Jefferson girls net another county title

(scroll to the bottom for boys' story)

Jefferson girls’ track and field coach Chad Cheatham said he challenged his athletes prior to last week’s county championships.

Apparently, they were listening.

The Lady Dragons finished with 101 points to beat East Jackson (61), Commerce (54) and Jackson County (32) in the March 22 event held at Memorial Stadium. This was Jefferson’s sixth-straight girls’ title.

“I’m proud of our kids the way they fought,” Cheatham said. “They fought with heart. I challenged them (last Monday) before practice, and we had a great practice. They came out on fire ready to win. It’s good to win that county thing.”

Akera Benton won three events to lead Jefferson in the dominating victory. She began her day with a victory in the long jump (17-01.5) and added a pair of victories on the track in the 200 meters (26.80) and the 400 meters (59.58).

Including Benton’s win in the long jump, Jefferson won four of six field events to rack up early points. Other field event winners were Grace Haney (discus, 95-05), Ryan Childress (shot put, 30-03.75) and Mackenzie Wells (high jump, 5-01).

“That’s pretty strong in the field,” Cheatham said.

Jefferson moved on to the running events and earned wins from Maggie Dyer (1,600 meters, 5:31.88), Mariah Starks (100-meter hurdles, 17.29) and Taylor Love (300-meter hurdles, 50.64) in addition to Benton’s two sprint victories.

The Lady Dragons also swept the relay events, winning the 4 x 100 with a time of 51.28 seconds and closing the night with a victory in the 4 x 400 with a time of 4:18.32, holding off East Jackson.

Cheatham said winning the county title “means a lot.”

“It’s great competition,” he said. “It’s always good to be the winner in your county with four schools. My hat’s off to them. I think they do a great job with what they’ve got. But this was one pretty sweet I have to say.”

In its second-place finish, East Jackson picked up a victory in the 800 meters from Sue Ann Morales (2:21.38) to go with four second-place finishes.

For Commerce, Marae Curruth won the 100 meters (13.18), Kate Massey won the 3,200 meters (13:01) and Anna Hardy took the top spot in the pole vault (8-00).

Jackson County enjoyed a strong day in the field events with Destiny Gaudlock winning the triple jump (32-00.5) and Sadondra Wells winning the pole vault (8-00).

•••

Season-best marks highlight Dragon win at county championships

The Jefferson boys’ track and field team established 34 season-best marks at last week’s county championships. Not-so-coincidently the Dragons won the March 22 meet in convincing fashion.

With seven first-place finishes and 105 points, Jefferson topped East Jackson (61), Commerce (55) and Jackson County (27) to take the title.

“In building a program, we strive for quality depth from the ground up,” coach Tim Corbett said. “Based on the outcome (last week), I feel great about our numbers. More importantly, we have some really solid young people coming up through our program.”

Jonanthan Paolozzi and Jared Brown provided the highlights early in the evening with Paolozzi winning the discus (138-00) and Brown taking the top spot in the pole vault (12-06).

On the track, Alex Mason swept the hurdles, with times of 16.04 (110 meters) and 43.38 (300 meters), and Archer Goggans grabbed a victory in the 400 meters (54.10). Jefferson swept the relays with victories in the 4 x 100 (44.75) and 4 x 400 (3:38.34) to cap off the team win.

“Winning is contagious and a habit, just like losing,” Corbett said. “Our entire high school program enjoyed and shared in the success.”

Corbett noted that his team might have been dragging a bit from a busy schedule but managed to produce results nonetheless.

“Even though I felt as though our team was a tad flat from all that we have done the past two weeks, we still managed some really good performances,” Corbett said. “More importantly, we got better in just about every event.”

Corbett said the familiarity between the all the teams makes the county meet an enjoyable event — especially when winning it.

“Bragging rights are always good,” Corbett said. “I know the kids get a kick out of it. I think they get a little pumped up about competing against someone they know … They’re all on a first-name basis.”

In finishing as runners-up, East Jackson swept the middle and long distance events. Chandler Kennedy won the 800 meters (1:59.28) and Chase Kennedy swept the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters (times of 4:21.26 and 9:47.21 respectively). The Eagles also picked up a trio of victories in the field events with Jalen Morgan winning the high jump (6-02), Andrew Scott taking the long jump (21-08) and Jamarion Knox winning the triple jump (41-10.25).

Third-place Commerce claimed victories in three events. Tretez Barksdale won the 100 meters (10.93) and 200 meters (23.35). Adrian Vaquera took the top spot in the shot put (43-09).

Chase Wester led Jackson County with a pair of second-place finishes. Wester took the runner-up spot in the long jump (19-08.25) and the triple jump (40-09.50). Elijah Stovall took second in the pole vault (11-00).

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