Northeast Georgia's top track and field athletes made an impression during the first day of the GHSA state championships at sites around the state on Thursday.
As expected, Gainesville High pole vault standout Hunter Mallard led the way. The senior won his second state crown with a vault of 16-0 at the Class AAAAAA-AAAAA championships in Carrollton.
Also in Carrollton, Buford's Berkley Berrett finished second in the girls Class AAAAA pole vault, clearing 9-6. The Lady Wolves enjoyed a strong opening day of the three-day event, as Kimberly Harris also finished second in the long jump (18-8), Erin Marsh took fifth in the high jump (5-2) and Zikaya Wright finished sixth in the discus (113-7). After seven events, Buford's girls are second in the standings, with several more competitions to come.
Also in Carrollton, Gainesville's Tija Blackwell took fourth in the high jump (5-4), while Wolves standout Dontarius Bailey was third in the high jump (6-2). Also in Carrollton, Flowery Branch's Erika Plummer took fourth in the girls 1,600 (5:08.73), while Johnson's Isaiah Del Campbel was sixth in the pole vault (12-6) and Issac Hernandez was seventh in the 1,600 (4:30.29).
Meanwhile, in the Class AAA, AA and A Public championships in Albany, North Hall also impressed, including two silver medals. Mac Bennett finished second in the shot put (51-2.5), while teammate Tommy Johnston ran his way to second in the 1,600 (4:16.64). David Seid also finished fifth in the pole vault (12-6), just in front of Jackson County's Seth Caylor (12-6).
Dawson County's Jacob Poston also took third in the AAA 1,600 (4:21.20), and East Jackson's Chase Kennedy was fourth (4:27.84). Tigers standout Carlos Keller also finished eighth in the high jump (6-0). Union County's Zoe Sanchez also took seventh in the 3,200 (12:23.34) in Class AAA.
In Class AA, Banks County's Bryce Bennett leaped his way to third in the long jump (22-1), and teammate Seth Ledford took sixth in the 1,600 (4:45.68). Rabun County's finished just in front in fifth (4:38.34).
Commerce's boys and girls also performed admirably in Albany, as Will Thomas took fourth in the discus (125-7) and teammate Easley Smith finished seventh in the event (120-4). Greyson Burke also finished third in the pole vault (11-6), and Tucker Flint took fourth (11-0). Meanwhile, Lady Tigers athletes Kate Massey and Brittany Webb finished second and third, respectively, in the 1,600 (13:03.61 and 13:24.03).
And, in the Class AAAA finals in Rome, Chestatee's Lindsey Grater took fourth in the 3,200 meters (11:59.49).
Competition will resume on Friday at three venues: Classes AAAAAA and AAAAA at Carollton; Classes AAAAAA, AAAA, and A Private at Rome; and Classes AAA, AA and A Public in Albany. A number of area athletes also qualified for sprint event finals on Thursday in Rome, for complete results, click here.