Allatoona pole vaulter Tray Oates became a repeat champion, one year after winning the same event in Class AAA. Now competing with the Class AAAAA athletes, Oates cleared 16 feet, 1 inch, outleaping Lakeside-DeKalb’s Jeff Jernigan by more than a foot.
“I went for 16-8 on my second attempt, which would have been an all-state record, and was like a foot over it,” said Oates, who still claimed the highest vault of any classification. “I thought I had it but hit it with my chest a bit on the way down and heard the crowd sigh a little bit.”
The senior bound for Samford improved upon the mark he reached in last season’s state meet, 15-6.
“This whole year, I was winning meets, so I was kind of nervous that there could be karma or something and I wasn’t going to win state,” Oates said.
Oates’ Allatoona teammate, Hunter Arnold, was fourth at 12-6.
Pope distance runner Patrick Fleming was another repeat champion, achieving the feat in the Class AAAAA 1,600-meter run. The Class AAAA champion in 2012, Fleming crossed the line in 4 minutes, 15.58 seconds.
“I had a different strategy than last year,” he said. “I stayed with the pack and didn’t let it get away and then broke away in the end. Last year, I was more of an underdog. This year, I came in as a favorite, so it was a lot harder with the expectations of coming in and winning again this year. But I had to keep my mind set on the prize and not let last year’s performance get in the way of this year.”
Fleming won comfortably, with McIntosh’s Brad Hort more than 4 seconds behind. It was also an improvement over his title-winning time from last year (4:18.10).
In the Class AAAAAA shot put, Hillgrove’s Jaylan Reid won the title with a throw of 56-2, a 3½-foot edge on Brookwood’s Jared Munday. Harrison’s Joey Connors was fifth at 50-3½.
“(Thursday) was an outstanding day by him,” Hillgrove coach Antoine Prince said of Reid. “Not only did he win the shotput, but he also threw his personal best and a new school record. It was just a phenomenal day for him.”
In the discus, it was Connors who prevailed over Reid, winning the title with a throw of 157-7 — 1½ feet beyond Parkview’s John Patterson. Reid was fifth at 146-6.
North Cobb Christian teammates Chase Carroll and John Towne were two-time placers in the private-school Class A competition.
Carroll finished fifth in the discus (134-3) and fourth in the shot put (46-11). Towne was the runner-up in the long jump at 21-6½ — less than 3 inches shy of Our Lady of Mercy’s Christian Coleman — and finished third in the triple jump (41-2).
In the Class AAAAAA pole vault, Kennesaw Mountain’s Taylor Ward (13-6) and Lassiter’s Ethan Bilkert (13-0) finished second and third, respectively. Brookwood’s Reece Morrow won at 14 feet.
In the Class AAAAAA 1,600 run, Cobb County’s success in distance races showed, with local runners finishing second, third and fifth — Walton teammates Kenan Farmer (4:15.96) and Brian Sullivan (4:16.27) and Marietta’s Jake Bagwell (4:19.82).
Farmer was a close second to Mill Creek’s Tyler Woodrome, who edged the Walton runner by 11-hundredths of a second.
Whitefield Academy’s Robby Keough was second in the Class A 1,600, finishing in 4:15.34. It was his second consecutive runner-up finish, one year after losing out to former teammate Cameron Thornton.
The state meet will continue today with preliminary heats of the running events and finals of the 3,200 run, then conclude with the running finals Saturday.
Harrison and Hillgrove each had 20 points after the first day of competition, trailing Gwinnett County neighbors Mill Creek (28) and Brookwood (27) in Class AAAAAA. Walton (14) was seventh.
Pope (11) was eighth in Class AAAAA. In Class A, North Cobb Christian (22) was third and Whitefield (13) ninth.
MDJ sports correspondent Michael Foster contributed to this report.