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High school track and field: Athletes gave early preview at Riverside Military Indoor Winter Challenge
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Riverside's Michael Medici competes in the high jump during the Riverside Military Academy Indoor Winter Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

Down time was hard to come by for Riverside Military Academy track and field coach Tim Cummings during Saturday’s third annual Riverside Military’s Indoor Winter Classic — the only indoor high school track meet in the state.

“Indoor is a little different,” Cummings said as he helped to drag hurdles onto the track for the 55-meter hurdles. “Everything’s going on at the same time.”

Cummings’ remark was no overstatement.

Girls pole vaulters competed to his left, while shot put was going on to his right. In the middle of the track, boys and girls athletes warmed up for high jump, while relay teams stood together, carrying out last minute discussions before it was time for them to run. 

Music echoing off the walls framed by two American flags — one on each end of the building — added to the hectic clamor. Yet despite the apparent chaos, the event went off without a hitch.

“It’s a great day for track and field here in Georgia,” Cummings said. “This is the biggest indoor meet we’ve ever had, over 25 teams and several unattached athletes.”

Then he added the kicker.

“Here’s the incredible part,” he said. “We finished ahead of time.”

Cummings attributed the success of the meet to the hard work put in by the members of his team. 

“My kids, I’m really proud of them,” he said. “They helped me at night get ready for this meet, all this work we had to do. Those kids helped me, and then they came out here and really performed well today.”

The event provided an opportunity for Cummings and the 24 other participating teams to get a look at their athletes prior to the start of the outdoor track season. Among Hall County schools, athletes from Riverside Military Academy, East Hall and North Hall were in attendance. 

For East Hall coach Steven Boone, who brought out a large contingent of participants, Saturday served as an excellent opportunity for his younger athletes to get a taste of high-level competition. 

“I think it was good, because it gave us the experience we were looking for,” Boone said. “It’s our first time out of the gate when it comes to a lot of these kids. We’ve got freshmen and sophomores who have never ran before.”

East Hall’s girls team finished third in points among the 12 schools to send a girls squad. Avana Anderson took first place in the high jump, and the Lady Vikings finished second and third in triple jump. 

“I think we got a good gauge of what we can potentially do today,” Boone said. 

Cummings was also pleased with the early look at his team. 

Although some of the Eagles best athletes who are still playing for the Eagles’ basketball and wrestling teams did not participate, the defending Class A Private state champions still finished second in points on the day. Jermain Harris took first in the 400-meter dash and second in the high jump. Meanwhile, Eagles relay teams took second in the 800-meter relay and the 1600-meter relay.

“I saw some kids that are newcomers for us who did really well,” Cummings said. “Some kids that had been around for a while maybe did a little better than I thought they would do. I’m really excited.” 

Among other area competitors, the East Hall boys team finished 11th in points. North Hall’s boys took 10th, while the girls slotted in at 11th.

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