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April 14, 2014

Blue Devils to host region track meet

TIFTON — Tift County High will be abuzz Thursday. There will be the normal ringing of school bells and student vehicles in and out. Over at the track, there will be a flurry of colors and several extra buses. The Region 1-AAAAAA track meet is happening and the Blue Devils are the host.

Alonzo Hampton, boys head coach, is thankful for that.

"The kids can sleep in their own beds," he said. Head girls coach Mike Collier added "our girls are familiar with our place. We don't have to load up and drive."

Preliminaries, he said, would be starting at 10 a.m. Jumping events get going at about 2 p.m., with finals scheduled to begin at about 5:30.

"We need to score points in every event," said Hampton. "I feel good about our chances to hoist the trophy."

Hampton rates Camden County as the event's favorite. Collier suggested Valdosta as a potential girls favorite, by virtue of them being defending champs. Tift was second to the Lady 'Cats at the only common event for them, the Blue Devil Invitational in March.

The girls have the defending three-time state pole vault champion Katie Utley, but are far from being a one-person team. Collier is happy to talk about the whole roster.

"We're going to bust our tails to win the tournament," he said. "Each week we've gotten better." They have had to work extra hard. They did not make two of their originally scheduled meets, one at Bainbridge and another at Lowndes. Bainbridge had the unfortunate luck of coinciding with the state boys basketball finals.

"Staceyanna (Murrell) has really done a good job," he said.

Sky Moore and Aquilla Hayes will be in the 300-meter hurdles. The 100-meter hurdles will feature Kerian Tolbert. Chasity Butts competes in triple jump and Abby Bergeron and long jump. High jump features Sharquavia Williams and Dail Adaway.

He's a bit hesitant on one part. "Long distance-wise, we're young." Sarah Willis is his choice there. But he assures, "I expect our girls to do well."

Despite listing favorites, he and Hampton agree on a result: "Anyone can win it."

For the boys, Josh Curry will be in the mile and 2-mile. Dalton Ellis is No. 1 in the region in pole vault, with Donovan Smith No. 2, he said.

Hampton said "Isaiah Fullmore has gotten better. D.D. Walker had the 2nd fastest time in the 400 meters."

He continued through his roster. J.C. Clark will represent the team in the shot put and discus, Danny Patterson in the high hurdles, Quay Duggins, Wendell White and R.J. Merriweather in the triple jump. Dravis Sears, Walker and Gary Stevenson will be in the long jump.

Hampton said his boys are confident. "Our kids know in some events they're top dog." He has been waiting all year for this moment. "The process is about to come to fruition."

The next round will be the sectionals, also scheduled to take place at home. That is scheduled for April 26.

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