Photo: Brian Kamer Brookwood's Bailey Vitatoe clears the pole in the high jump event in Saturday's Gwinnett County Track and Field Championship. Vitatoe won the event.
HOSCHTON -- The opening day of the Gwinnett County Track and Field Championship cranked up Saturday at Mill Creek High School's Community Stadium and there were a number of impressive performances.
Peachtree Ridge's Josh Brickell came within 0.15 of a second of breaking a three-year meet record for the 1,600 meter run held by Grayson's Kirubel Erassa.
Brickell, a junior who posted a personal record of 4 minutes, 16.13 seconds just a week ago at the Coaches Invitational in Atlanta, ran away from the field right from the start and clocked a 4:17.46 and nearly eclipsed Erassa's meet record of 4:17.31.
"Maybe it wasn't my best day today after last week, but I felt good about my chances after the first lap," Brickell said. "It was a little slow at first, but I felt good after that and I'm happy I got the win. It's still early in the season and I don't race again for another two weeks or so. But I'll get in some speed work and get ready to go again."
Senior Morgan Malanoski of Brookwood placed second at 4:23.29 while sophomore Kevin Mills of Peachtree Ridge finished third with a time of 4:23.60.
On the girls' side, Brookwood's Caroline Kissel showed why she will be one of the favorites in the state this year with a title in the 1,600 meters.
Kissel, a senior who didn't enjoy the same success as Brickell last week, was on a mission Saturday and pulled away on the third lap to post a winning time of 5:04.14 -- seven seconds ahead of Katherine Yost of Norcross at 5:11.37.
"I really didn't run that well last weekend (at the Coaches Invitational) and I used that frustration to do better today," said Kissel, who also won the event in 2011. "I knew what I wanted to do today and I knew when I wanted to make a move in the race. It's still earlier in the spring (track season) and I have a lot left to run. It's my senior season and I want it to be special."
QuanDra Shanks of Brookwood placed third with a clocking of 5:15.55.
In the field events, Dacula's Anna Machovec took home a pair of titles in the shot put and discus.
Machovec, a sophomore, posted a 40 foot, 2.50 inches in the shot put and then came back later in the day to win the discus competition with a throw of 120-5.
"That was a PR (personal record) for me in the shot put, so I'm really happy with that," Machovec said.
Stephanie Amichia of Peachtree Ridge finished second in the shot put at 38-9.75 while Casidy Callahan of Norcross placed third at 37-4.5.
In the discus, Callahan placed second with a toss of 118-1 and Madison Sears of Peachtree Ridge was third at 113-8.
On the boys' side, Mill Creek's Trevor Joyce was equally impressive with titles in the shot put and discus.
Joyce, a senior, won the shot put with a toss of 52-6 and returned in the discus to win it with a throw of 152-8.
In the shot put, senior Alex Armah Jr. of Dacula was second with a throw of 50-11 and Grayson senior Matt Roon was third at 49-9.5.
The Parkview pair of sophomore John Patterson and senior Breon Weathersby placed second and third, respectively. Patterson's throw was 142-8 while Weathersby came in at 139-4.
Brookwood senior Justin Grose won his second straight county title in the pole vault by clearing 13-0.
Parkview senior Elijah Clark was second at 12-6 and Mill Creek junior Christian Wilson was third, also at 12-6.
Meanwhile, Mill Creek senior Quen Moore cleared 8-6 to win the girls' pole vault crown.
Moore was followed by Peachtree Ridge freshman Tiffany Kinard -- also at 8-6 -- and Mill Creek freshman Larsen Moore at 8-0.
Brookwood sophomore Bailey Vitatoe won the high jump at 6-6 and he was followed by Mill Creek junior Michael Cheeks (6-2) and North Gwinnett sophomore John Paul Harley (also at 6-2).
Mill Creek junior Malayshia George took the girls' high jump title at 5-4, followed by Peachtree Ridge sophomore Jazmine Johnson and Central Gwinnett senior Caryn Ivey (each also at 5-4).
The boys' triple jump crown went to North Gwinnett senior Malcom Jackson at 46-4.25 and he was followed by South Gwinnett senior Mark Watts (43-8.25) and Collins Hill junior Devin Monroe (43-4.25).
Senior Pakitta Jackson of Norcross won the girls triple jump at 35-0, followed by Shiloh senior Cynthia Butler (34-9) and Central Gwinnett junior Isamaelle Occeus (34-3.5).
Central Gwinnett senior Aaron Taylor won the boys long jump at 21-9.25 and he was followed by Norcross senior Curtis Whisby (21-1.50) and Dacula freshman Jacque Evangelister (20-11.5).
Freshman Jakael Bush of Central Gwinnett won the girls long jump championship at 17-7. Senior Moneice Watson of Berkmar (17-1) second and senior Kamilah Bakari of Norcross (16-7.5) was third.
Brookwood's boys led after the first day with a team score of 46 points, followed by Mill Creek in second at 37.5 and Dacula in third with 33.
The lead after Day 1 on the girls side belonged to Norcross with 48 points while Mill Creek was in second at 37 and Peachtree Ridge in third at 33.