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Barger wins mile state title; one more to go
Flowery Branch's Eckenroth king of the pole vault in Class AAAA
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Georgia Olympics
Local placers
Class AAAA

Place    Name,School    Event
1st    Austin Eckenroth, Flowery Branch     pole vault
7th    Wesley Wong, Habersham Central    triple jump
Class AAA
1st    Cody Barger, North Hall    1,600 meter
4th    Tyler Armour, Chestatee    pole vault
7th    Brandon Lawson, North Hall    1,600
7th    Taylor Guthrie, Lumpkin County    triple jump
Class AA
1st    Mason Hamrick, Jefferson    pole vault
Class A
2nd    Tarvin Dukes, Riverside Military    discus
6th    Michael Eason, Commerce    shot put

JEFFERSON - North Hall's Cody Barger had a guilty conscience after winning the state title in the 1,600 meter race Thursday at the Georgia Olympics in Jefferson.

Even though Barger was first to cross the finish line with a time of 4 minutes, 15.75 seconds, he wanted to have the lead for at least half of the one-mile race to feel like his victory was justified, but he didn't end up taking the lead until a final kick in the final 50 meters to overtake Eagle's Landing's Zack Sims for victory.

Barger even expressed his regret about winning to Sims after the race, even though he won fair and square.

Sims was in a full sprint the final 200 meters, but it wasn't enough to hold off Barger - the only other competitor truly in the hunt for victory - toward the end and finished 1/2-second back.

"I don't feel good about winning," Barger said. "I told him (Sims) at the finish that I felt dirty about winning."

Meanwhile, Flowery Branch's Austin Eckenroth had a much more jovial feeling about winning the Class AAAA state title in the pole vault.

Eckenroth, a state runner-up in 2010, reached his best height of 15-feet, 1-inch early, then had the opportunity to try for a new state record of 15-7, that missed, with his final two attempts.

With another year of high school remaining, Eckenroth will be back at the state championships in 2012 with hopes of improving on his personal best at state.

This year was certainly an uphill battle for Flowery Branch's vaulter to make it back to state.

A broken hand at the start of the season left Eckenroth unable to practice.

However, Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells said it ultimately made him a better athlete taking up sprints, including running the anchor leg of the 400-relay team, in the mean time.

"Having the broken hand really sharpened his focus," Sorrells said. "He's a year older now and more mature than he was last season."

Eckenroth cleared his first three attempts at 13, 13-6 and 14 before missing his first attempt at 14-6.

He cleared 14-6 on his second try before moving the bar up to 15-1. He easily defeated second-place finisher Derrell Dukes of Madison County (13-6).

"I'm real happy to win the state title," Eckenroth said.

Barger earned 10 points for North Hall with his state title, along with two points in the same race from his teammate Brandon Lawson (seventh, 4:25.09) and gave North Hall 12 points and fourth place after Day 1.

In the mile race, Barger and Sims separated from the rest of the field after two laps, and the gap widened significantly more with only one lap remaining.

With only 200 meters left, Barger considered settling back and graciously excepting a second place finish: he felt like Sims ran a better race, plus wanted to conserve some energy for today's 3,200 meter final.

"He (Sims) has a lot of heart and ran a great race," Barger said.

Barger is looking to win the two-mile run, the same race he won as a sophomore at state.

In Class AA, Jefferson's Mason Hamrick won the pole vault state title (13-0), keeping the school's string alive since three-time state champion Tyler Porter graduated last year.

Riverside Military's Tarvin Dukes set a new personal best in the discus and finished runner-up in Class A at 150-2.

Even though he wanted to win it all in his final high school meet, he finished well back of the Schley County's Jeremy Blue (167-9), who propelled his best throw on his final attempt.

Still, Dukes did accomplish one goal in the discus: defeat his constant rival Nick Fulks of East Jackson, who emerged as the Class AA state champion (149-8).

"I feel good about how I did, but it's still kind of bittersweet," Dukes said. "I really did want to win it."


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