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Vann makes most of final jump to win state title

JEFFERSON - When the pressure was on, Julian Vann never flinched. He actually laughed.

The Parkview triple jumper scratched on three of his first five attempts at the Class AAAAA boys track and field state championships.

When Wheeler's Jamal Tiller cleared 46 feet, 71/2 inches to move ahead of Vann's mark of 45-8, that left the junior with one last attempt.

"I started laughing when they said 46," Vann said. "I said to myself I wasn't going to lose."

He was right.

Vann cleared 47-11/4 to claim the the state championship after taking third place last season.

"He pulled it out. That's just great. That's great for Julian," Parkview coach Mark Whitley said.

Vann, who won county and region titles in the triple jump, will have the opportunity to add to his resume when he runs in the 100 and 400-meter relay today.

"I just hope we can win it all as a team," Vann said. "I think we've got a good shot at it."

Taron Squires added to Parkview's impressive day with a third-place finish in the long jump (23-111/4) and a fifth-place finish in the high jump (6-6).

Brian Detweiler was second in the 1,600 (4:19.19), Glenn Branscomb took third in the pole vault (13-6) and Joseph McMurray was fourth in the discus (147-3) to give the Panthers six state placers on day one.

Special K delivers

When Kirubel Erassa failed to qualify for the 3,200 at last week's Region 8-AAAAA championship, it gave the defending state champ motivation.

The Grayson junior was determined to win the state title in the 1,600 and he came through on Thursday at the boys track and field championship.

"It feels great, but my heart is still broken from the 3,200," Erassa said. "Today was just win it. Not for time, but just win the race."

Erassa finished with a time of 4:17.36 to claim the championship and win best performance trophy, but it wasn't easy.

"My strategy was to stay close the first lap and go all out the last three," Erassa said. "I tried, but they were still there with me."

It wasn't until the last 250 meters that Erassa began to break away from a pack of four to win the title.

Parkview's Brian Detweiler was second (4:19.19) and Peachtree Ridge's Robert Fensterer was eighth (4:25.91).

Erassa will have to watch the today's 3,200 from the stands, but still has another chance next year to reclaim his title.

"I'll never forget that 3,200," Erassa said. "Even if I make the Olympics, I'll never forget it. I'll have that pain for a long time. I'll be back next year."

Hawks' Kopanski wins pole vault title

In just five years of existence, Mill Creek has established itself as one of the top pole vaulting programs in the state.

The Hawks' Michael Kopanski won the Class AAAAA title on Thursday, becoming the third Mill Creek vaulter to win the title in four years.

"I'm really happy that I won," Kopanski said. "I'm a little disappointed I didn't go as high as I wanted."

Kopanski won the championship with a vault of 14 feet, 6 inches. His teammate Aaron Chamblee took second with the same height, but needed more attempts to clear it.

"That's what we wanted to do all year," Mill Creek coach Rik Moore said. "Was finish one-two."

Kopanski, who won county and region titles this season as a junior, joins Cameron Cheek as the Hawks' only other state champ. Cheek won titles in 2006 and 2007.

"Hopefully, he won't be the last," said Moore, who has coached nine state champs in 17 years.

"It's great. I feel like I've kept the legacy going," Kopanski said.

Parkview's Branscomb was third (13-6) and Grayson's Josh Kimble (12-6) was seventh.