Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Peachtree Ridges Carson Sears heaves the shot put during the Region 7-AAAAA championships on Friday. Sears was first in the shot put and the discus and will compete in the state tournament in two weeks.
HOSCHTON Even with the additional height boost of the first-place spot on the medal stand, Peachtree Ridge's Carson Sears still peered up at the second-place finisher in the shot put, Max Garcia of Norcross.
It's a part of track and field that the senior has grown accustomed to at 6-foot, 195 pounds, considerably smaller than most throwers he encounters both in height and weight. But no one stood taller in performance Friday afternoon at Mill Creek.
Sears swept the Region 7-AAAAA shot put and discus championships, breaking two school records in the process. The wins capped a sudden rise for a thrower who just picked up the sport last year after playing baseball his first two seasons at Peachtree Ridge.
"I definitely had to work at it to get here," Sears said. "It's a lot of technique and it's not easy, especially when you're a smaller guy like me. The discus is more technique but when it goes to shot, some guys outweigh me by 100 pounds and five or six inches. It's like David and Goliath sometimes."
But the smallest thrower in the 7-AAAAA meet got the best of the big boys Friday, helping Peachtree Ridge to first place in the team standings at 67 points Norcross (64) and Mill Creek (50) were second and third.
Sears' third discus toss was the winner, sailing out to 163 feet, 10 inches. It was nearly 20 feet past the second-best throw of 144-9 posted by Mill Creek's Tyler Cierski, who earned the event's second state qualifying spot. Cierski's distance was just an inch longer than the best throw of South Forsyth's Garrett Frye. Norcross' Garcia was a close fourth at 143-8, with barely more than a foot separating second from fourth.
Sears followed that up in the next round of field events, winning the shot put with a toss of 55-10. It was just long enough to beat second-place finisher Garcia, whose 54-2 also secured a spot at state. Those two held a comfortable lead over the field as Cierskis third-place toss of 46-3 was nearly eight feet short of Garcia.
Sears unleashed his winning throw on his fifth attempt and both his shot and discus numbers were well ahead of what he did when first picked up track 70 feet in the discus and 37 feet in the shot. He's destroyed those numbers since, opening up options for a career as a college thrower.
He was region runner-up in the discus as a junior at 139 feet, but didn't place at state. He was fifth last year in the shot with a toss of 48, which wasn't good enough to qualify for state.
Now he goes to state as a double region champion, with goals of tossing 180 in the discus and 60 in the shot, numbers that would make him a state title contender in both.
"It was pretty awesome today," Sears said. "I had my best day ever all around, my best throws. It's really boosted my confidence."
Peachtree Ridge also got a big day from jumper Torri Tillman, who was first in the long jump at 23-5 and finished ahead of Norcross' Malcolm Davis, the runner-up at 22-13/4. Tillman also finished as the runner-up in the triple jump at 44-41/2, falling short of region champion Darryl Marlow of Norcross. Marlow won with a leap of 44-111/2.
Davis repeated for Norcross in the high jump, winning at 6-4. He edged Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Stanley, who also cleared 6-4, on fewer misses.
Mill Creek's Michael Kopanski won the pole vault handily with a jump of 15-4 and Norcross' Doug Macgill also qualified for state, clearing 13-0.