Region 4AAAAAA champion Marietta is considered one of the favorites to win the Class AAAAAA team title. The Lady Blue Devils, who are vying for their second state championship and first since 2001, have eight athletes competing for 10 titles. Jenessa Jackson is among the favorites in the shot put, while Elizabeth Hartley should contend in the pole vault and high jump. Mary Jeanne Assinzo and Nyasia Mercado are rated highly in the 800-meter run.
Hartley was third in the pole vault last season, while Jackson was second in the shot put.
Other local athletes who could stand on the Class AAAAAA podium include Kennesaw Mountain’s DoVon Johnson in the triple jump, Lassiter’s Morgan Ainslie in the 1,600, Campbell’s Erin Hardnett in both hurdle events, McEachern’s Christoni Wynn in the 100 and 200, North Cobb’s Shanel Burr in the 100 hurdles, Walton’s Alexa Womack in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs and Wheeler’s Natisha Dixon in both hurdle events.
Johnson won the triple jump last year, Burr was the 100 hurdles runner-up and Womack placed in the 1,600 and 3,200 to help Walton to its first state championship.
Several teams will challenge Marietta for the championship, including Alpharetta, Brookwood, McEachern, Mill Creek, Parkview and Peachtree Ridge. Westlake is entered in 15 events and has two entries in both the 400 and 1,600 relays.
“We’re looking forward to getting on the podium,” Marietta coach Chad Christman said. “Westlake is definitely the team to beat. They look unstoppable. They’re loaded and deep, but you never know what can happen with injuries and defaults.
“Otherwise, it’s a race for second. I think Mill Creek will get second with us, McEachern and Alpharetta battling for third and fourth. Our girls have a chance, and I expect them to make the award stand and be in the mix.”
Kell and Pope have a chance at the Class AAAAA championship. Also in the mix will be Dunwoody, Lakeside-Evans, Loganville, M.L. King and Miller Grove. Allatoona, Osborne and Sprayberry also have athletes competing.
Allatoona’s Dessaa Legros and Elise Moffatt should do well in the high jump and pole vault, respectively. Moffatt was the Class AAA state runner-up in the pole vault last year.
Pope’s Ashley Kehoe has strong marks in the 1,600 and 3,200, while Ali Moxley ranks high in the pole vault. Andrea Vahoua is the favorite to win the shot put and should do well in the discus, while Osborne’s Fallon Reed has the fourth-best mark in the long jump entering the state meet.
“I think, if we do our top performances, we have a shot,” Pope coach Butch Climmons said. “We have to perform well to do that.
“I think Kell is the favorite. They aren’t as deep as we are, but they have some strong girls in a couple of events. If we can hang with them, I’ll be happy.”
Kell’s Kendell Williams will look to complete her already impressive state title haul. The senior enters the meet with eight individual championships, last year winning the high jump, long jump and 100 hurdles.
This year, Williams is the favorite in the long jump and 100 hurdles, and she has the third-best mark in the high jump. Her Kell teammates, Marissa Keith (pole vault) and Marielle Lewis (1,600), are also expected to contend for podium spots.
If Williams can duplicate her marks from last season, and the Lady Longhorns get enough points in other events, then Kell could be tough to beat.
“Our goal has been to get as many of our girls to state as possible,” coach Andi Jenkins said. “The next step is to get to the finals. If we get as many as we can there, then I think we have a shot. Kendell has been a great leader for us, and hopefully she can walk with some more state championships.
Athens Christian, which won the last three Class A titles, is the favorite to win a fourth — this time in the private-school competition. Walker has six athletes competing in nine events, while Whitefield Academy is entered in six events, along with two relays. North Cobb Christian will compete in three events and one relay.
Walker’s Collier Middleton (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump) should earn several points, while teammate Courtney Rhule has the third-best mark in the high jump.
Alice Fugate, Corey Johnson and Morgan Landers will be strong competitors for Whitefield, which also has the fastest time in the 400 relay.
North Cobb Christian’s Megan Gavin has the second-fastest time in the 800, while Emily Buwalda has the fourth-fastest time in the 400.