After looking at the results following the field events, leading into the final day of the Georgia Olympics, Jefferson High track coach Tim Corbett made a discovery he didn’t necessarily expect: the Dragons had a good chance of finishing in the top two in the race for the Class AA state team title.
“After we scored 33 points in the field events Thursday, we weren’t going to have to score many points in the running events to earn second place (behind Westminster),” said Corbett, who also serves as tournament director at Jefferson Memorial.
“Coming into things, we felt if we could finish top 5 or 6, then it would be a good meet for our team.”
However, the Dragons got just the cushion they needed in the running events during the final day of the three-day event when Derrick Perkins finished fourth in the 110 hurdles (five points) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (three points) to secure the team title, their first since 2004.
“We were fortunate to be in that position and it was enjoyable to earn that team title,” Corbett said. “It was neat the way it happened like it did.”
For his efforts, Corbett is The Times 2010 Track Coach of the Year.
The determining factor in Jefferson’s state title was clearly the fact it scored 33 points in the field events.
The Dragons only had four athletes (Josh Kles, Tyler Porter, Sky Porter and Perkins) score points at state, but they overcame that lack of depth with three individual state titles.
“It goes to show what you can accomplish if you have good quality athletes,” Corbett said.
Kles was Jefferson’s big points earner when he landed state titles in the shot put and discus, good enough for 20 points.
Then Tyler Porter won the high jump with a new all-classification record of 16 feet, 7.25 inches, which was topped shortly after by Gainesville’s Paul Malquist (16-8).
Not only did Jefferson count on its athletes to score points when they had a chance, but the Dragons also had to overcome significant odds to claim the state title.
Jefferson came out of the Region 8-AA meet with a third-place finish, behind first-place finisher North Oconee, which qualified 14 athletes for state.Even with the odds stacked against Jefferson, it rolled to the state title with a six-point cushion over Westminster.
Corbett credits the assistance of parental involvement, including Gary Porter, Tyler’s father, and Keith Kles, Josh’s father, with aiding in their training.
Next season, Corbett will look to reload his program with the Porters, not related, and Kles all graduating.
“Derrick has one more season and he’s going to have a lot on his shoulders,” Corbett said.
Of course, Corbett may have the ultimate leverage to get the school’s best athletes to join the track and field program next year: a state title.
“It’s nice to win one every once in a while,” Corbett said. “It makes all the hard work worth it.”