By Derrick Mahone
Riverdale coach Dwight Callaway gave his team a much-deserved day off Wednesday as he attended to some yard work.
But it will be back to business today for the Raiders as they head to Jefferson to compete in the Class AAAAA track and field championships. The Raiders have six individuals competing in eight events, and both the 400- and 1,600-meters relay teams in contention.
Callaway calls this his best team since the Raiders finished as runner-up in Class AAAA, during the 2007 season.
"This team is twice as strong as they were," Callaway said. "We have been strong in the field events. I think we are capable of winning it, if everybody does their job. I think we can produce around 36 points, and 36-40 should be enough to win it."
Riverdale is hoping to be the second Southern Crescent team to win a state title. Mount Zion won the Class AAAA title in 2000.
Individually, hurdler Sylvester Baisden has the top time of all classes heading to Jefferson. The Grambling State signee had a time of 13.99 at the Clayton County Championships in March.
Lavelle Westbrooks is seeded No. 2 in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump. DeAndre McBride is expected to do well in the 100 and 200 events.
"The biggest thing for us this year is that we had 30-plus athletes out for track this season," Callaway said. "The competition for us started in practice. Many of our seniors were freshmen on the team when we finished second in the state in 2007."
Callaway said that senior leadership is what has carried them to the county and region championships. The Raiders will be going for the sweep when the action starts at Memorial Stadium. He said that Tony Warren and Westbrooks have been vocal leaders for the team.
"They have held these guys together," Callaway said. "They have made these guys accountable for their performances and actions."
Also in Class AAAAA, Waymon Storey will be in hunt for the 100 and 200 titles. He has the fastest time in the state this season in the 200 event. The Georgia signee is seeded second in the 100, behind Brookwood's Keenan Harp.
"I'm excited about the meet," Storey said. "My starts are pretty good, so I'm going up there to see what happens. I think I can go 10.4 (seconds) or 10.3 in the 100. I'm comfortable at where my starts are now. It has been one of my goals to win a state title."
Morrow could finish high if Storey can hit his marks and Ayrian Evans can score some points. The team's 1,600 relay team has the top seed in their classification.
"I don't feel any pressure because I know what I can do," Storey said. "I'm looking forward to a fun atmosphere in Jefferson and a fun weekend."
Eagle's Landing Christian Academy senior Luke Baker will be going for the distance runners' triple crown. He won the Class A cross country championship last November. Now, he has to get the 1,600 and 3,200 to complete the sweep.
Baker is the defending champion in the 3,200 and is seeded No. 2 in the event this season behind Colin Sishoff of Athens Christian by six seconds.
Baker, a Georgia signee, is seeded first in the 1,600 by seven seconds over Cameron Thornton of Whitefield Academy.