Goodson, Tuggle put GAC in front

ATLANTA -- The biting wind calmed down and the sun broke through off and on. But any improvement in the weather was too late for Claire Goodson.

The defending Class AA pole vault champion will have to wait until the state meet to break an elusive barrier as she continues her quest to clear 12 feet.

With gusts at their worst and a light rain falling, the Greater Atlanta Christian senior missed on her three attempts with the bar set at 12 feet.

Goodson had to settle for going over 11 feet, 6 inches as she won another Region 6-AA title Monday at Westminster.

With Goodson and Jessica Tuggle leading the way, GAC has the lead after the first day of competition, with the final running events to be held today beginning at 5 p.m.

The Spartans, defending Class AA state team champions, have 64 points. Lovett is second with 50 points, while Westminster and Blessed Trinity are tied for third with 43.5.

Buford is sixth with 21 points thanks to Maya Dillard's second-place finish in the 1,600.

Goodson kept waiting as long as she could for a little break in the weather before each vault, but there was never much of a respite from the elements.

"It's frustrating, because I know I can clear 12 feet," said Goodson, whose best is 11-101/2. "I've been over it a couple of times, but hit the bar on the way down."

Battling the weather, the College of Charleston signee needed her final attempt to make 11-6 and didn't come close on any of her three tries at 12-0.

"I thought that it was supposed to be a nice day," GAC coach Brad Kinser said.

It obviously wasn't, but Tuggle still repeated as Region 6-AA champ in the triple and long jumps. The senior, who won the state triple jump title last year, leaped 37-8 in that event and did 17-53/4 in the long jump despite competing in the off-and-on rain.

"The conditions definitely weren't the best," she said.

Tuggle won the state triple jump last year and would like to add the long jump as well this time at Albany during the second weekend in May. She has jumped 18-61/2, the winning distance in Class AA last year.

GAC got a boost when Danielle Moss qualified for the state meet by finishing second in the shot put with a heave of 36-3. But Lauren Kester, who won the state 3,200 title last season and was runner-up in the 1,600, fell short of a state berth in her first race.

Kester, who has not been 100 percent physically this season, finished third in the 1,600 behind Westminster's Sahara Fletcher and Buford's Dillard. Fletcher ran 5:14.42 and Dillard's time was 5:19.75, well ahead of Kester's 5:29.80.

Kester, a junior, will get another chance to land a berth in the state meet when the 3,200 is held tonight.

In addition to Kester, GAC had two other athletes finish in third place, missing state by one spot. Caroline Bond cleared 10 feet in the pole vault, six inches out of second place, and Rachel Waldrop had a discus toss of 96-7 when 99-11/2 was good for second.

The Region 6-AA meet was originally scheduled to start Saturday, but was pushed back because of rain and the threat of storms. The weather was definitely better Monday, but not by as much as hoped.