.”
The Cats’ Kelvis Rhodes punched his sectional ticket by taking fourth in the high jump (6-0) a year after he won it as a freshman.
Northwest had two sectional qualifiers, getting fourth-place finishes from Jonathan Willman (triple jump, 41-8) and Brody Cook (1,600, 4:46).
Cass led the team scoring for the boys with 25 points. Pursuing were Dalton and Ridgeland, who each scored 20, River Ridge (18), Northwest (16), Pickens (16), Cedartown (15), Heritage (10), Southeast (8), LaFayette (7) and Gilmer (1).
Cass got first-place finishes from Kelin Woodard (triple jump, 44-2) and Greg Edwards (high jump, 6-2). Ridgeland’s Jermaine Conyers won the shot put at 45-4 and Pickens’ Drew Bellows took the 1,600 in 4:37.71.