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Gainesville girls going to state
Flowery Branch High’s Ashley Hillie finishes first in the 100-meter dash Tuesday afternoon during the Region 7-AAA girls track finals at the West Forsyth County High track. Hillie finished with a time of 12.85 seconds.

CUMMINGThe West Forsyth girls track team has managed, in its first year of competition in Region 7-AAA, to set the bar pretty high for the program’s future.

With an overall score of 116 — 15 points better than second-place Gainesville and 33 points better than third-place Flowery Branch — the Lady Wolverines ran away from the field and took the Region 7-AAA girls title Tuesday on its home track.

"I was hoping for it," West Forsyth head track coach Clayton Tiller said. "(Assistant coaches) Bob Fuller and Rick Zacholski came in here and got the kids to believe in themselves and the kids took care of the rest."

"I think we finished great," Gainesville coach Wayne Jones said. "We scored 30 more points than we did in last year’s region championships.

"The girls came out focused and warmed up well led by Caitlyn Ludwig and Dominique Woods our two captains who got them on track, we just came up short."

Gainesville had no competitors in the 800 meters, 1600 meters and 3200 meters.

"That right there is 93 points we have no chance of gaining until our distance program at Gainesville gets back on track."

West Forsyth didn’t pick up its first win on the day until the fifth event when Kat Gibson beat North Hall’s Morgan Van Gorder by 0.08 seconds in the 800 meters.

That first win of the day catapulted the Lady Wolverines who went on to win or come in second in three-of-the-last-five events.

"It’s huge," assistant coach Zacholski said. "We are a brand-new school with a young nucleus and it’s a huge victory. The girls are excited."

"We hope this win helps build the program," assistant coach Fuller said. "These girls come out every meet and mean business and are young, so they’ll be here a couple more years hopefully performing just like this."

In the first event of the day, the 4X100-meter relay, the Gainesville team of Tosha Turner, Caitlyn Ludwig, Dominique Woods and Kiki Thompson took first place with a team best time of 49 minutes, 2 seconds.

"We did real good," Thompson said. "Our handoffs were smooth and Tosha (Turner) got off to a good start."

"Everyone got out hard," Gainesville junior, and co-captain of the girls track team, Ludwig said. "We’ve been working hard this season."

Dominique Woods, the anchor leg for the relay team, was the peak performer for Gainesville in the region championships.

She not only finished off the 4X100 relay win for Gainesville but also won the 400 meters and the Triple Jump.

"I’m really excited about my wins and proud of myself," Woods said.

Woods, as do all the first and second-place finishers from Tuesday’s region meet, moves on to state where she will run in the 4X100-meter relay and the 400 meters and compete in the triple jump.

"I am going to focus on besting my times while at state," Woods said.

Flowery Branch’s Ashley Hillie and Erica Rucker took the sprints by storm as each finished first and second respectively in the 100 and 200 meters.

"It feels good to be back home," Flowery Branch senior sprinter Hillie said. "My sophomore year I won both events but my junior year I was runner-up and I was down because of it.

"I knew that I wanted to leave this meet with no regrets."

Hillie is looking to compete at state, even though she is well aware of what she is up against.

"I want to do my best," Hillie said. "At state, you can’t get discouraged you can only worry about yourself and do what you can do."

For Rucker, a freshman, she is excited about her wins but apprehensive about the experience that is the state track meet.

"I didn’t get all my PR (personal record) times but our 4X400 team beat our best by six seconds so that was cool. It’s been a good year.

"I am kinda scared (about state)," Rucker said. "I am just a freshman and it’s nerve wracking and intimidating."

Flowery Branch’s 4X400 team came in second to West Forsyth’s in the final event of the day.

Other winners on the day: Flowery Branch won both first and second in the 4X800 meters, White County’s Sara Walcott beat Pickens Sarah Turner by 2.7 seconds in the 3200 meters, Flowery Branch’s Sam Salyers beat White County’s LaDarryen Stephens by .30 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, Stephens beat West Forsyth’s Sloan Bunting by 1.9 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles.

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