High school track and field season is well underway in Cherokee County, and most girls teams expect to fare well in the running events this season.
Two years ago, River Ridge won the region 7AA championship, then just missed out on a 7AAAA title last year by finishing second. This season, the Lady Knights will look to continue competing at a high level.
“We have a great group of veterans coming back to lead our program,” coach Barry Lakes said. “We are going to be very strong in sprints and distances, and pretty good in jumping and throwing events.”
River Ridge will feature juniors Dennisah Francis and Chidi Ojukwu in the short sprints, along with Morgan Bone and Shabree Frett. Merideth Kunsman will be counted on in the shot put and discus events.
In Region 7AAAAA, Sequoyah will field a young team, while Creekview will look to break school records.
Despite a young team that consists of five seniors, Sequoyah coach Lorri Little has several sectional and state qualifiers on her squad.
Senior Katrice Tolbert was first in the county and a sectional qualifier in the 100-meter dash last season. Sophomore Aleah Johnson will look to qualify for state again in the 800, while fellow sophomore Tori Gregg will look to qualify for the 400.
In the throwing and jumping events, senior Cara Wallace returns and looks to qualify again for shot put and discus, and juniors Alexa Johnson and Kennedy Williams will look to improve in pole vaulting.
Creekview is attempting to continue its success this season by breaking school records and finishing in the top three in both county and region.
The Lady Grizzlies will have a plethora of strengths, including the endurance and distance sprints, relays, and high jump. Runners Lera McNamara and Rachael Boulineau will look to score points in distance, while Marissa Rink will compete in the 400 and 800.
Coach Nathan Cline’s goal is to have a least two individuals and one relay team go to the state meet. His best chance will be Camille Fahrnbauer, who is capable of winning a Class AAAAA state title in the high jump.
In Region 5AAAAAA, Cherokee, Woodstock and Etowah will all vie for the region championship.
Cherokee will be strong in the short and distance sprints, as well in the shot and discus. Caitlyn Farrell will run in the 400, 800 and 1,600 this spring, while Erica Harris and Katy Stamey will each run in the 100 and 200 dashes. In the field events for the Lady Warriors will be Erin Reece is the shot put and Alexa Gualtieri in the discus.
Despite some key losses from last year, Woodstock still has several county and region champion candidates.
Arielle Hunter is poised to defend her county and region titles in the 200 and 400, while Kennedy Whiting, who was a region runner-up in the 100, will also be counted upon for points in sprints this year. The distance events will be led by state qualifier Alexandra Melehan, who was also an all-state cross country runner this past fall. Amanda Buckles was a finalist last year in the hurdles and will also look to contend for a county and region titles.
Hannah Franzt and Hannah Braxton will be counted on to score points for Woodstock in the field events. Frantz will anchor the long and triple jumps, while Braxton will focus on the high jump.
Like Woodstock, Etowah expects to compete for a region championship this season.
Leena Morris is in line to be the team’s top point-scorer this season. Morris finished fourth in the state at the shot put last season and is expected to contend again. Kingsley Green is also expected to have a big year in the hurdles, along with Savannah Smith in the 800.