Southeast Whitfield High School’s Isabel Salinas made sure her first trip to the GHSA Class 3A State Track Meet was a quick one — in a good way.
Salinas, a sophomore and the Region 7-4A champion in the 1600 meters, notched a personal best time of 5 minutes, 30.04 seconds to finish fifth in the state finals Friday evening at Albany’s Hugh Mills Stadium. Today, she will attempt to have another point-earning finish when she competes in the 800 meters.
“I feel great,” Salinas said. “I was very proud of myself to get a personal record.”
Southeast track coach Mike Durham said Marist teammates Morgan Ilse and Kendall Nelson set the race pace. Ilse easily won the race in 5:03.04, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Nelson. Durham said Nelson made sure the rest of the field wouldn’t catch her teammate by slowing down the field.
“She kind of slowed the pace down and there was a big group behind her,” Durham said. When they got to the halfway mark, they were at a 2:48, which is extremely slow. I think they realized the pace was slow, and a big group of them moved at the same time.”
That was when Salinas made her move. Durham said she passed two competitors on the home stretch and was shoulder-to-shoulder with Perry’s Abby Booth and Pickens’ Alyssa Weaver at the finish, edging both.
“It was a fantastic,” Durham said. “She showed everyone what she had.”
Salinas earned four points in the team standings for Southeast. She will look for more in the 800 today after qualifying for the finals on Thursday with a time of 2:33.07, which earned her the last spot.
• North Murray drew one of the top teams in the state regardless of classification in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs, but first-year coach David Redmond has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The Mountaineers — the No. 4 seed from Region 5 — were swept by Region 7 No. 1-seed Buford in a doubleheader in Buford. The Wolves won 14-0 in both games with both contests cut short to five innings by the GHSA mercy rule.
North Murray was making its first trip to the baseball playoffs in school history, and the Mountaineers will return most of its roster intact next season. Aaron Granger is the lone senior on the season, which ended with a final record of 11-17.
“We hate to lose Aaron, but we have a good young group and this was a great experience for them,” Redmond said. “Our future is bright, and we have to just keep working. We feel like this year we put North Murray on the baseball map this season and that is a great start for us this year.”
Buford has three players who are Division-I college signees, according to Redmond, and the Wolves showed their talent with the sweep.
But early on, North Murray held its own. The Mountaineers trailed 2-0 at the end of the second inning in the opener, and had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the third. But a grounder to the pitcher and a strikeout ended the threat. Buford scored four runs in the third and eight in the fourth to close out the game.
Granger was the lone Mountaineer with multiple hits, finishing 3-for-3 in the game as the Wolves outhit North Murray 10 to six.
“We knew coming down we were facing possibly the best in the state of Georgia in Class 3A,” Redmond said. “In the first game, we swung the bat really well. We just got into some situations where we had trouble driving the runs across. That was out little hiccup, and they had their hits when they needed them.”
North Murray was held to just two hits in the nightcap as Buford scored six runs in the first, two in the second, two in the third and four in the fourth.