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Clayton County will send 12 girls to state track meet for individual events

Forest Park junior Bria Matthews will compete in the long jump, triple jump and both relay teams this weekend at the state meet. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Forest Park junior Bria Matthews will compete in the long jump, triple jump and both relay teams this weekend at the state meet. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Girls Track and Field State Championships

When: Thursday-Saturday

Where: Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany

Admission: $7

State individual qualifiers: Lovejoy — Dominique Bridges (shot put), Toni Edwards (300 hurdles). Drew — Lakiah Sims (discus). Forest Park — Ashley Epps (400), Lauren Epps (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Krizma Goodson (long jump), Bria Matthews (long jump, triple jump), Imani Richards (high jump). Mundy’s Mill — Latesha Locker (400). Mount Zion — Imani Carmouche (high jump). Jonesboro — Cierra Fulton (high jump). North Clayton — Moena Battle (high jump).

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Forest Park freshman Lauren Epps qualified in the both hurdles events and relay teams for this weekend’s Class AAAAA meet in Albany. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

FOREST PARK — Imani Richards wasn’t pleased with her high jump performance at last week’s Class AAAAA Sectional meet, but the Forest Park senior gets another shot this weekend.

Richards jump of five-feet, two inches was good enough to qualify for the state championship starting Thursday at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany.

Overall, five track and field participants in seven individual events will represent the Panthers at the meet. The Panthers will also take both relay teams to the meet, which ends on Saturday.

“This is awesome,” Forest Park coach Paulette Ireland said. “I’m very pleased at our team.”

Richards, who will likely attend college on a track and field scholarship, is hopeful to improve on last year’s fourth place finish at state.

“I’m very excited with the chance to go back to state,” said the senior, who was also a member of the school’s semifinals basketball team. “I wasn’t as pleased with my performance at Sectionals, but at least I get another shot. I want to win it all, but a top two finish would definitely be pleasing to me.”

In addition to Richards, Bria Matthews will compete in the long jump, triple jump and both relays at the state meet. Freshman Lauren Epps qualified for the 100-meters hurdles and 300 hurdles and both relays while sister, Ashley, will run in the 400 event. Krizma Goodson will also do the long jump event.

Richards said her biggest problem at last Saturday’s Sectional meet at Starr’s Mill High was she wasn’t attacking the bar aggressively.

“I realize what the problem was, and I plan on correcting it,” Richards said. “I have to attack the bar.”

Ireland said some of her team’s problems were jitters.

“I think the girls were real nervous,” Ireland said. “Once we talked to them, they sort of calmed down. I think they will be fine at the state meet.”

Earlier this season, Forest Park won the Clayton County Championships and also captured the Region 4-AAAAA title.

The team is hoping to add a state title to their accomplishments this weekend.

“As long as we go with the right attitude, we should be OK,” Ireland said. “We have been focused on this meet, and I know everyone is really excited.”

Aside from the Epps sisters, Lovejoy’s Toni Edwards (300 hurdles) and Mundy’s Mill’s Latesha Locker (400) were the only other participants to make it to state in running events. Dominique Bridges of Lovejoy qualified for the Class AAAAAA shot put and Lakiah Sims of Drew will compete in the Class AAAAA discus.

Sims, a senior, was named the Clayton News Daily Girl’s Basketball Player of the Year, after leading the Titans to the state semifinals. She was also the Region 4-AAAAA player of the year after averaging a double-double for the region-champion Titans.

Imani Carmouche of Mount Zion will also compete in the Class AAAAA high jump while Cierra Fulton of Jonesboro and Moena Battle of North Clayton will compete in the Class AAAA high jump event.