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Tillman part of five region titles; Hawks win team crown

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. North Gwinnett's Kitaro Lewis, center, leads Peachtree Ridge's D'Aron Hill and Norcross' K.J. Lightbourne over the last hurdle in the 110-meter event during the Region 7-AAAAA boys championships at Mill Creek on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. North Gwinnett's Kitaro Lewis, center, leads Peachtree Ridge's D'Aron Hill and Norcross' K.J. Lightbourne over the last hurdle in the 110-meter event during the Region 7-AAAAA boys championships at Mill Creek on Tuesday.

HOSCHTON -- Torri Tillman got off the podium at the Region 7-AAAAA track and field meet and walked gingerly with a sore hamstring.

The injury gave the Peachtree Ridge runner the slightest doubt that he wouldn't be able to compete in the 1,600 relay. But not even a sore muscle could slow Tillman down.

The senior won four region titles Tuesday at Mill Creek and finished with five crowns during the two-day meet.

"He's a heck of an athlete," Peachtree Ridge coach Vinson Elder said. "He has a bright future ahead of him."

Tillman's performance helped Peachtree Ridge challenge Mill Creek for the team title, but the Hawks held off a late charge by the Lions. Mill Creek scored 138 points to win the program's first region title. Defending region champ Peachtree Ridge finished with 136 points, while Norcross scored 96.

The top two placers in each event advance to next week's state meet at Jefferson, which begins May 5.

"I knew it was going to be close with Peachtree Ridge," Mill Creek coach Rik Moore said.

Tillman won the 100 with a time of 10.59 seconds, the third-fastest time in the state this year and a Region 7-AAAAA record. He broke his own region record in the 200 with a time of 21.35. Tillman was also part of the 400 relay and 1,600 relay teams that won region and he claimed the long jump title Monday.

"I just wanted to qualify for state," Tillman said. "I expected to do well, I just didn't think I would set two or three records."

Mill Creek entered Day 2 of the meet with a seven-point lead over Norcross. The Hawks got runner-up finishes from its 400 relay team, Zack Davis in the 400 and Devonte Lewis in the 100 in the first three events of the day. That gave Mill Creek a 26-point lead and the Hawks held on from there.

"We're built on our throwers," Moore said. "They gave us a big lead (on Monday) and we had some guys really step up in some places."

Peachtree Ridge made a surge with Tillman leading the way. Matthew Cornwall took second in the 800, Joe Horn was second in the 200 and cross country state champion Josh Brickell won the 3,200-meter run. That pulled Peachtree Ridge to within 10 points of Mill Creek, but the Lions couldn't get any closer.

"We had some mishaps," Elder said. "To be honest with you, region is about quantity, getting as many people to state. State is all about quality. When you look at the state, the top two or three kids are from our region. We'll be ready to go."

Mill Creek's Macky McLee was runner-up in the 300 hurdles and Austin Boetje followed with a second-place finish in the 3,200-meter run. Boetje's No. 2 finish nearly locked up the title by giving Mill Creek an 11-point lead going into the final race. All Mill Creek's 1,600 relay team had to do was beat Peachtree Ridge's 'B' team, which they did to seal the title.

"This is really big," Boetje said of the title. "I know coach really wanted it."

North Gwinnett had a pair of region champs. Kitaro Lewis claimed the 110 hurdles, while Andres Littig beat out Peachtree Ridge's Cornwall down the final stretch in the 800-meter run. The 1,600 relay team was second.

Lewis, a Morehead State (Ky.) football signee, won the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.93 seconds. The officials had to use a second camera to determine the runner-up, which was Mountain View's Marquis Palmer over Peachtree Ridge's D'Aron Hill. Palmer had a time of 14.95 to become second-year program Mountain View's first Class AAAAA state qualifier. Palmer went to state last year in Class AAA.

Meadowcreek's Josh James won the 400-meter run with a time of 48.75 seconds and Norcross' K.J. Lightbourne claimed the 300 hurdles crown with a time of 40.11.


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