The Southwest DeKalb girls track team did not win a single running event at the DeKalb County Track and Field Championships that concluded March 26—and that was just fine with Panthers’ coach Antoinette Tyrell.
“Our strategy was not to win anything, just to finish in the top three in as many events as we could,” Tyrell said.
The Panthers placed among the top four in 11 of the 16 events and won their sixth straight county championship. Southwest finished with 113.5 points while Dunwoody was second with 90 and M.L. King was third with 82. The Panthers have four state championships and two runner-up finishes in the past seven years.
Dunwoody won the boys meet for the second year in a row, edging second-place Lakeside 71-70. Only 12 points separated the top four teams in the boys meet.
In the girls’ meet, Kenya Wheeler was Southwest’s only individual champion. She won the shot put with an effort of 39 feet, 9 inches. The Panthers’ Demetria Dickens was second in the shot and the discus.
The Panthers placed second in several other events. Shunika Jarrells, who ran at Avondale last year before the school closed, placed second in the 100 and 200 meters, and was fourth in the triple jump. Greciana Cooper was second in the 1,600 and 3,200 for Southwest.
“It was a great collective effort.” Tyrell said. “We did great in the field events and we had a lot of seconds and thirds in the running. With all the elite performances that come out of this [school] system, it says a lot when you can win it six years in a row. I’m proud of them.”
Two athletes were double-winners in the girls’ meet. Sophomore Alex Cameron of Dunwoody swept the 1,600 and 3,200, while Nikia Jefferson of Redan won the 100 and 300 hurdles.
M.L. King had the most first-place finishes in the girls meet, winning the 100, 200 and both relay events.
Dunwoody claimed three first-place finishes in the boys’ meet. Dazel Clator won the 100 with a time of 10.84 seconds, Kyle Sexton placed first in the 3,200 at 9:56.37 and Coleman Gordon tied Lakeside’s Jeff Jernigan for first place in the pole vault with an effort of 11-0.
Dunwoody locked up the championship with a fourth-place finish in the 4x100 relay. “It was totally a team effort. We weren’t expected to win this time because we graduated a lot of seniors last year,” said Wildcats’ coach Brad Hendrickson.
Lakeside’s other individual winner was Brent Reynolds, who finished first in the 800 with a time of 1:56.42.
The performance of the Southwest DeKalb girls, who won state last year with only seven participants, leaves Tyrell anxiously awaiting the state meet in May.
“There is more talent in [the county meet] than there is in the state meet,” Tyrell said. “You see times at county that you won’t see at state. This is some of the best competition in the Southeast.”
Team standings (top five): Dunwoody 71; Lakeside 70; Cedar Grove 63; Stone Mountain 59; Stephenson 48.
100: Dazel Clator, Dunwoody, 10.84; 200: Ezkiel Lee, Miller Grove. 21.67; 400: Tamaric Johnson, Stone Mountain, 48.76; 800: Brent Reynolds, Lakeside, 1:56.42; 1,600: Andrew Whetten, Druid Hills, 4:26.26; 3,200: Kyle Sexton, Dunwoody, 9:56.37; 110 hurdles: Jordan Moore, M.L. King, 13.65; 300 hurdles: Bryan Earl, Towers, 38.86; 4x100 relay: Stone Mountain; 4x400 relay: Cedar Grove; high jump: Darius Fisher, Tucker, 6-4; pole vault: Coleman Gordon, Dunwoody, and Jeff Jernigan, Lakeside, 11-0; long jump: Yusuf Minor, Tucker, 22-7.5; triple jump: Kareem Nicholas, Cedar Grove, 44-6.5; shot put: Amos Harper, Stephenson, 51-5; discus: Peterson Cheridor, Columbia, 148-5.
Team standings (top five): Southwest DeKalb 113.5; Dunwoody 90; M.L. King 82; Cedar Grove 66; Chamblee 48.
100: Jada Martin, M.L. King, 11.98; 200: Tiffany Camper, M.L. King, 24.95; 400: Felicia Brown, M.L. King, 55.36; 800: Christian Pryor, Cedar Grove, 2:17.69; 1,600: Alex Cameron, Dunwoody, 5:03.86; 3,200: Alex Cameron, Dunwoody, 11:11.48; 110 hurdles: Nikia Jefferson, Redan, 14.86; 300 hurdles: Nikia Jefferson, Redan, 45.02; 4x100 relay: M.L. King; 4x400 relay: M.L. King; high jump: Lucy Mason, Chamblee, 5-6; pole vault: Erin Berger, Dunwoody, 7-6; long jump: Alyssa Felton, Chamblee, 18-6.5; triple jump: Ashleigh Rasheed, Decatur, 37-4.25; shot put: Kenya Wheeler, Southwest DeKalb, 39-9; discus: Angel Davis, Cedar Grove, 129-10.5.