Like a sprinter headed toward the finish line, the Flowery Branch girls track program is headed in the right direction fast.
After never scoring a point in any of their previous state meets, the Lady Falcons scored 31 points which was good enough for a tie for sixth place at the Class AAA girls state track and field meet Saturday in Albany.
“To never scoring to 31 points is huge,” Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells said. “This is the best we’ve done beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
The performance was the definition of a team effort.
A day after Kiera McCue-Woods finished second in the 1,600-meter run, Flowery Branch sophomore Erika Rucker placed third in the 200 with a time of 25.71 seconds, which was .6 seconds behind first-place finisher Jawanda King of Therrell and .26 seconds behind Kimberly Major of Stephens County.
“I just needed to be mentally prepared and focused because I was the underdog,” said Rucker, who also finished sixth in the 100 with a time of 12.34. “I’m excited because not too many sophomores get this opportunity.”
Rucker wasn’t the only Lady Falcon helping the team reach the top 10.
Junior Sam Salyers finished sixth in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles and fifth in the 300-meter low hurdles to earn seven points for the team.
“I’m emotionally excited for them,” Sorrells said. “Our expectations were to make it to the finals. I told them there was no pressure, relax and have fun and do the best they can.”
“In a way I’m disappointed for them,” he added. “I knew there was an outside chance of getting a trophy.”
While they didn’t get a trophy, the Lady Falcons turned in a performance that could be the turning point for Flowery Branch track.
The team loses two seniors, Desirae Cason and Kayla Smith, who along with Rucker and Salyers helped the Flowery Branch 400 relay team to a seventh place finish. Sorrells called Cason and Smith “great leaders” and said they will be greatly missed, but the return of plenty of young athletes has Sorrells hopeful for better finishes at state.
“I brought several of our young runners with us to experience this,” he said. “I hope they got hungry for it.”
In Class AA, Jefferson High’s Erin Knight finished fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:26.98. The Lady Dragons finished in 20th place.