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Wednesday February 10th, 2016 3:20PM

STATE CHAMPS: Hoffman and Gearing defend titles, Seymour also claims gold

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
ALBANY -- If the crown fits -- keep it on.

Two defending state champions from northeast Georgia won their second straight titles, while another claimed her first on Thursday in the GHSA girls track and field championships in Albany.

North Hall's Gabrielle Hoffman defended her Class AAA pole vault gold, while teammate Harper Seymour won her first discus title. White County's Jenna Gearing also won her second straight Class AAA 3,200 race on a day when plenty of area athletes earned points for their teams on the first of the three-day meet.

Hoffman's rock-steady vault of 11-feet fended off Cartersville's Anna Hightower, who managed 10-6 despite clearing 12-1 in a meet earlier this season.

A senior, Hoffman's vault bettered her 2013 gold medal-winning performance of 10-0. And her Trojans career is not finished, as she also qualified for the Class AAA 100 hurdles championship race on Saturday.

By then, the Lady Trojans hope to have earned even more medals -- they already have two golds after Seymour's 119-9 heave in the Class AAA discus finale.

Seymour claimed her first championship by more than three feet over Cedar Grove's Daimer Gordon, who finished second with a throw of 116-1. Meanwhile, Dawson County's Savannah Haberkam also finished seventh in the event with a mark of 102-10. Seymour also placed eighth in the shot put with an effort of 34-8.

There was also plenty of northeast Georgia representation in the Class AAA 3,200 finals -- though none could hold a candle to Gearing, who blitzed the competition with a time of 11 minutes, 03.35 seconds -- defeating old rival Anna Gandolfo from Blessed Trinity (11:05.74). Gearing's second title was almost five seconds faster than last year's freshman campaign victory.

Also placing in the Class AAA 3,200 was Banks County's Makayla Hewell, who was fourth (11:31.36), and North Hall's Makayla Ellis, who was eighth (11:47.04).

Gearing will gun for double gold on Friday when she runs in the 1,600 finals.

Another defending champion from northeast Georgia got her weekend off to a strong start on Thursday, as West Hall's Maia Caldwell-Booker finished third in the Class AAA long jump and qualified with the fourth fastest preliminary time in the 100 meters.

Caldwell-Booker is the defending 100 champion in Class AAA and posted a 12.43-second time in the preliminary race. She also produced a leap of 17-6 to earn the bronze in the long jump.

Jefferson's Maggie Newman also finished third on Thursday, tossing the discus 102-11 in the Class AA finals, while teammate Abby Carson finished fifth in the Class AA pole vault with a mark of 9-0.

Also placing on Thursday were Chestatee's Kristin Moroz, who cleared 5-0 to finish in a four-way tie for fourth in Class AAAA high jump. Buford's Dominique Martin was also sixth in the Class AAA high jump, clearing 5-0. White County's Kailtlyn Gearing was eighth in the event (5-0).

Buford's Kiki Mincey also finished seventh in the shot put (35-0.5), while Chestatee's Sarah Beth English was eighth in the Class AAAA 3,200 (12:16.84).

North Hall is currently fifth in the Class AAA standings with 22 points, eight points behind leader Woodward Academy; White County is ninth with 11 points.

The meet will continue with more field and distance event finals on Friday, as well as preliminary sprint events.
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