Local private school track teams had a good stretch last week. Both Augusta Prep and Augusta Christian brought home track and field region championships.
Augusta Prep's girls track team made school history with the region title. For the first time, the Lady Cavaliers claimed a Region 4-AAA championship.
"They were ecstatic," Augusta Prep athletics director and track coach Tom Holodak said. "In track you win region championships and state championships with numbers. We haven't always had that."
In fact, it was just two years ago that the Augusta Prep girls track program had only eight or nine girls on the entire team, Holodak said. With a squad of 21 athletes this season, the region title was a possibility.
Now it's a reality.
"I think it was three things," Holodak said. "One, we're blessed with this great facility. Two, we've put time and effort into our middle school program and that's brought the interest up, and three, we're making it fun for them."
Holodak saw direct results of those improvements last Thursday when Augusta Prep girls won eight of the 16 track and field events.
Caitlyn King took first place in the triple jump and 400-meter run and also was a member of the first place 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
Augusta Prep's boys team, with 11 members, finished in a tie for second place overall. Holodak said 14 of his 21 girls and all 11 of his boys qualified for the GISA Class AAA state meet which will take place in Albany, Ga., on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
AUGUSTA CHRISTIAN'S boys track team was also a surprise region winner last week. The Lions, who haven't won a track region championship since making the move to the South Carolina Independent Schools Association two years ago, claimed the Region 1-AAA title.
Augusta Christian boys track coach Charles Cooper was named boys region track coach of the year after his squad of 19 boys beat out the rest of the region. Cooper said he put more emphasis on quality over quantity this season.
"We're actually smaller this year. I've got 12 less guys," Cooper said. "That's why it was even more of a surprise."
Cooper's squad included four eighth-graders, but the Lions got off to a strong start at the region meet at Heathwood Hall thanks to a strong showing in the field events.
"About halfway through the meet I saw we were up by a few points," Cooper said. "I told them not to worry about what the score was and that it didn't matter, but the whole time I'm trying to figure out what we had to do to keep the lead."
Holding onto first place by one point, Augusta Christian's Will Wright and Alden Fisher finished first and second in the 200-meter run. The Lions needed a strong finish in the 3,200-meter run for the win.
"I went to Jaiden Brandt, he runs our two-mile, and I told him, 'I need you to beat a Heathwood runner. That's it. Just make sure you do that,'" Cooper said. "He came back to me and said, 'Is it OK if I just win?' And that's what he did."
Along with the boys team, the Lady Lions also claimed another region title.
The Augusta Christian girls won the SCISA track and field state championship last season, and Cooper said they're the favorite to do it again.
Lion senior Casey Brush earned the most points of any competitor in the girls region meet, and girls track and field coach Bruce Lane was named girls region track and field coach of the year.
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