The Longest Day isn't just the title of a World War II movie - it's also a good description of what took place last week in Columbia County.
High-school athletes became weekend warriors, as prep squads competed in full force Friday and Saturday.
In a little more than a 24-hour span, area fans enjoyed a smorgasbord of sports events, from Diamond Day baseball at Evans and Harlem, to a spring soccer tournament at Augusta Preparatory Day School, to the Wolfpack Classic track-and-field meet at Greenbrier.
When the dust settled late Saturday night at Evans, Knights baseball coach Ricky Beale breathed a sigh of relief - his team had reeled off three straight wins.
"It was a real good weekend for us," Beale said. "The JV won both games on Diamond Day, and the varsity kept it going. It was a great pick-me-up this weekend, and we needed it."
The success wasn't confined to the county lines - last Saturday in Hawkinsville, Ga., Greenbrier's Wesley Merriweather won a Georgia High School Association state weightlifting championship.
Competing in the 141-150-pound division, Merriweather hoisted a combined 970 pounds in the three major lifts (bench, squat and power clean) to claim the crown.
Harlem's Jamie Nevin battles Greenbrier's Whitney Wise for the ball Friday. Greenbrier won the match 13-0.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Wolfpack lifters Erik Smith, Paul Maness and Charles Middleton all placed in the respective weight divisions at state to help lift Greenbrier to a third-place finish at the state meet.
Greenbrier junior Tesha Thurmond is no stranger to the weight room, and she hopes the heavy lifting will lead her to state titles later this spring in the shot and discus events.
"I'm working on it. I've been taking weight lifting classes, and that should help," said Thurmond, who won the Class AAAA discus title last year and swept the shot and discus events Saturday at the Wolfpack Classic.
Thurmond wasn't the only one to shine last week.
Track and field
Greenbrier played host to the Wolfpack Classic, which featured 11 girls teams and 10 boys teams, but the home side dominated the proceedings by placing first in both competitions.
"We've got a good team," Thurmond said. "We don't have as many girls as we usually do, but we've still been winning, so I guess we've got some pretty good talent."
The Lady Wolfpack scored 118 points to top Thomson (91.50). Evans placed fourth (42 points), Harlem was 10th (19.50) and Lakeside was 11th (eight points).
The Greenbrier boys totaled 179 points to easily outdistance Thomson, which finished with 81 points. Harlem placed fifth (28 points), Evans was seventh (24.50) and Lakeside finished eighth (16 points).
Greenbrier school records were set by LaShawn Butler (200-meter dash, :22.46), Alisha Simmons (long jump, 17 feet, 2 1/2 inches) and Reggie Rice (triple jump, 44 feet, 8 inches).
Evans senior Robin Jacobs placed first in shot and discus, while Lady Knight senior Ashley Brodhecker was second in shot and discus. Evans mastered the girls distance events, with Angela Griffin and Amanda Griffin turning in strong runs in the team's first meet of the season.
"We're out here just trying to get some things in place and getting ready for that region we're in," Lady Knights coach Tim Whitfield said. "Now that we've seen Region 7-AAAAA in track, we want to work on being competitive."
Columbia County event winners at the Wolfpack Classic were as follows:
Girls: Greenbrier - Renee Jones (400-meter run, 1:00.22) 4x100-meter relay (April Bennett, Jones, Simmons, Melisa Butler, 49.53); Kayla Thurmond (pole vault, 7 feet); Tesha Thurmond (shot put, 39 feet, 9 inches and discus 118 feet, 7 inches); Evans - Angela Griffin (3,200-meter run, time unavailable); Amanda Griffin (1,600-meter run, 5:58.00); Harlem - Sharday Taylor (high jump, 5 feet, 2 inches).
