March 8, 2014

The start of the race

Teams are finding their legs

Local coaches agree the Northwest Whitfield/Southeast Whitfield Invitational was a good comparison tool for the young track and field season.

Dalton’s girls won with 136 points to Southeast Whitfield’s 126 despite the Lady Raiders being announced as the event winners. A scoring error omitted nine points for the Lady Catamounts.

Northwest finished third with 90 points, followed by Calhoun (89), Coahulla Creek (62), Cass (31), Adairsville (15), RInggold (14) and Murray County (13). On the boys side, Calhoun won with 162 points and Dalton finished second with 127. Cass finished third with 83 points, folowed by Southeast (74), Northwest (67), Coahulla Creek (48), Adairsville (32), Ringgold (15) and Murray County (3).

The annual event took place at Raider Stadium, which sported its new track and field facilities thanks to an anonymous donation. Fans and competitors thought the girls result came down to the final event. Southeast’s girls finished second in the 4x400 relay, good enough for eight points. Tori Black, Sarah Sullivan, Rana Mashburn and Isabel Salinas finished second in 4 minutes, 26.43 seconds to Calhoun’s 4:22. Northwest finished third and Dalton finished fourth, meaning everyone believed the Lady Raiders would edge out a victory.

“This is my first big high school track meet,” said Black, a sophomore. “It’s great.”

Instead, Dalton already had it clinched. Adrianna Bryant won three events (high jump, 5-0; 100, 12.5; 300 hurdles, 51.28) and also was part of the winning 4x100 relay that finished in 52.20.

“I think we did really well,” Bryant said. “Just for today, we’ve done amazing and did really well in the field events.”

Dalton’s other winner was Presley Craig (110 hurdles, 17.21).

“We had some miss due to taking SATs,” Dalton coach Pam Brackett said. “It gives others the opportunity to step up and try some things.”

But many coaches think deeper than just team finish.

“This event gives you an idea of what’s going on in the area,” Southeast coach Michael Durham said. “Early in the season, that’s the idea. You want to see others in your area.”

Salinas also won the 1,600-meter race in 5:41 and the 800 race in 2:30. Southeast’s other winner was Wendy Perez with a distance of 37 feet, 5 1/2 inches in the shot put and a throw of 102-1 in the discus.

Salinas was one of three most valuable runners for the girls — with Dalton’s Bryant and Calhoun’s Sydnie Parker — while Perez was the most valuable field participant.

The last local female winner was Coahulla Creek’s A.T. Smith (16-0, long jump).

Dalton’s Hayden Gross won the boys most valuable field participant and Calhoun’s Tydus Curtis won most valuable runner. Gross won the shot put with a throw of 47-9 3/4. Southeast’s Luis Perez won the 1,600 in 4:44. Northwest’s Nick Bramblett won the discus with a best of 121-4 1/4.

“This is (Nick’s) year to shine,” Northwest coach Shelley Rickett said. “This was a good starting point. It’s better than last year’s start.”

All coaches agree this meet serves as a good “starting point,” as Coahulla Creek assistant coach LaQuentin Taylor said, for the season.

“This is our first big meet,” he added. “We’re still kind of trying to find ourselves a little bit.”

Murray County coach Sam Young had the same reaction as Taylor.

“This is our first meet,” Young said. “We’re finally seeing some actual times for the first time. We’re getting a look at where we’re at.”

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