Parkview boys try to fill holes at county

Parkview's boys track and field team had the best season in school history last year, winning the program's first state title.

The Panthers also claimed Gwinnett County and Region 8-AAAAA championships, but first-year coach Matt Henson isn't feeling any pressure to duplicate that success. At least right now.

The Panthers head into Saturday's two-day county track meet at Mill Creek High School looking to fill some holes in their lineup after graduating some key seniors.

"There's two meets that mean the most -- the county and region," Henson said. "This one is a good measuring stick because if you can compete in this county, you can compete with the rest of the state."

The Panthers have some strong athletes in the field events led by triple jump state champion Julian Vann. But it's in Monday's running finals that Henson is trying to fill some voids if Parkview wants to win its third straight county title.

"Without a doubt it's Brookwood (as the favorite)," Henson said. "They've got strong runners, unbelievable distance runners and decent throwers. They are going to spread it out pretty good."

Some of the top races on the boys side include the 110 hurdles, where four boys could finish in under 15 seconds. The 3,200-meter run will feature two of the state's top runners -- Brookwood's Tyler Anyan is the defending state champion in the event and cross country state champion Kirubel Erassa from Grayson has the top time in the event this year.

The Collins Hill girls have won the last eight county championships, but the Eagles will have to fight off a pack of strong teams to win a ninth. No team other than Brookwood, Parkview or Collins Hill has won the girls county meet since it started in 1983.

"I think you will have a few more teams up there than last year," Peachtree Ridge coach Tomy Sitton said.

Parkview, Peachtree Ridge, Grayson and Collins Hill are expected to be in the mix for this year's county crown.

The Panthers haven't won it since it three-peated from 1997-99, but with a solid team in the field and running events they appear to be the front runners heading into the meet.

"I think Parkview is the favorite," Sitton said. "They are stronger in the field events than we are and the rest of the county."

Sara Brown and Shea Spicher (3,200), Emily Chosewood (discus and shot put), Denise Walters (triple jump) and Indiah Bell (long jump) have been Parkview's top performers early in the season.

The first day of the meet Saturday is expected to have temperatures in the low 60s as the field events and track qualifying takes place.

That's good news after last year's weather prompted the cancellation of the running qualifying on Saturday. If there's bad weather for Monday's running finals, the races could be moved to Tuesday.