J.D. Sumner/The Albany Herald
Brookwood's Caroline Kissel, right, and Quandra Shanks, keep pace with each other in the AAAAA 1,600-meter run Thursday at the girls state track meet in Albany.
ALBANY — Caroline Kissel will have to wait another year to claim the 1,600-meter state championship.
The Brookwood junior finished as runner up in the Class AAAAA race for the second year on Thursday at the girls state track and field meet at Hugh Mills Stadium.
“I think I ran pretty well,” Kissel said. “I wish I maybe ran a little faster. I’ve got next year to try and win it.”
Gwinnett County had three runners place in the top four. Kissel was second, Broncos’ teammate QuanDra Shanks was third and Peachtree Ridge’s Lauren Kelly took fourth.
Kissel had with a time of 5 minutes, 6.910 seconds to take second place behind Centennial’s Brooke Koblitz. The senior came into the meet with the top time in the state this season and won the state championship with a time of 5:05.230.
Kissel was in third at the halfway point of the race and began to pull away with Koblitz after three laps. Then Koblitz made a move on the back straightaway and Kissel couldn’t keep up the pace.
“I tried to stay with Brooke,” Kissel said. “She just had a better race.”
Kissel was followed by Shanks. The sophomore posted a time of 5:08.180 in her first race at this year’s state meet.
“I felt strong on the last lap,” Shanks said. “I was really nervous at the start of the race. I was afraid I was going to finish last.”
It’s the third time Kissel and Shanks have finished next to each other. The duo went 1-2 at the Gwinnett County and Region 8-AAAAA meets. Kissel’s time was a season best, but was two seconds off her personal record set at last year’s meet. Sanks knocked eight seconds off her personal record.
“She’s a beast,” Shanks said of Kissel. “I just try to stay with her.”
Kelly started the race in the back of the pack. The junior transfer from Providence made a surge after the first two laps to finish fourth with a time of 5:09.670.
“I felt pretty good with my performance,” Kelly said.
The fourth-place finish has been part of a breakout season for Kelly. She didn’t qualify for state while at Providence, but has finished in the top four in two state meets this school year. She took fourth at the cross country state championships in November.
Kissel will have to wait another year to win the 1,600, but she gets another shot at in the 3,200 today. She took second in the two mile last year.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Kissel said.
Kelly will also be in the race along with Brookwood’s Anakaren Lopez and Collins Hill’s Chloe Whitworth, the defending state champion in cross country.
The field events begin today, along with qualifying in the running events. The running finals will be held on Saturday.