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Athlete of the Week: Drew Garland
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Brad Keller, Flowery Branch: Threw a no hitter in a 1-0 win against Madison County on Monday.

Chase Hulsey, Flowery Branch: Pitched a complete-game, one-hitter with 10 strikeouts against Madison County on Thursday.

Brody Thomas, Flowery Branch: Had four hits in a loss to Heritage on Saturday.

C.J. White, East Hall: Had a home run and double against Dawson County on Thursday.

Skyler Weber, Gainesville: Had two hits and three RBIs in a win against Oconee County on Monday.

David Gonzalez, Gainesville: Pitched five shutout innings in a win against Lumpkin County on Friday.

Michael Gettys, Gainesville: Had a three-run homer against Lumpkin County.

Tyler Cone, Jefferson: Had two doubles, three hits in a win against Banks County on Friday.

A.J. Benefield, Johnson: Doubled twice in a loss to Oconee County on Thursday.

Derek Fadool, Lakeview Academy: Went 2 for 3 with three runs scored in a win against Social Circle on Friday.

Will Anderson, Lumpkin County: Had two hits and four stolen bases in a loss to Franklin County on Monday. Had three hits and three runs scored against White County on Thursday.

Wade Phillips, North Hall: Pitched a complete-game shutout against West Hall on Friday.

Adam Kelly, North Hall: Had a three-run home run and finished with two hits against West Hall.

Andrew Smith, North Hall: Went 3 for 3 with a pair of RBIs against West Hall.

Andy Bracewell, North Hall: Shot a 32 for the Trojans on Tuesday at Achasta.

Marco Rebollar, Chestatee: Had four goals in a win against Stephens County on Tuesday.

Jacy Ramey, Flowery Branch: Scored three times in a win against Cedar Shoals on Tuesday.

Cassidy Elrod, Flowery Branch: Scored two goals with a pair of assists against Salem on Thursday.

Hartley Carter, Gainesville: Scored three goals in a win against Walnut Grove on Friday.

Matt Lewis, West Hall: Scored four goals with a pair of assists in a win against White County on Friday.

Drew Garland, Flowery Branch: Won the 1600 at Region 8-AAAA’s championship meet with a time of 4 minutes, 31.66 seconds and the 3200 in a time of 9:51.95 on Tuesday.

Austin Eckenroth: Won the Region 8-AAA title in the pole vault (16-8) on Friday in Loganville.

Alex Miller: Flowery Branch: Won the Region 8-AAAA title in the high jump (5-2) on Friday in Loganville.

Sara Hayes, Gainesville: Won the 800 (2:22) and took second in the 1600 in the Region 8-AAA meet on Friday.

Marcquel Woodard, Gainesville: Won the region title in the 800 and placed second in the 3200.

Witt Nix, North Hall: Won the 1600 in Region 8-AAA with a time of 4:33.86 Wednesday.

Gabrielle Hoffman, North Hall: Won the Region 8-AAA title in the pole vault and took third in the 100 hurdles on Friday.

Luis Gonzalez, North Hall: Won the 3200 and placed second in the 800 in the Region 8-AAA meet on Friday.

LeNiesha Kearse, West Hall: Won the 100 meter hurdles and 300 hurdles in the Region 8-AAA meet on Friday.

Jessie Dotson, White County: Ran a 5:20.99 to win the 1600 in Region 8-AAA’s girls meet on Wednesday.

Anna Kate Shaw, Flowery Branch: Won in straight sets against North Hall on Monday.

Tatum Scroggs, West Hall: Won in straight sets in the Region 8-AAA tournament against Oconee County on Friday. 

This has already been a very good year for Flowery Branch senior Drew Garland.

In the fall, he won the Region 8-AAAA cross country title and helped lead the Falcons cross country team to its first Class AAAA state championship.

Last week, he won both the 1600-meter (4:31.66) and 3200-meter (9:51.95) at the region track and field meet in Loganville, becoming Flowery Branch track and field and cross country coach Jimmy Sorrells’ first region champion in all three distance runs. For his efforts, Garland has been named The Times Athlete of the Week.

“Drew is one of those kids who came in as a freshman and I saw the talent there,” Sorrells said. “He’s turning out to be one of the fastest runners I’ve coached at Flowery Branch.”

Now Garland and his coach are looking to put the track and field program on the map the way they have already done with cross country.

For the senior, that means a top-eight, or even a top-five, finish at the Georgia Olympics in Jefferson.

“I’m hoping Drew can kind of break us out of that mode of breaking through in cross country but not breaking through in track,” Sorrells said. “I feel like Drew can definitely represent us well in Jefferson.”

Of course, Garland still has to get through sectionals first, but the senior is confident he’ll get back to state for the second consecutive season. Last year he went in the 3200 but finished outside the top eight as he recovered from sinus problems.

“I think I can easily get top eight,” Garland said. “The mile’s going to be pretty close, but at least it’s first in the day.”

He’ll also be running the two-mile that day, so he’s not expecting a personal record. He’s hoping to preserve his PR for state, something he wasn’t able to do last season.

It’s that determination, along with his leadership, that Sorrells has seen in him throughout his four years on both the track and cross country programs.

“Especially with cross country he was essential as a leader,” Sorrells said. “He’s more like a lead-by-example guy, and he’s done a great job at that.

“He’s an all-around quality individual, and he will be sorely missed, even more as a leader than as an athlete.”

The coach quickly added that Garland is also an outstanding athlete, one who has worked his way up through two years of middle school and four years of high school, excelling at academics and athletics, Sorrells said.

“The thing that makes Drew such a pleasure to be around is not athletically, but that as a person he’s just a pleasure to be around,” Sorrells said. “He’s put all the work in.”

And he doesn’t intend to stop working anytime soon. Garland has already been accepted at the University of Georgia and plans to walk on to the cross country team there.

First, he has a little more time left to put a memorable ending on an already outstanding season.

“I really hope he’s going to hit the pinnacle of his career these next weeks,” Sorrells said.

“It’d definitely be a great way to end my senior year in two seasons,” Garland said.

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