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North Hall boys, West Hall girls win at Hall County championship
West Hall's Kearse won 3 individual races, part of 1 relay win
Johnson’s Juan Soto clears the bar Thursday during the pole vault event as part of the Hall County track and field championships at Johnson High School. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

OAKWOOD — North Hall’s Luis Gonzalez wasn’t thinking too far ahead, even though he turned in a dominant performance in his 3,200 meter run in Thursday’s Hall County Championship meet at Johnson.

Running the two-mile for the first time in track and field, Gonzalez’s performance was one of the highlights with a time of 9 minutes, 35.2 seconds, and winning the race 34 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

Even though his time was on par with some of the best in Class AAA this season, Gonzalez isn’t sold on running the longest of the distance races in the region meet. He was just pleased with turning in a good time for the team.

Gonzalez’s first love is still the 800, which he also won at the county championship in 1:59.78.

“I was just trying to turn in a good time out there (in the 3,200), not trying to murder it,” said Gonzalez, who has signed to run cross country next season at Truett-McConnell College.

Gonzalez’s effort, along with wins from freshman Bryce Schuebert in the 1,600 (4:36.81), Imani Cross in the shot put (47 feet, 0 inches) and Ithello Cross in the 300 hurdles (47.66), led the Trojans to a commanding victory with 161 points. Gainesville’s boys earned second (111) and Flowery Branch was third (109).

West Hall sprinter Maia Booker and hurdler LeNiesha Kearse led their team to a girls win with 127 points. Flowery Branch earned second (112) and Gainesville took third (110).

Athletes were all pretty much in agreement that the county championships were best for giving a measuring stick of which teams are best, even though it was also a tune-up for the region meets, state sectionals and state championships that are soon to follow.

After a successful run this season, the Lady Spartans didn’t disappoint at Hall County. West Hall’s LeNiesha Kearse took first in the 100 hurdles (16.14), 300 hurdles (50.44), triple jump (32-02.75) and was part of its winning 400 relay squad (50.92).

Meanwhile, sophomore Maia Booker won in the 100 (12.09), 200 (25.51) and was anchor of the 400 relay squad.

Booker felt like it was good timing for the race after sustaining a tail bone injury a couple of weeks ago.

“I love to run in a race like this and see all my friends,” Booker said. “It’s a friendly competition.”

Leading the Lady Red Elephants was sophomore Sara Hayes with wins in the 800 (2:29.47) and 1,600 (5:32.15). Following her normal form, Hayes ran behind the leader for the first three laps in the mile run, then made her move in the final lap.

“I try to kick at the end of the race since I’m a sprinter,” Hayes said.

A third-place finisher at state in Class AAAAA last season while at Milton High, Chestatee junior Brandon Thompson took both his favorite races with wins in the 100 (10.97) and also the 200 (22.16). He also anchored the War Eagles’ 400-relay team that almost overtook eventual winner Flowery Branch at the line.

“I’m shooting for winning two golds at state this season,” Thompson said.

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