Photo by Christine Troyke
SNELLVILLE -- Teammates going head-to-head for Region 8-AAAAA championships was commonplace Monday, but in the 1,600-meter run the two top Brookwood runners were going for second place along with everybody else.
Grayson senior Kirubel Erassa made sure of that, leading from the start in a fast race that saw him break the all-time Gwinnett County record with a time of 4 minutes, 11.56 seconds. He broke the mark of 4:12.43, held by Brookwood's Tyler Anyan, the 8-AAAAA runner-up to Erassa in 4:13.82.
His Bronco teammate, Carter Hewitt, was third in 4:17.12, but his seeded time was 4:12.50. Parkview's Steven Spevacek was fourth in 4:19.56, shaving six seconds off his personal best.
But only Erassa and Anyan qualified for the state 1,600, providing evidence for the proponents of adding a sectional meet between region and state so that runners in difficult regions get state bids over runners from other regions with slower times.
Erassa, who has been injury-plagued this season, made sure he didn't get left out at state with a dominating effort.
"It felt pretty easy, but I was so scared," Erassa said. "I just want to go home. I get so nervous about the race. But I feel great now."
Dacula teammates Eli Mahaley and Robert Harvey had similar joy. They finished 1-2 in both the shot put and the discus, with Mahaley taking both championships.
He won the discus at 161 feet, 5 inches while Harvey was second at 155-4. It was much closer in the shot put with Mahaley tossing it 57-6 and Harvey 56-0.
"It's especially nice for me and (Harvey) to (make state)," Mahaley said. "We like to compete and see who can get first. We kind of promised each other at the beginning of the year that we'd both be state qualifiers."
They followed up on that promise Monday afternoon.
"We like to compete against each other," said Harvey, who still has a slight edge over Mahaley for longest shot put of the season. "We're good friends and we always push each other to do better."
Brookwood teammates Caroline Kissel and Sarah Perry also had a nice duel in the girls 1,600, taking the top two spots with a late-race push past Parkview's Sara Brown and Shea Spicher. Kissel won in 5:22.12 and Perry was just behind in 5:22.21.
The boys triple jump ended with a surprise as Shiloh's Devin Moore leaped 46-11 to upset Parkview's Julian Vann. Vann, the reigning state champion, was second at 46-41/2.
Brookwood's Matt Caldwell easily won the high jump at 6-9, then fell just short in three attempts at the county record of 7-0.
Shiloh's Creeann Perkins (37-11, shot put) and Parkview's Emily Chosewood (127-2, discus) won the girls throwing events, and Chosewood also made state with a second-place shot put finish. Shiloh's Leann Little (36-11/2, triple jump), Brookwood's Laura Dryden (9-0, pole vault), Central Gwinnett's Caryn Ivey (5-2, high jump) and Parkview's Alexis Jones-Hardy (17-4, long jump) also won region titles.
The other boys region champions were South Gwinnett's Jonathan Krause (23-0, long jump) and Dacula's Terris Elliott (13-6, pole vault).