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Track & Field: Girls' track team wins region championship
The win marks the team's fourth region title under Wildcats track coach Levi Sybert. Meanwhile, the boys' team placed in second behind host Lowndes.

Getting outstanding performances across the board, Richmond Hill’s girls’ track team won the Region 1-7A championship in dominating fashion as it finished with 267 points last Thursday to easily outdistance host Lowndes County.

It was the girls’ fourth region championship under Coach Levi Sybert who took over the program in 2010 with all of them coming in the last five years:  2019, 2021, 2022 and this year. There was no meet in 2020 due to COVID.

The boys, meanwhile, posted 158 points to finish second behind Lowndes. The Vikings had 192 as they were able to take advantage of Richmond Hill’s lack of sprinters. With the top four finishers advancing to Saturday’s sectional meet at Valdosta, only junior Billy Cunningham qualified as he finished third in the 100-meter dash. Fellow junior Santonio Rio was fourth in the 400.   

Richmond Hill has won five track and field region championships under Sybert’s guidance starting in 2017 before having the streak snapped last year.

“It’s been a very good season,” Sybert said of the girls’ success. “We’ve been very balanced on the team from the throws to the distance, to the sprints, to the hurdles. All 18 events are well covered this year.”

Richmond Hill failed to qualify a girl for the sectional meet in the long jump and the high jump. The boys did not qualify anyone in the shot put, the discus, the high jump, the 200, 110-meter hurdles and the 4 x 100 relay.

It should be noted that while it’s nice to win either as an individual or as a team, the most important thing is to qualify for the next step. The top four in the region advance to the sectional and the top eight in Saturday’s meet will move on to the state meet May 9-11 at Carrollton.

How his charges may fare in the sectional is unknown to Sybert.

“We haven’t seen any sectional times or performances yet that we’re going to be going up against,” Sybert said Tuesday prior to practice. “That information hasn’t been released but I do feel that just paying attention throughout the year we’re going to have a pretty good showing.

“I feel if we just get half our kids who made it to sectionals out (to state meet) we’re going to be doing well,” Sybert said. “I think the girls are stronger as a whole, to get more kids out than the boys.

“I know at least the distance kids---I’m in charge of that---they’re peaking really well right now. And, I know the girls' relays are coming together really, really good.”

Senior standout Jayla Lawrence, who has signed with Georgia Southern, won the 100-meters dash and the 300-meter hurdles while finishing second in the 200. She was also on the 4 x 100-meter relay team which finished first.

Other girls winners were junior Mmekom Inyang in the 100-meter hurdles and the shot put, freshman Kinley Gibson in the 200, freshman Julia Anastasio in the 1600 meters, senior Julia Wilson, who has also signed with Georgia Southern, in the 3200 along with the 4 x 200 and 4 x 800 relay teams.

Boys’ winners were Appalachian State signee Memphis Rich who doubled up in the 1600 and 3200 meters and sophomore Kendrick Joshua in the 300-meter hurdles.

Girls qualifiers:

100:  Inyang 3rd; 200:  Lawrence 2nd; 400:  Gibson 2nd; Kalyn Heileman 3rd; 800: Anastasio 2nd; Somaria Courtney 3rd; Jolee Mitchell, 4th; 1600:  Wilson, 3rd; Adeline Aithen, 4th; 3200:  Kyle Kitchens-Hayes 2nd; Aithen, 3rd; 100 hurdles: Selah Moore, 2nd; 300 hurdles:  Maleaha Pritchett 2nd; pole vault: Isabella Brown, 2nd; Chloe Morris, 3rd; triple jump: Emari Brown, 4th; shot put: Jada Brown, 2nd; Nyla McClain, 4th; discus: Brown, 2nd; 4 x 800 2nd.

Boys qualifiers:

100:  Billy Cunningham, 3rd; 400: Santonio Rio, 4th; 800:  Noah Sybert, 3rd; Rich, 4th; 1600: Sybert, 4th; 3200: Sybert, 2nd; Benjamin Hall, 3rd; 300 hurdles:  Timothy Alston, Jr., 4th; pole vault: Garrett McDade, 2nd; long jump:  Cunningham, 2nd; triple jump: Demetri Hinton, 2nd; ZaMeer Smith, 4th; 4 x 200 4th; 4 x 400 3rd; 4 x 800 2nd.


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