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Prep track: Seniors lead Riverside to GISA state title

POSTED: May 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Riverside Military Academy track team members, from front, Tersoo Uhaa, Ewin Holyfield and Dubem Anachebe helped lead the team to a state championship.

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Riverside Military senior Dubem Anachebe couldn’t eat or sleep the night before the Georgia Independent Schools Association state track meet began on April 25 in Albany.

He was a ball of nervous energy thinking about his main competition in the 400-meter relay, Georgia signee and defending state champion Kyle Grant of Mount de Sales.

"I was very nervous preparing for that race," Anachebe said. "I knew it was going to be a tough race."

The Eagles cadet was uncertain what to expect going up against top-flight competition. Well, it turns out a little apprehension was a good thing.

Anachebe went on to not only win the GISA Class AAA state title in the 400, but also set a new school record with a time of 49.45 seconds. It broke the previous record at Riverside Military, dating back 38 years, by .25 seconds.

Anachebe’s performance went a long way to helping Riverside Military (111 points) bring home its first GISA state title in track and field with a enough points to edge out perennial powers in GISA — First Presbyterian Day (110) and Deerfield Windsor.

The state title by the Eagles didn’t hinge on the performance of one athlete in a single race. Riverside Military’s state title was a story of a lot of it’s athletes winning individual battles in their own specific events. And the state title couldn’t come at a better time for Eagles track coach Jerry Edmondson in his final season at RMA, before taking the same post at South Forsyth High.

"What these kids accomplished went over and beyond my expectations," Edmondson said, after leading the Eagles to the region title the past six seasons as members of the GISA. "They saw that they were capable of winning state, and just had a great weekend at the state meet."

Edmondson may have been the first one with Riverside Military to realize they were going to have enough points to bring home the state title. With only two events remaining in the state meet at Hugh Mills Stadium, Eagles senior Ewin Holyfield placed first in the 200 with a 22.35. In the finals, Holyfield managed to beat two finalists he finished behind in qualifying.

With Holyfield’s victory in the 200, Riverside’s coach had a feeling they would have enough points to hold off second place finisher First Presbyterian Day.

"Coach Edmondson was so excited. ... He was like a kid in a candy store he was so happy," Holyfield said. "He hasn’t stopped smiling yet."

Holyfield also anchored Riverside Military’s relay teams including the 4 x 400 with Brad Baker, Anachebe and Drew Mills with a winning time of 3:32.87. In the 4 x 100 relay, Holyfield, Tersoo Uhaa, Conner Cuevas and Sebastian Mims captured first place for the Eagles in 44.41.

However, Holyfield cemented the most dramatic moment for the Eagles with his win in the triple jump in his final attempt with a jump of 42-feet, 7-inches.

His performance in the triple jump wasn’t shaping up early like it would result in a first place finish. His first attempt only netted him a distance of 40-1, and he was consistently in the 40-foot range in each of his ensuing jumps, by his own accounts.

In the final flight, his first jump was 40-10. But Holyfield was going to have to break his competitor from Deerfield-Windsor’s distance of 42-2 to win it.

That’s when Holyfield turned to Edmondson, heading into his final attempt, and said "I got this coach."

The win for Holyfield in the triple jump set the tone for the rest of his weekend with the two individual and two relay first place finishes.

"Ewin really busted out in the finals," Uhaa said.

Uhaa, a Furman football signee, and Holyfield both set the tone during the first day of the state meet with the field events. Uhaa placed first in the discus (150-7) and second in the shot put (45-7).

It didn’t take Edmondson long to see those points start to add up early for the Eagles.

"That was 10 points, 10 points and eight points — 28 points right there," Edmondson said. "I think that’s what really catapulted us."

Edmondson still can’t believe the state championship with his goal of just placing in the top three when the season began. It wasn’t always smooth this season for the Eagles, losing two meets early in the season.

But they all agree the hard work and hours grinding away in practice made the difference in leaving a lasting name for themselves in the Riverside Military record books.

"Our team captains (Uhaa, Holyfield and Anachebe) were excellent and the leadership they provided really helped us," Edmondson said. "They came to practice every day expecting to improve."

"Winning the state title feels like a really good way to go out," Uhaa added.



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