Eagles favored to reclaim Region 7 track title

Peachtree Ridge's girls track and field team ended Collins Hill's seven-year run as region champs last season.

The Lions edged out a three-point win to claim their first region crown. But head coach Tomy Sitton isn't sure if his team can defend the title on Monday and Tuesday's Region 7-AAAAA championships.

Peachtree Ridge's top athlete has missed most of the season, while Collins Hill appears to be getting stronger as the season has progressed.

"I think we'll do well and be in the hunt, but Collins Hill is the favorite," Sitton said.

Peachtree Ridge's Monique Pate has been banged up most of the year. The senior was fourth at state in the 300 hurdles last season and has been the Lions' top high jumper and runs on several relay teams. She's expected to participate in the shot put.

"She's not really recovered. If we had her at full strength then I might say we have a shot at winning it," Sitton said. "I would have to say Collins Hill is the favorite now."

Peachtree Ridge beat Collins Hill by one point at the county meet in March, but the Eagles have improved over the last month.

"We've made a whole lot of progress since the county meet," Collins Hill coach Andrew Hudson said. "We're in a better position to win region than we were county."

Collins Hill is coming off a runner-up finish at the Volunteer Classic on April 17 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Eagles won every sprint relay at the meet and feature cross country state champion runner Nicky Akande, a Villanova signee.

"I feel like we have a good chance to win it," Hudson said. "It's nice to be in that position again. We'll certainly savor it if we do."

Chattahoochee's Sydney Marshall, last year's 3,200-meter state runner-up, returned to racing last weekend and won the Carrollton Invitational.

Parkview ended Shiloh's three-year run as Region 8-AAAAA champions last season. The Panthers will get a chance to defend their crown at Monday and Wednesday's championship at Brookwood and Grayson.

After winning the Gwinnett County title last month, the Panthers are the favorite to repeat as region champs, although it should be a tight race between three or four teams.

"Grayson is loaded, I mean loaded, on the track," Parkview coach Matt Henson said. "Shiloh is going to score a ton of points and so is Brookwood. I don't know who is the favorite. You don't have some of the Region 7 teams (like at county) to spread it out."

Brookwood features a strong group of distance runners in QuanDra Shanks (800), Caroline Kissel (1,600) and Anakaren Lopez (3,200) to go along with defending discus state champion Emily Brewer to challenge Parkview.

Grayson's Taren White is a three-time region champ in the 100 and 200-meter events and will go for a fourth title this week.

The top two in each event qualify for the state track meet in Albany on May 6-8. The boys region championships will be on May 3-5 and the state meet is May 13-15 in Jefferson.