JEFFERSON -- Buford sprinters were looking for a big day Saturday in the track finals of the Georgia Olympics at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.
They didn't get all they wanted, but it was good enough to satisfy themselves on the state's biggest stage.
The group of Brandon Mangram, Xavier Gantt, Khalil Anderson, and Evyn Cooper got things off to a fast start for Buford and Class AAA with a thrilling gold-medal win in the 4x100 relay, coming from behind to nip Central Carroll by 5/100ths of a second to claim the Wolves' first-ever 4x100 state title.
"This was huge for us," said Cooper, who was able to chase down the Central Carroll runner over the final 50 meters for the victory. "No one thought Buford could win this. But we felt we could.
"I knew I had him with 30 meters left. When I crossed the line I just felt excited for the whole team. We worked real hard to get here."
The race as a whole got off to a slow start despite what many in the stands thought was a race that had state-record potential with Elbert County as the favorite.
"I didn't want to scratch and I think all the guys at the start were feeling that a little," said Mangram, who ran the first leg.
Gantt took the baton for the second leg and was able to stay within striking distance for Anderson. Anderson, a freshman, said he felt he had to make up ground to give them a shot.
"I wasn't really supposed to be here so I just gave it all I had. I was able to get us a little closer for Evyn. I knew he was going to pull it out when I saw him take off," Anderson said.
"We had a great warm-up and we felt fast and confident," Gantt said. "It feels great to be able to pull this out. Huge."
Elbert County, which came in with a 41.94 prelim time, finished fourth.
Anderson, however, had little time to rest taking part in the next event, the 40o-meter, and finished eighth.
Gantt finished fifth in the 100-meter with an 11.01 time. The race was slowed down at the start after Elijah Ross of Central Carroll, one of the race favorites, jumped the start and was disqualified on the first try.
Meanwhile, Jackson County's Todd Woodring held on for second in the Class AAA 400-meter with a time of 48.6, which was more than a tenth-of-a-second faster than his qualifying time.
Quintaveon Poole of Washington County posted a 47.30 to win the race, good for a top 10 national time.
For Woodring, a junior, it was the end of a long journey over the past year. He failed to qualify for state last year.
"I had a thyroid issue (last year) and lost a lot of weight and strength," Woodring said. "I just hit the weight room and worked on technique this year. I was hoping for maybe a top three but to get second is just unbelievable.
"I had a great start and a good finish. I'm very pleased. I don't think anyone could've beaten Poole so I'll take second."
Woodring later finished seventh in the 200-meter run.
Caleb Stephenson of White County finished fifth in the 400-meter race. Known for his late kicks, Stephenson just couldn't find the right gear. He was dead last going into the final turn.
"I waited too late to kick. Ran out of time," Stephenson said.
Stephenson's fifth-place showing moved the Warriors into the top 10 with 14 points at that time.
The 400-meter races were perhaps the most exciting of the day as three of the seven races went to a photo-finish and two others were within 5/100ths of a second between first and second.
Commerce's Jose Rodriguez finished second in the Class A Public 800-meter run with a 2:06.21 time. Rodriquez was in sixth place after the first lap but worked his way through the pack and then outran Jarvis Turner of Central-Talbotton to the line over the final 30 meters to beat him by 6/10ths of a second. Brian Chandler finished seventh for Commerce in the race.
That moved the Tigers into fifth-place in the team standings at that time with 33 points.
Rabun County's Charlie Woerner finished third in a fast Class AA 110-hurdles race. The junior finished in a time of 14.79, bettering his qualifying time. But, Lawrence Austin of Lamar County ran the fastest 110 time in Class AA this season with a 14.39 to win the race. Dalton Hill of Jefferson finished seventh.
In the 300-hurdles, Jefferson's Dalton Hill finished third with a time of 39.83. Hill was in second coming down the stretch but was overtaken in final 5 meters by Trey Graham of Fitzgerald. Austin of Lamar County added his second title of the day winning the race in a time of 38.12, the top time in AA this season.
McCray of Buford took third in the 300-hurdles in Class AAA. He finished with a 39.34 time and the six points put the Wolves into fifth place with 36 points, just ahead of fellow Region 7-AAA team North Hall, who finished with 30.
In the Class AAA 110-hurdles, Buford's McCray had a slow start but rallied to finish fourth with a 15.04 time. East Hall's Dmitry Hunter was eighth in 15.92.
In the Class AA 800-meter race, Jefferson's Tradd Porter finished seventh and his two points put the Dragons into third place in the team standings. The Dragons 4x400 relay team finished fifth and they finished in a fourth-place tie with Fitzgerald with 48 points in the final team standings.
The White County 4x400 relay team finished sixth but it wasn't enough to propel the Warriors into the top 10. They finished 12th with 16 points
In the Class A Public 4x100 meter relay, Commerce finished seventh.
Class A was where the action happened early as long-time state records were shattered with almost every race.
In the Class A Private 4x100, Our Lady of Mercy set a new classification record with a 41.88 winning time.
The second state record to fall on the day came in the Class A Private 100-meter. Christian Coleman from Our Lady of Mercy blistered the field with a 10.38 time, shattering the classification record that had stood for 29 years, previously held by Nelson Bennett of Lincoln County and Alfred Rawls of Wilcox County, who tied in the 1985 race with a 10.6 time.
Coleman would set a second individual state record in the 200-meter blowing away the field with a 21.10 time, which broke the old record held by LoRenzo Daniel of Wrens back in 1984.
Kenny Selmon of Pace Academy broke the Class A state record in the 110-hurdles with a 13.96 time. The old time of 14.23 was held by Eddie Johnson of Reidsville, set in 1986.
Selmon added a second gold medal and state record in the 300-hurdles with a 37.21 time, beating second place Stockton McGuire of landmark Christian by more than two seconds. The old record of 38.05 was held by Omega Calhoun of Lanier County, set in 1998.
Jeremy McDuffie of Shiloh did not set a Class AAAAAA record in the 100-hurdles, but his 13.83 winning time was the sixth-fastest high school time posted in the event this season, in any classification.