The 2014 Columbia County Track Championship had more than its fair share of excitement Tuesday.
Returning to Greenbrier High School after the 2013 championship was rained out, the host Wolfpack proved to be the class of the competition, with its boys and girls teams emerging victorious.
Greenbrier track coach Kati Smallwood enjoyed having her counterparts all in one place.
“It’s fun to have a local meet with all the county teams here and get the community out,” said Smallwood.
Smallwood’s Lady Wolfpack topped second-place Grovetown by a 200-115 margin, followed by Lakeside (96) and Evans (68).
With two events remaining, the Greenbrier boys held an eight-point lead over Lakeside. Then the Wolfpack took three of the first four places in the 3,200-meter run, with Jon Townsend taking first in 10:13.69.
The Panthers could not overtake the Wolfpack in the final 4x400 relay, with the Wolfpack edging them 156-140. Grovetown (126) was third followed by Evans (44) and Harlem (14).
With some athletes injured and others not competing because regionals start when schools return from spring break, it was a chance for other athletes to step up and shine.
The speed categories were swept by juniors: Greenbrier’s Warren Coombs and Grovetown’s Kiana Robinson winning their respective 100 and 200 races. Coombs also anchored the Wolfpack’s winning 4x100 relay.
Grovetown’s 2013 Class AAAAA 200 state champion Darius Watkins did not run against his AAU teammate Coombs in the 100 or 200, but did win the 400 (50.06), nipping Greenbrier’s Isaac Hammond (50.19). Coombs would have liked to have run head-to-head against Watkins.
“Since we joined AAU (Velocity Striders) Darius has pushed me,” Coombs said.
Sitting Watkins and others in events was part of Grovetown head coach Rodney Tyson’s plan.
“We want some guys to get some rest as we go into the region and give some young kids a chance to compete one more time,” said Tyson.
Starting the day with field events, Grovetown’s Rudy Valentine won the triple jump (43-00.50) and the long jump (21-05.00) while Greenbrier’s Alexis Starks followed suit with triple jump (35-00.50) and long jump (17-00.50) victories.
Valentine won the triple jump on his last attempt while Starks won the long jump on hers.
“I couldn’t get the correct mark and I had to get it in the middle jumps,” said Valentine.
In the boys 800, Evans’ Justin Weegar started out ahead before being overtaken by Lakeside’s Bryce Ivery. With Ivery leading down the stretch, Weegar made one last push, nipping him at the tape, winning in 2:00.29.
In the boys 110 hurdles, Greenbrier’s Brandon Dent and Grovetown’s Shiyear Woodbury recorded the same time (16.92) with Dent winning with a lean.
Lakeside freshman Alyssa Hooker faced no such drama as she ran away with the 3,200 from the start, winning in 11:46,23; her nearest competitor 1:19 behind.
“He (coach Ken Bowles) took out some seniors for future meets,” said Hooker humbly while mentioning teammate Lara Way. “We would have pushed each other hard,” she added.
Lakeside multiple winners included junior Joey Shaffer who won the discus (118-04) and the shot put (37-04.50) and senior Heather Hammet, who won the 100 hurdles (16.33) and the 300 hurdles (46.51).