HOSCHTON - While the usual suspects are lurking within striking distance in the boys and girls team standings of the 2008 Gwinnett County Track and Field Championship, a couple of upstarts made a statement in the field events Saturday.
Grayson's boys climbed 13 places from their final standing last year with 34 points and Peachtree Ridge's girls rose 10 spots with 42.16 points in taking the first day lead in their respective divisions at Mill Creek Community Stadium.
Of course, six-time defending girls champion Collins Hill and five-time defending boys champ Brookwood are each poised to challenge for another title.
The Eagles currently stand tied with Brookwood for fifth with 20.5 points, but have many top qualifiers for Monday's running event finals. The same goes for the Bronco boys, who are in third place with 24 points and trail the Rams by just 10 points and second-place Parkview by just six.
Still, the two leaders have plenty to feel good about Saturday.
"We finished fourth last year, which was our best finish," Peachtree Ridge coach Tomy Sitton said.
"So, we're hoping to finish in the top two or three (this year), and we have a chance. But we'll have to do well in the relays and sprints (Monday)."
The Lions put themselves in position for their best county meet finish ever after a strong day in the field events, especially the long jump, in which the tandem of Erika Waters (16-5.50) and Raven Parrish (16-2.75) took first- and second-place respectively.
In all, the Lions scored points in every field event except the pole vault, including multiple top-eight finishes by Waters and Parrish (in the long jump and triple jump) and Mithesia Bryant (shot put and discus throw).
There were also several strong individual efforts among the girls Saturday, including Norcross' Tiffany Clarke, who won the triple jump (36-9.50) and finished second in the shot put (39-1.50) and fourth in the high jump (5-0).
But perhaps the biggest day came from a familiar source - Dacula's Eve Machovec, who swept the throwing events with titles in the shot put (43-5) and discus, in which she broke her own meet record with a toss of 139-5.
"Winning is not everything to me," said Machovec, who took home her fourth county title in the discus and third in the shot put.
"I just want to do my best, and I set goals to try to reach. I really wanted to throw 150 (feet in the discus), but ... it just wasn't my day (to do it). I got close enough to my shot goal (of 45 feet)."
Like the Peachtree Ridge girls, the Grayson boys grabbed huge chunks of points in the field events, mostly behind Nabil Mubarak, who won both the shot put (52-3) and discus (144-9).
"Anytime you can take first with one guy in two events, that's pretty good," Grayson coach John McCormick said. "Like any team, we'd like to place as high as we can. Hopefully between (Mubarak) and our distance (runners), we can do that. I'd like to see us finish somewhere in the top five."
The Rams also got a second-place finish from Kirubel Erassa in the only running event of the day, the 1,600-meter run, plus other scoring finishes from Christopher Hill (sixth, pole vault), Marcellus Fenner (seventh, long jump) and Jacob Mwinami (eighth, discus).
Among the other highlights from the boys competition Saturday came from Berkmar's Hasheem Halim.
The senior won the triple jump with a leap of 48-3, which not only broke the meet and stadium record or 46-7 set by South Gwinnett's Larry Cooper two years ago, but came within just 61/2 inches of the all-time county record set by a former Patriot, Adrian Borders, in 2000.