In the end, depth won out for the North Hall girls and Flowery Branch boys track and field teams.
The Lady Trojans and the Falcons earned team titles at Friday’s Hall County Track and Field championships, held at Falcon Field at Flowery Branch High.
North Hall has won two of the last three girls title victories, according to Trojans coach Drew Rogers. Flowery Branch earned its first boys title since 2008, according to Falcons coach Jimmy Sorrells.
North Hall’s girls (167) finished first, followed by Gainesville (145.5), Flowery Branch (130), Chestatee (65.50), West Hall (44), Johnson (42.50) and East Hall (15.5).
Flowery Branch’s boys (187) finished first, followed by North Hall (152.50), Gainesville (105.50), Johnson (64), West Hall (58), Chestatee (44) and East Hall (3).
Jake Shewbert (9 minutes, 28.33 seconds) and Grant O’Callaghan (9:38.15) locked in a 1-2 finish in the boys 3200-meter run that ultimately clinched the team title for the Falcons. The two (Shewbert, 4:22.15; O’Callaghan, 4:26.64) also finished in the same 1-2 earlier in the 1600-meter run. With no pressure on their shoulders, the Flowery Branch boys 1600 relay team (3:32.11) ended the night with a runaway victory, opening up a five-second gap entering the final lap.
“It definitely makes life a whole lot easier,” said Sorrells of clinching the team victory before the final event. “Having two people in each event that can place, run well, that really helps set up a 1-2 punch. Depth helps us do that. It’s the type of depth we haven’t had in a while.”
Last year’s champion, Riverside Military Academy, did not compete at the meet due to a conflict with spring break.
After trailing Flowery Branch for most of the day, three event wins by Trini Puente propelled North Hall into a lead it would not concede. Puente’s win in the 100 hurdles (14.83) and 200 dash (25.79) helped cut the Lady Falcons’ lead to just five points before Olivia Bradley’s first-place finish in the 300 hurdles earned North Hall its final lead.
“It was a good day for everyone,” said North Hall coach Drew Rogers. “We won it two years ago, so it’s good to have it back after a year’s break. This is probably the most depth we’ve ever had. We don’t have any weak events, we’re strong in everything.”
The North Hall boys team also posted a strong performance, bolstered by the first-place win of junior David Seid in the boys pole vault. He matched his personal record of 12 feet, and even had a couple of attempts to try and break his best.
Seid earned the win after Gainesville’s Hunter Mallard pulled out prior to the meet with a high ankle sprain. Mallard won last year’s Class AAAAA state championship after clearing a mark of 13-6. Seid said he believes he’ll have time to improve before next month’s region championship.
“It feels real good,” said Seid. “I’ve got to still keep working on my form, getting better.”
North Hall’s Mac Bennett earned wins in both the discus and the shot put (46 feet, 3.25 inches) to keep the Trojans in contention. The junior said he was looking forward to getting into region and state sectionals competition, where he’s hoping to qualify in the top eight hurlers to reach state.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said.
The Chestatee girls found a bright spot in junior Megan Dew, who pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind win in the girls 800 race. Running in eighth place as the pack made its way into the final lap, Dew (2:27.83) was able to push herself into the lead down the final straightaway, just barely brushing past North Hall’s Mattie Bohanan (2:28.18).
Dew, who also has experience in soccer and cross country, is in her first year running track for the Lady War Eagles.
“I knew what I had to do,” said Dew. “I just had to reach down in myself and pull it out.”
Senior Cortez Davis took off and never looked back for his Falcons team in the 100 and 200-meter dash. The Flowery Branch football standout shot out of the gates to earn a body-length lead in both races, taking the 100-meter (10.69) and 200-meter (22.40) without much of a challenge.
His 100-meter time broke a personal record for Davis, which he set at last week’s meet. Davis will play football for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in the fall.
“The start was key,” said Davis. “It got me out there, I was first out of the box.”
Gainesville’s girls track team saw first-place finishes from Faith Moss in the pole vault (8-08) and Kayla Kelly in the triple jump. Former Red Elephants quarterback Messiah Dorsey placed first in the boys long jump.
The Gainesville girls 400 meter relay team earned the win, finishing in 49.85, before the 1600 relay team also clinched a very narrow victory, winning by just one-thousandth of a second.