Lovejoy athletes Randy Anyanwu (left) and Preston Williams are set to compete in state track championships this weekend. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
LOVEJOY — This weekend, teams will meet in Jefferson for the Georgia High School Association state track and field finals. Among the participants will be Lovejoy High school with six individual entries and one relay team.
The amount of qualifying members was a bit surprising, even for head coach Dwight Callaway, who was expecting somewhat of a rebuilding year.
“Overall it’s been an interesting year, filled with ups and downs, but we came out with great performances,” Callaway said. “We had a lot of athletes graduate a year ago, so we needed a bunch of young guys to step up, and we were able to get great production from our veterans.”
Two of his top standouts on the team are also great players for the Lovejoy football team, in senior Randy Anyanwu and junior Preston Williams. Anyanwu, a linebacker who will be playing football at the University of Buffalo is one of the top discus throwers in Class AAAAAA. Williams, a junior receiver who is currently committed to the University of Tennessee, is a highly ranked long and triple jumper, as well as a member of the 4x100 relay race.
“Randy really stays on top of the field event guys, making sure they’re doing the right things on and off the track to be successful,” Callaway added. “As far as Preston goes, as someone who has coached a state champion jumper before, I feel like he’s the best I’ve ever coached. If he continues to progress correctly, he can be really special.”
Both Anyanwu and Williams said that if the opportunity presented itself in college they would be very interested in continuing their track careers. For now however, they are focused on the current goal of a state championship.
“When you’re at a regular meet there’s more room for error. That’s not the case in the state meet,” Williams said. “The main thing is just to go all out. You can’t think about what you’re doing — just have to go for it all.”
As members of both the track and football teams, both athletes participate in the conditioning programs of both sports — something they feel gives them a competitive advantage over the competition.
“I’m different from other discus throwers. I don’t have all of the technique yet, but I can make up for it in power,” Anyanwu said. “That comes as a result of the heavy lifting that football conditioning brings, so when I can get the technique where it needs to be that just makes me that much harder to beat.”
As the championships approach, Anyanwu and Williams are appearing to hit their strides at the right time as they have improved greatly over the last few weeks of the season. As far as their goals for the weekend, Anyanwu is shooting for a mark of at least 180 feet in the discus, while Williams set his goals for 25 feet in the long jump, 50 feet in the triple jump, and a team time of 40 seconds in the 4x100 relay.
The conclusion of the state meet will mark the end of the high school career of Anyanwu. With Williams in his junior season, however, he will return to the team next year.
And that fact has coach Callaway very optimistic about the program’s future.
“Randy will be a big loss, but besides him and another senior we have, the entire team will be back next year with Preston as our catalyst,” he said. “With him leading the way with his work ethic combined with the team we have returning, I have no doubt we’ll be in this same situation next year with even more competitors than the year before.”