By Derrick Mahone
Twenty-seven days ago, nobody would have expected Quartterrio Morgan to compete, let alone win, the 400-meters race at the Region 4-AAAA Championships.
During the Clayton County Championship last month, Morgan pulled a hamstring in qualifying on a brisk, cold day. Many thought he would just rehab and get ready for football spring football.
But Morgan is a competitor, and he wanted a chance to defend his region title.
Despite the rainy, cool weather at Southern Crescent Stadium Tuesday, Morgan ran 50.53 seconds to finish runner-up to Seven Palmer of Stockbridge, who went 50.09 seconds. Although he didn't win, Morgan was happy to qualify for the state meet.
"I wanted either first or second, I just wanted to qualify," Morgan said. "I felt real good out their. I'm back both mentally and physically."
With two more weeks to rest and train, Morgan is hopeful of improving on last season's eight place finish at state.
"I was a little concerned before the race because I didn't know how my legs would feel," said Morgan, who has committed to playing football at Georgia Tech in 2011. "I felt really good on the last 100 meters of the race."
Two weeks ago at the Morrow Invitational, Morgan gave his hamstring a test run. He finished 11th in the race, but said he felt well enough to run in the region championship.
Mount Zion coach Barry Howard said he had confidence that Morgan would have a good showing this week at region.
"We were very patience with handling the injury," Howard said. "He has been doing a full workout the last couple of weeks without pain. He seems to be back at 100 percent."
Griffin was the overall boys winner with 155 points with Alcovy taking second. Stockbridge was third with 94 points followed by Jonesboro (65 points) at fourth and Mount Zion had 61 points to finish fifth.
On the girls' side, Mount Zion ended a six-year championship drought with the region title. The Bulldogs, who last won region in 2004, had 169 points. Alcovy finished second with 123 points and Ola was third with 103. North Clayton had 63 points to finish fourth while Jonesboro had 53 points to round out the top five.
"It wasn't easy, but I'm extremely proud of these girls," Mount Zion coach Jason Battles said. "This is by far the best team that I've put together."
As expected, Alycia Prior won both the 100 and 200 events and anchored both relay teams to wins.
"I'm glad I was able to stay consistent throughout the meet," said Prior, who signed a scholarship with Auburn last November. "I feel like I stayed relax and focus, and that is why I came out on top. This is a good way to go into the state meet."
Mount Zion will send six female athletes in seven events and both relay teams to next week's state meet in Albany. Battles wasn't ready to make any predictions. "I need to see what everybody else is taking," he said. "You always try to take as many as you can to see how you stack up."
Region 4-AAAA Championships
Team results: Girls - Mount Zion 169, Alcovy 123, Ola 103, North Clayton 63, Jonesboro 53, Forest Park 45, Stockbridge 35, Dutchtown 34, Griffin 20. Boys - Alcovy 155, Griffin 115, Stockbridge 94, Jonesboro 65, Mount Zion 61, Ola 60.5, Dutchtown 53.5, North Clayton 17, Forest Park 15.
State qualifiers: (Girls) 400 relay: Mount Zion 48.17; Jonesboro 49.04. 1,600: Shannon Milikin, Stockbridge, 5:59; Evante Belardo, Forest Park, 6:01. 400: Bree Corbin, Ola, 58.62; Klarke Bass, Mount Zion, 59.22. 100: Alycia Prior, Mount Zion, 12.08; S'Kayia Hampton, North Clayton, 12.31. 100 hurdles: Alexis Coleman, Ola, 15.51; Ade Popoola, Stockbridge, 15.61. 800: Dominique Givance, Mount Zion, 2:29.0; Kanetria Kitchen, North Clayton, 2:29.6. 200: Alycia Prior, Mount Zion, 24.56; S'Kayia Hampton, North Clayton, 25.38. 300 hurdles: Ade Popoola, Stockbridge, 46.12; Dionna Gooden, Mount Zion, 46.51. Pole vault: Ashlee Newsome, Ola, 9-0; Roxie Carberry, Mount Zion, 8-0.
Boys - 400 relay: Jonesboro 43.02 (second). 400: Steven Palmer, Stockbridge, 50.09; Quartterrio Morgan, Mount Zion, 50.53. 110 hurdles: Chris Austin, Dutchtown, 14.76 (first). 800: Aaron Coleman, Stockbridge, 1:58.7 (first). 300 hurdles: Taurean Ferguson, Jonesboro, 39.72. 3,200: Cameron Reeves, Mount Zion, 10:38.17; Roderick Byars, Stockbridge, 10:48.17.