Crisp wind whipped through Wednesday’s opening day of the Hall County championships. Many of the athletes and spectators donned their school’s thick letterman jackets, standing in the sun as long as possible.
Ten of the county’s track and field programs banded together at Cherokee Bluff High for the annual meet to test the area’s talent.
After the first day of competition, primarily field events, Riverside Military Academy (101) leads the boys followed by second-place Gainesville High (76.5), and third-place North Hall (54).
Gainesville High (78), Flowery Branch (62.5) and Chestatee High (60.5) round out the top three on the girls side.
Skylar Abbot initially put the Chestatee High girls in a comfortable lead (11) after placing first in the high jump, successfully clearing the bar with a new personal best of 5-feet, 2-inches.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Abbot said. “I think I was seeded third or fourth (coming into the meet), and I was just kind of going out there just to see if I could get a personal record and I ended up winning.”
The high jumper also placed second (49.34) in the 300 meter hurdles.
Abbot came into the day with a carefree attitude, as she always does. Chestatee girls head coach Jake Conley calls her “easy to coach” with her fun, playful approach to the sport.
“She makes a coach’s job super, super easy,” Conley said. “Great kid, great student. She’s also always fun to be around, cracking jokes. She just has a great time with it.”
She is a two-sport athlete who plans on enrolling at the University of North Georgia after graduation with a scholarship to play soccer.
During her junior year, she added track and field to her resume and the results have since been seen on the soccer field.
“I’ve noticed that track, a lot, helps with running on the field and endurance,” Abbot said.
Between the high jump and hurdles, Abbot believes the latter is more complicated. The art of running, jumping and steadily keeping your pace after each succession used to intimidate her.
“Running at state last year definitely helped because I had no clue what I was doing,” Abbot said. “I was with a bunch of people who had been doing it for multiple years, so after running with all of them and realizing that maybe I had a clue of what I was doing helped.”
Moments of self comparison reincarnated into self confidence, and the success has since followed. Becoming runner-up in last year’s Class 4A state championship in hurdles proved that fact.
“Last year, she went to state in both events and performed much better in the 300 meter hurdles than she did in the high jump,” Conley said. “I think she finished ninth or 10th in the high jump, and she was second in the hurdles.
“She works really, really, hard. She’s a two sport athlete, so she’s got some gifts.”
With this summer’s graduation date looming, Abbot took this year’s soccer season off to focus on track and field after committing to play soccer at North Georgia her junior year. Continuing to perfect her endurance continues to be a main responsibility. And for the distant future, she plans on staying in the sports industry with a bent toward the medical side.
“As of right now, I want to major in Biology, do something involving athletic training but my options are open,” Abbot said.
On Friday, the Hall County championships concludes with the running finals at Cherokee Bluff.