Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross triple jumper Pakitta Jackson placed first with a jump of 35-3 3/4 during the Class AAAAA Region 7 Track and Field Championships at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton on Thursday.
HOSCHTON -- Distance boosts in the throwing events generally come in small increments, a few feet here and there.
Trevor Joyce made a more substantial jump over the past year.
The Mill Creek senior added more than 25 feet to his best discus tosses from last season and it paid off Thursday afternoon when he won the Region 7-AAAAA discus title with a throw of 142 feet, 11 inches. He also won the shot put at 49-10, giving him a sweep of the throwing events.
Last year he was the No. 3 discus thrower on a loaded team. This year he's a two-time region champion.
"I just practiced every day and really focused on technique since I'm not the biggest guy," Joyce said. "I try to outwork everybody else that throws. ... I was never really good at (discus), but this year I knew I had to get better if I wanted to be one of the better throwers in the state."
Because Mill Creek, the defending boys region champion, was so strong in the discus last year, Joyce focused mainly on the shot put and finished as region runner-up in that event to teammate Tyler Cierski.
Graduation wiped out the bulk of the Hawks' other top throwers from last season, and Mill Creek coach Josh Lovelady said Joyce knew it was his time to step up in a boys throwing program that has won eight region titles in the past six years.
Though his throws Thursday weren't up to his personal bests this season of 152-7 in discus and 52-6 in shot, Joyce can still say he's a two-time region champion.
"(Trevor's) a resilient kid," Lovelady said. "He looks more like a runner than a thrower. He's not the typical-looking thrower, but he gets the most out of his body and understands the emphasis on technique."
Joyce's two victories, along with Jacorey Lewis' first-place finish in the long jump (21-10 ), put Mill Creek in second place entering today's running finals. The Hawks have 60 points and trail leader Norcross (70 ), while Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett are tied for third with 40 points each.
Norcross' depth led to its early lead as Shahid Mitchell was Norcross' only event-winner. He won the high jump at 6-4.
Peachtree Ridge had a pair of boys champions, with Matthew Morris winning the pole vault (14-0) and Josh Brickell winning the 1,600-meter run (4:20.59). North Gwinnett's lone event champion was Malcolm Jackson, who won the triple jump (45-9).
Host Mill Creek finished the day first in the girls team standings with 70 points. The Hawks got victories from Larsen Moore in the pole vault (8-6) and Malayshia George in the high jump (5-6).
The Norcross girls were second with 64 points, followed by Peachtree Ridge (56) and Collins Hill (44).
Pakitta Jackson won the triple jump (35-3 ) for Norcross, while teammates Kamilah Bakari (long jump, 16-9 ) and Casidy Callahan (discus, 119-2) also had first-place finishes.
Peachtree Ridge had the other two girls champions of the day -- Stephanie Amichia in the shot put (38-3 ) and Lauren Kelly in the 1,600 (5:11.30). Kelly edged Norcross' Katherine Yost (5:11.59) in an ultra-tight 1,600 finish.