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State track opens with 'excitement' from local participants

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Morrow juniors Ayrian Evans (left) and Adolphus Gray give the Mustangs a 1-2 punch in the upcoming Class AAAA track and field championship in the 400-meters event. Evans is seeded No. 1 for the event.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Morrow juniors Ayrian Evans (left) and Adolphus Gray give the Mustangs a 1-2 punch in the upcoming Class AAAA track and field championship in the 400-meters event. Evans is seeded No. 1 for the event.

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

Immediately after Ayrian Evans crossed the finish line during the 400-meters race during the Region 4-AAAA championship, he looked back to see how teammate Adolphus Gray finished.

Gray edged out Sidney Buchannon of Creekside for second place to earn a spot in the Class AAAA track and field championship. Evans greeted his teammate with a handshake.

"I'm very pleased that we went one and two for Morrow High in the event," Evans said. "We are both going to state. From what I was able to see of the finish, I knew he (Gray) had him."

Both juniors finished with personal best times. Evans had a time of 47.04 seconds and Gray had a time of 48.23 seconds. When qualifying begins Friday, Evans will be seeded No. 1 in the event in the AAAA meet. Gray has the fourth-fastest time going into the preliminaries, which start at 12:55 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.

The top eight finishers return Saturday for the finals. All field events will be held today starting at noon.

Evans time is the fastest this season in the state, according to ga.milesplit.com, a website that tracks track and field in Georgia.

"I'm looking forward to the state meet," Evans said.

Morrow assistant coach Victor Stokes was excited about seeing his runners sweep the event at region. He greeted them in the infield at Twelve Oaks Stadium with a smile and hug.

"These guys have worked hard all year, and they got it done," Stokes said. "They are the silent leaders on the team because they are juniors."

It was especially gratifying for Stokes to see Gray make state. He had been hampered this season by a slight hamstring injury.

"The last couple weeks before region, he has gotten healthy," Stokes said. "He has got his legs under him, and I'm so proud of him. This was great for the both of them."

Last season, Evans finished sixth in the 400 and he was a part of the Mustangs' 1,600 relay team that got disqualified in the preliminaries at state.

In all, there will be 41 participants in four classes during the three-day meet. The only running finals today will be the 1,600 in all classes.

Eagle's Landing senior Zack Sims has the top time among Class AAA runners. The Georgia signee won the Region 4-AAA championship with a time of four minutes, 20.85 seconds.

The 1,600 is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.