HOSCHTON - Standing beside the high jump mat, Stephen Harris sported a wide grin.
The former Tennessee All-American decathlete watched his school record in the high jump disappear Friday afternoon at Mill Creek, but he didn't mind a bit.
Harris, now a Norcross coach, played a major role as Malcolm Davis, the sophomore phenom who came from nowhere to win the Region 7-AAAAA title, chased the mark.
Davis cleared 6 feet, 10 inches and made a charge at the all-time county record of 7-0, set in 1992 by Brookwood's Justin Zack. After narrow misses on his first two tries at 7-0, he slipped on his final attempt.
"I think I would have gotten (7-0) if I hadn't slid," Davis said.
Mill Creek dominated the field events for an early lead going into Monday's running finals, but Norcross was right behind led by region champions Davis and Darryl Marlow.
Marlow won the triple jump with a leap of 44-7, edging runner-up and teammate Arius Wright (41-9) with his final attempt. Marlow also qualified for state with a second-place finish in the long jump (22-33/4).
But the highlight was Davis, who attracted the attention of the entire stadium as the high jump bar elevated. It seemed unlikely that he would be in that role, considering it's his first year of track and he didn't pick up the high jump until midseason.
He hit 6-6 in practice, but his previous best in a meet was 6-2.
"Over meets, he was perfecting it and perfecting it and perfecting it," said Harris, whose all-time best is 7-1, but his Norcross record stood at 6-9. "He was always at 6-2 in meets. He just couldn't find the rhythm and today was a perfect day to find it."
The 5-foot-11 Davis plays basketball, but gave track a shot this season. An early-season back injury kept him from trying the high jump, but one day in practice he asked to attempt it. He hit 6-4 on his first jump, showing natural ability that put him into the meet rotation.
"I'm a sophomore and I'm able to dunk (a basketball), so I figured I might be able to do the high jump," Davis said.
He just didn't know how well, until Friday.
The clearance of 6-10 and the near-misses as 7-0 upped his ambition for the upcoming state meet in Jefferson.
"If I practice a little bit more, I can get 7-2," he said.
"At state, based on his warm-ups and how he feels, we'll have to look at it and maybe change some things," Harris said. "Hopefully he can be a little more fresh for his attempts at 7 feet."
Most of the other top performances came from Mill Creek, which took the opening day lead with 69 points - just ahead of Norcross' 53.5 and Peachtree Ridge's 51.
Michael Kopanski (15-0) and Aaron Chamblee (14-6) dominated the pole vault, giving Mill Creek a sweep of the event's state qualifying spots. The same happened in the shot put, where Hawk football standouts Ryan Robinson (58-03/4) and Ramael Wilson (55-11/4) finished 1-2.
Kevin Darley won the discus for the hosts with a toss of 155-10, and Peachtree Ridge's Carson Sears (138-10) took the second spot. Though it didn't count toward the team score, Mill Creek's Alex Reed threw 15-73/4 in the wheelchair shot put.
The day's only running final, the 1,600-meter run, had a little bit of drama.
Peachtree Ridge's Robert Fenesterer led throughout by a stride over Collins Hill's Joe Sokohl, but South Forsyth's Gator Jackson made a late charge on the final 100 meters. Jackson snuck past the two Gwinnett runners for first place, then Fenesterer and Sokohl got tangled up.
Sokohl fell and Fenesterer barely stayed up, but maintained his balance for a second-place time of 4 minutes, 26.98 seconds. Sokohl finished in 4:31.31.
Region 7-AAAAA Boys Championships
At Mill Creek High School
1. Mill Creek, 69
2. Norcross, 53.5
3. Peachtree Ridge, 51
4. North Forsyth, 27.5
5. Collins Hill, 22
6. Chattahoochee, 21
7. South Forsyth, 15
8. North Gwinnett, 11
9. Duluth, 3
1. Michael Kopanski, Mill Creek, 15-0
2. Aaron Chamblee, Mill Creek, 14-6
3. Boom Nuanual, North Gwinnett, 13-6
4. Kyle Thornton, Chattahoochee, 12-6
5. Kegan Thurman, North Forsyth, 12-6
6. Douglass Macgill, Norcross, 11-6
7. Dillon Thomas, North Forsyth, 11-6
8. Logan Rhea, Norcross, 11-6
1. Courtland Walls, Chattahoochee, 22-5
2. Darryl Marlow, Norcross, 22-33/4
3. Jake Hodge, Mill Creek, 20-83/4
4. Stephen Rosado, North Gwinnett, 20-71/2
5. Bradley Roby, Peachtree Ridge, 20-41/4
6. Jordan Totten, North Forsyth, 20-33/4
7. Reed Cassidy, Collins Hill, 20-31/2
8. Deejay Shane, Norcross, 20-21/4
Shot put, wheelchair
1. Alex Reed, Mill Creek, 15-73/4
1. Ryan Robinson, Mill Creek, 58-03/4
2. Ramael Wilson, Mill Creek, 55-11/4
3. Connor Orr, Peachtree Ridge, 53-61/2
4. Max Garcia, Norcross, 50-93/4
5. Carson Sears, Peachtree Ridge, 48-11/2
6. Ethan Holland, North Forsyth, 46-31/2
7. Daniel Ruiz, Collins Hill, 45-4
8. Austin Shadoan, Chattahoochee, 42-93/4
1. Darryl Marlow, Norcross, 44-7
2. Arius Wright, Norcross, 41-9
3. Jake Hodge, Mill Creek, 41-4
4. Rajah Ghany, Peachtree Ridge, 40-10
5. Spencer Sheats, Mill Creek, 40-10
6. Tyrell Walker, Duluth, 39-10
7. Andrew Wunder, North Forsyth, 39-1
8. Stephon Mayo, Chattahoochee, 38-9
1. Kevin Darley, Mill Creek, 155-10
2. Carson Sears, Peachtree Ridge, 138-10
3. Caleb Tarver, Mill Creek, 137-9
4. Jake Ottoson, Collins Hill, 134-6
5. Connor Orr, Peachtree Ridge, 123-8
6. Matt Mills, Chattahoochee, 123-1
7. Max Garcia, Norcross, 120-6
8. Shane Gilmore, Chattahoochee, 120-4
1. Malcolm Davis, Norcross, 6-10
2. Cameron Zeman, North Forsyth, 6-8
3. Brandon Stanley, Peachtree Ridge, 6-2
3. Kegan Thurman, North Forsyth, 6-2
5. Josh Green, Collins Hill, 6-0
5. Darnell Jones, Peachtree Ridge, 6-0
7. Stevie Berhannon, Norcross, 5-10
7. Erik McGee, Collins Hill, 5-10
1. Gator Jackson, South Forsyth, 4:25.44
2. Robert Fensterer, Peachtree Ridge, 4:26.98
3. Joe Sokohl, Collins Hill, 4:31.31
4. Dylan Walker, South Forsyth, 4:35.22
5. Daniel Winters, Norcross, 4:36.23
6. Niall Longobardi, Peachtree Ridge, 4:36.24
7. Carlos Galindo, Collins Hill, 4:37.17
8. Austin Boetje, Mill Creek, 4:38.06
Note: Top two in each event qualify for state