Boys: Greenbrier - Jon Tillman (pole vault, 10 feet, 6 inches); Butler (200-meter dash); Eugene Rogers (400-meter run, 51.16 and 300 hurdles, time unavailable); Tyler Warren (1,600-meter run, 4:45); Rice (triple jump); Miguel Mota (3,200-meter run, time unavailable); Evans - Robin Jacobs (shot put, 50 feet, 3 1/2 inches and discus, 123 feet, 7 1/2 inches).
The Evans Knights weren't perfect last weekend, but they were close enough.
The Knights beat Westside 7-3 at home Friday, then earned two more wins during Diamond Day on Saturday at Evans - an 8-5 decision over North Augusta, and a 14-13 victory over Lakeside which capped the Diamond Day festivities.
"That was one for the ages for these two schools," Beale said. "We were up 12-0 in the fifth, and Lakeside battled back. It was wild and crazy, but it was fun being on the winning end."
Diamond Dog Day at Harlem was a tester for the home team - the Bulldogs lost 14-2 to Hephzibah and fell 9-7 to Thomson, but Harlem managed a 6-2 win over Oglethorpe County.
There were some fireworks Friday at Brierpatch, where Rich Poythress hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Wolfpack to a 6-4 win over Heritage.
The Pack suffered their first loss of the season, 9-4 at Loganville Saturday, but rebounded in the second game by shutting out South Forsyth 7-0, thanks to strong pitching by Michael Newman.
"I'm really proud of the way we came back and played well in that second game," Pack coach Ed Williams said. "We've still got a lot of things we've got to do better. We're making a lot of mental mistakes."
Columbia County's private school squads did not fare well on the diamond last weekend. Saturday at Augusta Christian, the Lions lost 15-0 to First Presbyterian Day of Macon, Ga.; and at Augusta Prep, the Cavaliers were swept in a doubleheader by John Milledge Academy of Milledgeville, Ga., 6-2 and 12-0.
Just call it the Brierpatch Massacre.
In Friday action on the pitch, the Greenbrier girls routed Harlem 13-0, and in the nightcap, the Wolfpack skunked the Dogs 15-0.
The Lady Wolfpack scored 10 seconds into their match, and the goals didn't stop until the boys game was ended early on the mercy rule.
"Harlem was just overmatched," Lady Pack coach Alex Heider said. "At this time we have more players that play year-round soccer, and that makes a difference."
In the Augusta Preparatory Spring Soccer Classic, the Lady Cavaliers posted a 13-0 win over Westminster Christian in opening action Friday. On Saturday, Prep tied Frederica Academy of St. Simons Island. Ga., 0-0, then capped the Classic with a 10-1 blowout of Dominion Christian of Marietta, Ga.
A big weekend is history, but Columbia County's prep teams won't have any time to rest.
In baseball, a key game takes place at the Brierpatch when Marist visits Greenbrier Saturday at 1 p.m. The Pack plays Westside on Thursday and Washington County on Friday, then takes on Marist, the two-time defending Class AAAA state champions.
Brad Freeman delivers to home plate during Evans Diamond Day game Saturday against North Augusta.
Photo by Mike Howell
"It's another big week for us," Williams said. "We'll be tested, but it's a lot of fun to play Marist. They're a first-class program, and it's good to play people like that."
In soccer, Evans faces Lakeside-DeKalb Friday in a pair of Region 7-AAAAA matches at Blanchard Stadium. The Knights have yet to lose a game in Region 7-AAAAA, and a victory over Lakeside-DeKalb would put Evans in position to defend its region crown.
The Lakeside girls soccer team is finally on its home pitch this week. The Lady Panthers make their home debut with a Saturday match against Statesboro at noon (the Lakeside boys play Statesboro at 4 p.m.)
The Greenbrier girls, meanwhile, play Saturday at Lovett in Atlanta, but the Lady Pack's coach can't help looking ahead to March 26 when Greenbrier and Lakeside battle for the Region 3-AAAA crown at the Brierpatch.
"There's a lot on the line in the Lakeside game," Heider said. "Both teams possess a lot of skill, both physically and tactically. It should be an interesting matchup next Friday."
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