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Excitement builds as region track meets start

Jeff Hurndon Photography
Union Grove distance runner Rayna Green is a favorite in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meters at the Region 3-AAAA championships.

Jeff Hurndon Photography Union Grove distance runner Rayna Green is a favorite in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meters at the Region 3-AAAA championships.

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

After finishing runner-up at last season's Region 4-AAA meet, Eagle's Landing distance runner Zack Sims is the favorite when the championships begin this week.

Sims, a Georgia signee, has been one of the top 1,600 and 3,200-meters runner in the state this season.

"I'm really excited about the meet," Sims said. "Our training has been going great. I feel really fast. I'm excited."

The feeling that Sims had can be expressed by track and field athletes from across the Southern Crescent as region championship start this weekend and run through early next week. The top two finishers in each event advance to the state meet.

This season, the boys will hold their state meet in all five classes on May 5-7 at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson, while the girls meet will be May 12-14 at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany.

Several individuals from the area are expected to qualify for their respective classification.

Union Grove is expected to battle Jones County and Starr's Mill on the boys' side while the Lady Wolverines along with Fayette County will be in a tight region champion chase with Starr's Mill.

"With 14 teams in the region, everyone is good at something," Union Grove coach Eric Daugherty said. "The most complete team is going to pull off a close victory."

The Region 4-AAAA championship could resemble last month's Clayton County champion with Fulton County schools Tri-Cities, Creekside and Banneker in the mix. Lovejoy won the boys title by amassing over 200 points, but coach Dwight Callaway sees a tighter region race.

Callaway, in his first season at Lovejoy, says that the field events will likely decide the champion.

"The points will be split on the track," Callaway said. "I think the there will be a lot of good times turned in by all the runners."

Region Outlooks

Region 2-AAAAA

Location: Langston Hughes High

Dates: Saturday and Monday

What to look for: Westlake has joined power Stephenson to form a solid region. Luella is expected to get some qualifiers, especially in the distance events.

Region 4-AAAA

Location: Twelve Oaks Stadium

Dates: Monday and Tuesday

What to look for: The 11-team region is composed mostly of Clayton County schools. Jonesboro sophomore S'Kayia Hampton could sweep the 100 and 200 events.

Region 3-AAAA

Location: Starr's Mill High

Dates: Monday and Tuesday

What to look for: Union Grove has several athletes who are expected to qualify for the state meet including Jordan Moore, Dacosta Smith and Chase Ames on the boys' side. On the girls' side, Rayna Green, Briana Vaughn and Alex Braxton are expected to compete for state spots.

Region 4-AAA

Location: Southern Crescent Stadium

Dates: Saturday and Monday

What to look for: Drew will be on their home track and expected to compete well in the sprint events with Jadarius West. Eagle's Landing's Zack Sims is expected to dominate in the distance while Mia Adams, also of Eagle's Landing, should do well in the long and triple jump.