DAWSONVILLE -- Buford boys coach David Snell knew things would come down to the last race Thursday at the Region 7-AAA track-and-field championships.
It certainly did that. The Wolves and North Hall traded the team lead four times in a four-event span. In the end, however, White County nearly stole the show.
The Buford 4x400 relay team's second-place finish in the final event of the meet secured a 148.5-141 win over White County, whose No. 1 team won the event to go with a fourth-place finish from its No. 2 team to pass the Trojans for second.
It was the second straight region title for the Wolves.
"This a very competitive region and we knew it would be close the whole way," Snell said. "North Hall had a big day in the field events (Wednesday) but we knew we still had a chance with our sprint guys. We figured it would go to the end. We were able to hang on."
Justin McCray had a huge d ay for the Wolves helping to accumulate 28 points. The senior won the 110- and 300-meter hurdle events and helped anchor the 4x400 relay team.
""Justin loves to compete and he had a great meet for us," Snell said.
McCray said he had some extra motivation coming into the meet. In the 300 he used a late kick to hold off teammate Brandon Mangram and White County's Tucker Cook.
"I lost the 300 last year to Tucker and I didn't want to lose this time," he said. "I was really focused on the hurdle events. I was behind but that's the way I like. I try to wait until I see the others tire out and then that's when I go. It worked out."
Also having a solid day for Buford was Evyn Cooper, who won the took duo of the 100- and 200-meter runs.
North Hall still had the lead going into the 110-hurdles but McCray's win gave the Wolves their first lead. North Hall reclaimed the lead after the 800-meter run when Quintin Miles and Bryce Schuebert finished 1-2 in a race they dominated.
Buford retook the lead for good on Cooper's win in the 200 but North Hall and White County edged closer after the 3200. The Trojans got 18 points when Zack Hill and Miles finished 1-2 and the Warriors got closer on the strength of senior Caleb Stephenson, who won the 400-meter and finished in the 200.
Stephenson, who finished second last year in the 400, used a late kick to beat Buford freshman phenom Khalil Anderson.
"I knew he was the guy to beat and I just tried to stay with him early," Stephenson said. "The last 200 meters I just kicked it and he wasn't able to answer it. It feels great to finally (win the region title). I've been building to this."
Stephenson anchored the Warriors' winning 4x400 team but the Buford No. 1 team finished second to hang on at the end for the team title.
Final team results:
1 Buford 148.5
2 White County 141
3 North Hall 139
4 Banks County 61
5 West Hall 54
6 East Hall 36
7 Dawson County 35
8 Fannin County 9.50
1. Buford '1' 42.98
2 White Co. '1'
3. East Hall '1'
4. Buford '2'
1. Caleb Stephenson, White Co., 50.22
2. Khalil Anderson, Buford
3. Chee Anyanwu, Buford
4. Deandre Peoples, West Hall
1. Evyn Cooper, Buford, 11.11
2. Xavier Gantt, Buford
3. Jacques Ash, East Hall
4. Will Ledford, Banks Co.
110-meter high hurdles
1. Justin McCray, Buford, 15.36
2. Dmitry Hunter, East Hall
3. Isaac Seid, North Hall
4. Jacob Tanner, White Co.
1. Quintin Miles, North Hall, 2:00.45
2. Bryce Schuebert, North Hall
3. Andrew Elliott, Banks Co.
4. Beau Rush, Banks Co.
1. Evyn Cooper, Buford, 22.31
2. Caleb Stephenson, White Co.
3. Chee Anyanwu, Buford
4. Jacques Ash, East Hall
300 intermediate hurdles
1. Justin McCray, Buford, 41.00
2. Brandon Mangram, Buford
3. Tucker Cook, White Co.
4. Isaac Seid, North Hall
1. Zack Hill, North Hall, 9:45.09
2. Quintin Miles, North Hall
3. Austin Thompson, White County
4. Dylan Forester, Dawson County
1. White County '1', 3:28.20
2. Buford '1'
3. West Hall '1'
4. White County '2'