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New track format to get first test

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro sprinter S’kayia Hampton (right) talks with coach Tangee Hardnett after a recent practice. Hampton is considered one of the favorites at the Class AAAA meet in the 100 and 200-meters.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro sprinter S’kayia Hampton (right) talks with coach Tangee Hardnett after a recent practice. Hampton is considered one of the favorites at the Class AAAA meet in the 100 and 200-meters.

If the old Georgia High School Association track and field format was in place this season, Jonesboro hurdler Taurean Ferguson would already have been set for the upcoming state meet in Jefferson.

But the old format, which only qualified the top two finishers at region for the state, would not have allowed some other top participants to make the meet. Athletes from stronger regions sometimes were denied the opportunity at state.

The new GHSA format allows for the top four finishers in each region to make the Sectionals with the opportunity to advance to the state meet.

“I think this is a great way to do it,” said Ferguson, who has one of the top hurdler times in the state. “It is just one more meet added to the season.”

Ferguson’s enthusiasm is shared by most in the track community.

“This has been a long time coming,” Union Grove coach Eric Daugherty said. “It is something good for the state.”

The format: The top four finishers in each region event advanced to the Sectionals. From there, the top six in running events and top eight in field advance to state. The top eight in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters advance from Sectional.

Advantages: The addition of a Sectional meet will make the state meet even stronger because all the top participants will have the opportunity to advance. Participants get another opportunity get a personal-best time, throw or jump.

Disadvantages: Very short time frame to heal any nagging injuries before state meet. A one-day format could be a strain on an athlete that competes in multiple events.

What they are saying

“We have had some seasons when some good athletes were left at home because only the top two could advance to state. This was long needed and I’m totally for it. Every athlete that is suppose to make state will.”

Union Grove coach Eric Daugherty

“This adds an extra element to the state meet. It’s a good ideal. This is the first part of making the state meet. This puts us in line to what other states are doing. For those athletes that are going to compete on the next level, this gives them a taste of what to expect.”

Eagle’s Landing coach Claud Spinks

“Nothing has really changed as far as how I will prepare. I like this new format because it adds more competition. It is another chance to drop some time.”

Jonesboro hurdler Taurean Ferguson

“Because it is new, I’m going to sit back and wait to see how it works. I think the intent is to get rid of some of the slower times that have gone to state. It gives kids from the stronger regions a chance.”

Drew coach James Davis