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May 7, 2014

Tift’s thinclads headed for state meet

TIFTON — Ask boys track coach Alonzo Hampton about the state track meet at Jefferson and he will say that the Tift County Blue Devils are on a mission.

Only qualified for two events in the three-day meet that begins today, the Devils are out of the running for a state title, but that is not going to stop them from doing what they can. "We're going to go and have fun," he said. Especially, as he said, it is the first time any of them have ever been to state.

The two events they qualified for are pole vault and the 4x400-meter relay.

Dalton Ellis cleared a height of 10'06" in the sectional meet. A junior, Hampton said he has had the joy of watching him improve all year. And now he is among the best in Georgia. "Only 16 guys made it," he said.

Pole vault begins at 11 a.m. Thursday according to the GHSA meet program. The relays are at 11 a.m. Friday. Hampton said that with the early starts, his qualifiers will be getting a two-night stay up north. They were leaving after football practice Wednesday evening.

"I feel good about our chances," he said.

Their time in the region meet, 3:32.38, was not the greatest. "We didn't run our best," he said. Part of the problem was that the Devils were missing a man Hampton calls his top sprinter, Jermarion Billington, who was injured and did not run. "I knew we could run 3:20-3:25."

Billington was back for sectionals and boosted the team so much, they shaved nearly 12 seconds off the region mark, 3:20.68, definitely in the coach's range. That gave them third place in their heat and more than enough to send them to Jefferson.

Hampton said their immediate goal was to make it into the finals. From there, "anything can happen in the finals." He is running a relatively young team. Billington, Danny Patterson and D.D. Walker are seniors, he said, but Josh Ajiero is a junior and Barry Bennett is a sophomore.

"The kids have been practicing for two weeks. They've been working hard and have done everything I've asked them to do."

He is really happy for his seniors to finally make it to Jefferson. "It couldn't happen to three better guys."

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20140801 Tift volleyball.JPG

The 2014 Tift County Lady Devils volleyball team. Summer Bennett, Chat Butts, Carolina Carter, Kaleigh Hobby, Molly Jones, Savannah Kendrick, Mariena McCullough, Dail Adaway, Vanity Golson, Alex Miller, Taylor Nimmo, Amanda Riddle, Logan Seeman, Taylor Cross, Karina Delgado, Audrey McElhaney, Madison Spivey, Julianna Cross and Olivia Thomas Assistants are Dana Fletcher and Chance Benson. Head coach is Courtney Mitchell.

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