Numbers game
Strategy in play with team titles in balance

ALBANY - The second day of the girls state track and field championships usually turns a lot of coaches into mathematicians.

Several Gwinnett County coaches were left hoping their calculations came up with a winning formula for today's sprint event finals after the field events Friday at Hugh Mills Stadium.

Two in particular - Wesleyan in Class A and Collins Hill in Class AAAAA - have a good opportunity at a state team championship in their respective classifications heading into the sprint finals, which get under way today at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile others - like Brookwood in AAAAA and GAC in AA - will mainly watch, and hope for the best.

Wesleyan appeared to be in the best shape after increasing its lead Friday behind field athletes like Anne Marie Armstrong and Holli Wilkins and another strong performance by distance runner Erika Ramsey, who took third the 3,200-meter run.

At day's end, the Wolves had 47 points and an 18-point lead over second-place Warren County heading into the sprint finals.

"We're going to have a chance," Wesleyan coach Candler Baxley said during qualifying heats. "The big event is, we've got to have our (1,600 relay team) make it (to the finals). You want to have someone in that last race of the day. There's a good chance this meet could come down to that."

If it does, Wesleyan could be in business as the Wolves' 1,600 relay team won its qualifying heat.

That gives the Wolves seven different individuals or teams qualified in six finals events and poised to score team points today.

The other Gwinnett teams are in more complicated situations in their respective classifications.

Brookwood enters today's finals in the lead in Class AAAAA with 32.5 points after a huge day Friday, though only one individual will run in today's finals.

The Broncos got a surprising state championship in the discus by Emily Brewer and another strong 1-2 punch in a distance event - this time, Caroline Kissel (fourth) and Carly Egan (sixth) in the 1,600 to keep their team lead.

But despite not scoring any field event points, the 1-2 finish in the 1,600 by Amanda Winslow - in a state-record time of 4:44.97 - and Nicky Akande left Collins Hill just 41/2 points off the lead with 28 points.

And with qualifiers in four sprint finals today, the Eagles should be right in the mix with the Broncos, plus Redan and Westlake teams that also have several sprint qualifiers, for the state title.

"We did everything we could do (Friday)," Collins Hill coach Richard Ramsey said.

"(Today) is a whole different ball game. We've got a whole lot of work to do."

In Class AA, GAC finished Friday in good position, leading the team standings with 41 points, paced by a strong day on the field by Claire Goodson - who set a new AA state record by winning the pole vault at 10-9 - and Jessica Tuggle, plus Lauren Kester's runner-up finish in the 1,600.

The Spartans will have to hope Tuggle and the 400 relay team will score enough points to keep them in prime position today.