By Jeffery Armstrong
The Riverdale Raiders' girls track team broke four county records Thursday evening in the rain at Tara Stadium, dominating the field to win the 2003 Clayton County Track and Field Championships for the third consecutive year.
The Lady Raiders scored an outstanding 169 total points, the fourth-highest girls point total in county history. Riverdale assistant girls track coach Terry Beckham said winning the county meet never gets old.
"It feels good to win again. This group was young when we started, but they grew together as a team," said Beckham. "They're also very spiritual and give God the praise for winning. They pray together and they are very unified."
While the girls' county champion was a repeat winner, the boys produced a new champ for the sixth straight year. The Morrow Mustangs scored 127 points, outlasting the Riverdale Raiders to win the county championship for the first time since 1991.
The high point trophies went to Shaka Dennison of Mt. Zion and Lawrence Jackson of Morrow.
The Riverdale Lady Raiders' seem to have a stranglehold on the relay events. Riverdale has bested its times in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays for the third straight year and 2003 saw record-setting results.
The Riverdale "A" team of Erica Williams, Dominique Thurman, Centauria Olds and Tia Perry won the 4x100 with a time of 47.63, shattering the previous record of 49.01 set by the 1994 Lady Raiders. That same team shattered its 2002 4x400 record by more than five seconds.
Individually, Perry set the new 400 meters record at 55.94, eclipsing Dawnyell Linder of Lovejoy (56.11 in 1994). Nicole Rodriques broke her record of 15.23 in the 100 meter hurdles with a 2003 time of 14.99.
Riverdale junior Jessika Johnson said she was happy to be on a winning team.
"It feels good to win, especially with all the hard work we put into it this year," she said.
Morrow's Jackson said he felt good to win the high point title, despite not winning the 200 meters. He felt he would've won the event had it not been for the rain. He also said the key to his success this year was not overloading himself in events like in 2002.
"I came into this meet expecting to win both dashes and I was a little bit off on the 200," said Jackson, who ran a record 49.02 in the 400 meters. "But it's okay. We won the county for the first time since 1991 and I'm happy with that."
Morrow head coach Sam Pennypacker, county meet director, praised Jackson's work ethic.
"Lawrence goes into every race expecting to win," he said. "He has the attitude of a winner."
Final county boys totals were: Morrow (127), Riverdale (108), Lovejoy (88), Mt. Zion (63), Forest Park (50), Jonesboro (37), North Clayton (20), Mundy's Mill (0).
Final county girls totals were: Riverdale (169), Morrow (97), Mt. Zion (93), Lovejoy (43), North Clayton (37), Mundy's Mill (20), Jonesboro (17), Forest Park (5).