Mill Creek welcomes national track qualifier

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Mill Creek is regarded as having one of the best track and field facilities in the state.

The Hoschton high school gets to put those amenities on display this week for the Region 3 USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.

More than 3,500 athletes from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maryland will compete in the four-day event that is expected to draw more than 10,000 spectators.

"It's a huge, huge track event," Mill Creek boys track and field coach Rik Moore said.

This is the second time that Mill Creek has hosted the Region 3 meet. The school was asked to host in 2006 on late notice after another venue fell through, but it had more than a month to get ready for this week's event.

The preparations this time included borrowing an extra high jump pit, preparing the infield and getting the press box, fieldhouse and concession stand organized.

"We're a little better prepared," Moore said. "It's like hosting one of our meets, but for someone else and much larger and for four days instead of two."

Mill Creek had to win a bid process over Starr's Mill and Carrollton to host the event.

"They liked our facilities and our meet management," Moore said. "I think the location and being close to a lot of great restaurants helped."

To compete in this meet, the top five athletes had to qualify in their event during a meet at Starr's Mill last month.

Gwinnett County has several runners who will be at the meet. Peachtree Ridge state champion pole vaulter Matt Morris and Berkmar grad Justyn Shackleford, a state runner-up in the 300 hurdles, also will be there.

Grayson's Jasmine Abrams, a state runner-up in the 200-meter run, and Jackqueline Obi will compete in the sprints. Berkmar's Elexis Guster and Peachtree Ridge's Sonikqua Walters will be in the 400, Norcross' Kamilah Bakari is in the 100 hurdles and Collins Hill's state champion 800-meter runner Sydney Williams will compete in the 800.

The top individual and relay teams from the regional will qualify for the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at Wichita State University on July 26-31.

"If you want to see some of the top athletes in their age group, yes, you'll see some really good track athletes," Moore said.

This weekend's meet begins with qualifying today, Friday and Saturday. The finals are on Sunday in running and field events.

"It speaks well of where our program is from," Moore said. "To host a meet like this, because it's a huge undertaking, it's a big honor for us. It's a lot of hard work, but it's an honor for us."