Tifton Gazette

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April 30, 2014

State track meet starts Friday for Lady Devils

TIFTON — Starting Friday, Albany and Hugh Mills Stadium will be bustling. Bustling with busses as 58 schools descend upon the area. Somewhere in that crowd will four jerseys of a familiar shade of blue, with a white 'T' emblazoned on the front.

The Tift County Lady Devils will be in town, ready for another shot at state titles, though these would likely come individually. With Westlake sending 16 athletes to compete in 19 events, the locals' chances are a bit more slim for a team title.  They will have better representation than that a year ago when Tift sent just two athletes to Albany.

They hope to be hanging around much longer than the Friday start date. While the qualifying and finals of the field events all take place Friday, track events finish up Saturday. There is one Lady Devil involved with those.

Individual titles have been part of recent history. Katie Utley, top seed in the pole vault, is attempting to snag her fourth straight crown in the event. She set a state record last year by clearing 12'6". Eleven feet is all she needed for the sectional title.

Others competing are Staceyanna Murrell, Quasha Fergerson and Sky Moore.

Murrell swept to a double sectional title, winning both the shot put and discus. In the former, she threw for 37'11" and in the latter she went for 125'02". She was the other state finalist from Tifton last year, finishing 8th in the discus, having thrown it 113'11" at state. She is seeded third in that event this year.

Fergerson also competes in the shot. Remarkably this is her first year competing, according to head coach Mike Collier. Her distance was 7th best in sectionals.

Moore's event is the 400-meter dash and she is in by the narrowest of margins. She finished 8th at sectionals and a mere .33 seconds ahead of the individual ranked 9th.

Tift does have the second best number of female athletes out of the region and is tied for being in the most events. Brunswick has seven athletes going, but that includes a relay team. Both the Lady Pirates and Valdosta have also qualified for five events. Valdosta has three athletes headed west and Lowndes and Camden have one each. Neither Coffee nor Colquitt qualified anyone.

Lower classification track and field began today. Admission to the state track finals is $7 per day. The GHSA said on its website that finals will be broadcast live on NFHSNetwork.com/GHSA, though a subscription is required to view them. Live meet results will be available at www.ptgrouponline.com/Live/2014/HS/GHSA/Girls/.

The official GHSA program sets qualifying for discus at 9:30 a.m. Friday, with shot put coming at 11:30 and pole vault at 1:30 p.m. The 400-meter qualifying heats are scheduled to start at 4:20. If Moore can make it to the finals, that is set to start at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Tift County boys will be competing next week at Jefferson.

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