March 15, 2014

Such great heights

Foxx’s big day among Rotary Invitational meet highlights

After Coahulla Creek High School’s Josh Foxx cleared 6 feet, 8 inches in the high jump, Colts assistant coach Eric Bishop couldn’t control his emotions, giving an emphatic “Yes!” on Saturday morning at the Ronnie McClurg Rotary Invitational track and field meet at Dalton High School.

Foxx was one of a trio of local competitors who jumped and threw their way to a first-place finish.

Southeast Whitfield’s Wendy Perez and Dalton’s Adrianna Bryant were the others who claimed victory, while many other competitors from local schools placed in the top six. In the team standings for the 21-school event, Dalton’s boys and girls had the best showing among schools from Murray and Whitfield counties, as the Catamounts finished third with 67 points, while the girls ended up sixth with 29 points.

The annual meet, run by local Rotary Club members and Dalton High School’s coaches, has been held in the Carpet Capital since 1974, inviting teams from around the state to a midseason meet with the quality competition of a postseason championship.

Redan won the boys meet with 138 points, while Hillgrove (96.5) finished second ahead of the Catamounts. Cartersville (49) finished fourth, followed by Heritage-Catoosa (33), Cass (33), Hiram (28), Woodland-Bartow (27), Rome (25), Pickens (22), Sonoraville (21), Southeast (18), Gilmer (16), Villa Rica (11), Gordon Central (10.5), Coahulla Creek (10), Northwest Whitfield (10), Tyner Academy (8) and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (1).

Hillgrove won the girls meet with 115 points, while Redan (83) finished second. Woodland (58), Cartersville (45) and Sonoraville (35) rounded out the top five. Southeast (28) finished seventh, followed by Heritage (27), Villa Rica (27), Pickens (23), Tyner Academy (21), LFO (20), Gordon Central (20), Hiram (18.5), Northwest (17), Rome (16.5), Gilmer (16), Cass (14) and North Murray (8).

Competitors earned 10 team points for first-place finishes, eight for second, six for third, five for fourth, four for fifth, three for sixth, two for seventh and one for eighth. The top three finishers in each event earned medals.

Bryant earned the most valuable field competitor recognition among girls for earning 18 points in field events. She won the triple jump with a best of 35 feet, 4.5 inches and also placed in the high jump (second, 5-2). On the track, she medaled in the 100-meter dash (third, 12.95 seconds).

“The first two jumps were both 33 feet,” Bryant said of her triple jump victory. “I thought I’d keep going 33. (Dalton coach Pam Brackett) told me to jump two more feet and I did.”

Redan’s Chris McBride won the most valuable field competitor award among boys. Hillgrove’s Chelsea Crayton and Claire Warren tied for the most valuable runner award among girls, while Heritage’s Jacob Keith and Hillgrove’s Brent Starks shared the most valuable runner award for boys.

While he didn’t receive most valuable recognition, Foxx’s performance turned heads and garnered applause from strangers. The junior finished eighth in the high jump at last year’s Class 3A state meet with a best jump of 5-10. He cleared 6-6 to pass Dalton’s Kelvis Rhodes, who finished second with a best of 6-4. After clearing the 6-8 marker — and receiving an ovation and congratulatory hug from Bishop, a Murray County High School graduate who still holds the meet record in the high jump at 7-1 — Foxx nearly cleared the 6-10 mark on three tries.

“I’ve been working for (6-8) for about a year and a half now,” Foxx said. “I’ve been putting in a lot more work to prepare myself. It was my first time ever attempting 6-10.”

Southeast’s Perez won the discus with a best throw of 103-6, nearly 7 feet better than the second-place finisher. The Lady Raiders senior also finished third in the shot put with a best of 31-6. North Murray’s Erin Robinson (33-7) finished second.

“That was 2 feet above what she did four days ago,” North Murray coach Andrea Linsley said of Robinson. “She’s gradually getting better as the season goes.”

The boys shot put included the most local placers — and also a new event record. Dalton’s Hayden Gross finished third with a best of 47-1, followed by Northwest’s Raul Franco (42-0), Southeast’s Matt Cloer (39-9) and Dalton’s Logan Pender (39-8). Hillgrove’s Jaylen Reid set a new record with a best of 60-4.

“I’ve been doing 60 feet in practice,” he said, “but never at an event until now.”

Dalton’s Austin Mills earned two second-place finishes in the 100 (11.28) and 200 (22.65). Dalton’s other placers were: Zek Cobb (triple jump, fourth, 40-9.5; high jump, fifth, 5-10); Gross (discus, fifth, 112-07); Jordon McKinney (300 hurdles, fourth, 43.24); Brandon Pineda (1,600, fifth, 4:43.59); Rhodes (long jump, third, 20-2.5); and Angel Rodriguez (800, sixth, 2:07.38).

“With this size of a meet, I’m happy,” Dalton boys coach Scott Thompson said. “Austin Mills did a phenomenal job in the 100 and 200. ... For being about 5-6 in height, he’s getting a lot of turnover. He’s doing well in the sprints against these long-legged kids.”

The Lady Catamounts’ 4x100 relay team of Bryant, Presley Craig, Haley Ledwell and Gabby Wright finished sixth in 52.18.

Northwest’s other placers were: Will Blanchard (long jump, sixth, 19-2); Nick Bramblett (discus, sixth, 112-02); Analeigh Hopkins (pole vault, fifth, 7-6); McKinley Hopkins (triple jump, fourth, 34-5; 100 hurdles, sixth, 16.38); and Jamison Payne (discus, fourth, 88-10).

“Most of our kids stepped up to the challenge,” Northwest coach Richard Taylor said. “They’re all progressing.”

Southeast’s other placers were: Corey Barnes (400, fourth, 52.73); Luis Perez (800, fifth, 2:06.65; 1,600, fourth, 4:38.94) and Isabel Salinas (800, third, 2:30; 1,600, fourth, 5:39).

Murray County also competed, and while the Indians didn’t have anyone place, they had multiple top-10 finishes in a strong field.

“We knew the competition level would be extremely high,” Murray County coach Sam Young said. “What makes an individual better is competing against individuals and teams better than you. ... We had a lot of positives.”

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