Gwinnett shows strong at state track

The sheer number of local individual competitors and teams in serious contention for state championships into the final events of the 2010 State Track and Field Championships made a strong statement for the state of girls track and field in Gwinnett County.

But even as much success as there were for those area teams and individuals -- such as double titles for Collins Hill's Nicky Akande and Grayson's Taren White, plus a second straight title for Brookwood discus thrower Emily Brewer -- there were other strong performances that sailed slightly under the radar.

Perhaps most notable was that of Peachtree Ridge, which became the fourth team from Gwinnett -- joining Collins Hill, Brookwood and Grayson -- top place in the top 10 in the Class AAAAA team standings.

The Lions got a pair of runner-up finishes from Sonikqua Walters in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, plus a pair of placings by Monique Pate and one by their 1,600 relay team to score 231/2 points, good for ninth place.

"It was great to see that many schools in the county do so well this year," said Peachtree Ridge coach Tomy Sitton, whose Lions posted their second straight top 10 team finish after placing sixth in 2009. "We had a solid team this year. Sonikqua could've finished anywhere from first to eighth in 200 and 400. It was the fastest field I've ever seen, but she had a great day. She ran a personal best in both events, and then came back an ran a 54.7 (-second) split in the (1,600) relay. Monique had a better region meet, but for her to come in having dealt with what she did -- being injured four about four to five weeks and then winning three region titles -- was quite an accomplishment."

Two other Gwinnett performances that quietly excelled were Buford distance runner Maya Dillard and North Gwinnett's 400 relay team of Chelsea Spencer, Hannah Mule, Marissa Jenkins and Shay Fleetwood.

Dillard accounted for all 11 of the Wolves points -- good for a tie for 16th -- by following up her fourth-place finish in Friday's 1,600 finals with a third-place showing in the 3,200 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs' relay team took fifth in its event to lift North into a tie for 38th place with four points.