THE JEFFERSON boys’ track season ended where the Dragons hoped it would — on the podium.
Jefferson boasted one state champion — Mason Hamrick in the pole vault — and two second-place finishers at the boys’ state track meet, finishing in a tie with Fitzgerald for fourth with 48 points.
“I think we did good,” junior Dalton Hill said. “I’m really proud of Mason Hamrick for getting the state championship for the third time now. He’s really a big part of our team scoring points for us. All the running events were good. We placed. A lot of us qualified.”
Lamar County (77 points) edged Westminster (74.5 points) for the Class AA state title. Greater Atlanta Christian was third with 57 points.
Jefferson earned a team trophy for finishing fourth as well as a spot on the podium.
“Yes, I was pleased, and not necessarily just because we got the trophy, but because of the things we did to get it,” coach Tim Corbett said.
Corbett pointed out that the Dragons either set or matched seven personal records during the state meet.
“It’s a very tangible way to say these guys got after it,” Corbett said.
Jefferson competed in four running event finals Saturday as the 43rd Georgia Olympics came to a close.
Hill earned the highest finish of the day, placing third in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 39.83. He took seventh in the 110-meter hurdle finals with a time of 15.64 seconds.
It was a painful afternoon for Hill — literally — after bruising his ankle in the 110-meter hurdles and re-injuring it while gutting out his third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles.
“But I knew I had to get the points, and I couldn’t let my team down,” Hill said. “So I just pushed through the pain.”
Hill pushed through the pain again by running on the 4x400 meter team, which finished fifth with a team-best time of 3:25.07.
Tradd Porter was also a finalist Saturday, finishing seventh in the 800-meter finals with a time of 2:00.23.
Jefferson racked up the majority of its points on Thursday during the field events, netting 18 points alone in the pole vault.
Hamrick, who has signed with Georgia Tech, won his third career state title in that event with a vault of 15 feet, joining former Dragons Tyler Porter and Chris Keen as three-time winners. Hamrick was awarded the overall state champion performance award. James Howard finished as runner-up, clearing 14 feet to close his career.
“It’s the way it needed to end,” said Howard, who has signed a track and field scholarship with Harding College. “I had a really good vault in the beginning there and then my ankle started wearing. So as the bar went up, my vaults went down and we evened up at 14 feet.”
Howard was proud that the Dragons swept the top two spots in the pole vault.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “We’ve always been talking about sweeping pole vault. And I think that’s the first time in quite a few years that anyone has swept the pole vault in any classification.”
Satchel Turpin produced the Dragons’ other big finish Thursday with a second-place showing in the triple jump with a personal-best of 45-01.5. Ironically, Turpin — a senior who only joined the track team this year — wasn’t sold on the triple jump before the season started but remembered what the father of teammate Tradd Porter (Brantley Porter) told him.
“He told me my main event would probably be the triple jump and I didn’t believe it,” Turpin said. “But that’s what it ended up being so I should probably give him some credit.”
Turpin added points with a seventh-place finish in the high jump (6-2). Ethan Hix also placed Thursday, taking fifth in the discus (136-09).
In the only finals event on Friday, Addison Cochran finished seventh in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:29.62.
Howard, a senior, praised the role that several of his younger teammates played in Jefferson’s fourth-place finish, pointing to Cochran’s placing in the 3,200 meters and Archer Goggans filling in for Porter in the 4x400 meter preliminaries.
“We didn’t do as good as we were predicted to do, but we had a lot of freshmen step up and get the job done,” said Howard, who also pointed out that Max Higgins also competed in the 1,600 meters as a freshman.
That leaves Howard with a lot to look forward to as a spectator at future state meets.
“I plan on coming back and watching every single year,” Howard said.
Similarly, Corbett also expressed his excitement for next season.
“The future looks good,” Corbett said. “I’m really looking forward to next year, and I’ve already got ideas spinning through my mind about how I’m going to use some people a little differently maybe.”
Meanwhile, Corbett said this year’s Georgia Olympics ran smoothly again and thanked the large number of volunteers that pulled the event together for the 43rd consecutive year.
“I feel like I say it every year, but I felt like this one went a little better,” he said.
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