An event summarized by senior runner and pole vaulter Cooper Freeman with a quick “we just have to go out there and give it our best,” the Dawson County track and field program hosted six teams and dozens of athletes for the two-day, 16 event 7-AAA regional tournament on April 24 and 25.
Each event fielded between 5 and 14 athletes with the top four moving on to state sectionals and the fifth and sixth place finishers qualifying as alternates. Additionally, the top eight finishers contributed points to each team’s overall tournament total.
Both the Tigers and the Lady Tigers entered as the teams to beat after finishing the regular season undefeated but remained wary of their competition as the stakes in tournament competition are much higher and more personal according to senior Maggie Schandera.
“Everybody is trying to make it to state,” Schandera said. “So, they play better, and you don’t really know what to expect.”
Day one of the tournament was an all-day affair and consisted of the “field” portion of track and field, also known as the horizontal events, as the teams opened the competition with discus, shot put, high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault and the preliminary rounds of the running events. Day two featured only the finals of the running events.
Senior Anna Lowe became the first Lady Tiger to qualify for state as she fired off an impressive throw of 100 feet and 9 inches to start the day, but GAC’s Autumn Clark took home the individual regional title in the event with an incredible 112 foot and 8-inch final throw.
Lowe went on to capture the gold and Dawson County’s first individual championship of the day in the shot put as she approached her own school record with a throw of 39 feet and two inches. Schandera claimed her spot at state in a third-place finish with a personal best of 34 feet and six inches.
Senior Frankie Muldoon was the only member of the Lady Tigers to win events on both days as she claimed the individual title in the 1600m and 3200m races.
The varsity boys found themselves locked in equally tight competition, not only with the Spartans but with a surprising push from the North Hall Trojans as well as the three teams quickly established themselves as the top teams on the field.
Freeman set the pace for the Tigers capturing the regional title with a school record of 13 feet and three inches in the pole vault, breaking his own record from earlier this season. Fellow senior Ethan Cameron provided the second bright spot of the day as he topped the podium in the triple jump with a leap of 41 feet and two inches.
Freeman led the team into day two with his second individual title with a win in the 400m, while the 4x400m relay team of Freeman, Cameron, Noah Brock and Shawn Thomas once again broke their own record to claim the gold with a pace of 3:29.06.
Dawson County went on to claim four silver and four copper medals in day two events and it was the strength of those finishes that pushed the Tigers past the Spartans and allowed the team to claim the first 7-AAA Regional Title in Dawson County High School history.
All totaled, Dawson County track and field will send 28 athletes, 12 Lady Tigers and 16 Tigers, to the state sectionals on Saturday, May 4 at East Jackson High School to compete for their spot in the GHSA state finals.
Dawson County Track and Field State Qualifiers
Lady Tigers Tigers
200m Shawn Thomas
400m Avery Young Cooper Freeman
800m Collin Kilgore
1600m Frankie Muldoon Collin Kilgore
3200m Frankie Muldoon Cody Wood
Jenna Lecours Ben McGinnis
100m High Hurdles Kaselyn Martin
300m Interm. Hurdles Ethan Cameron
4x100m Ethan Cameron
4x400m Evion Reinhardt Noah Brock
Jenna Lecours Cody Wood
Frankie Muldoon Collin Kilgore
Avery Young Cooper Freeman
Anna Mulberry Ethan Cameron
Ainsley Allen Luke Hamby
High Jump Hunter Barron
Pole Vault Bri Ray Cooper Freeman
Long Jump Noah Brock
Triple Jump Ethan Cameron
Shot Put Anna Lowe Chandler Cates
Discus Anna Lowe