Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Peachtree Ridge sprinter Sonikqua Walters, center, celebrates besides Grayson High School sprinter Aliyah Abrams, left, and Mill Creek High School sprinter Malavshia George after the girls 400 meter dash during the Gwinnett County Track and Field Championships at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton on Monday. Walters placed first at 54.79, Abrams placed second at 54.88 and George placed third at 55.77.
HOSCHTON -- A year ago at the Gwinnett County track and field championships, Sonikqua Walters injured her hamstring and was never the same.
The Peachtree Ridge standout runner missed the region meet and failed to qualify for state for the first time.
Walters returned to the county meet on Monday at Mill Creek and showed she was back and healthy.
Walters won the 400-meter run with a Gwinnett County meet record time of 54.79 seconds. With the warm temperatures, athletes broke eight county records on the day.
"This is my coming out party that I'm back," Walters said. "I'm coming for anyone and everyone."
Walters' title along with teammate Autumnn Burnett's dual crowns in the hurdles propelled the Lions to their second straight county title.
"This is great to me," Burnett said. "We are seniors and we are trying to go out winning everything."
The Lions beat out Brookwood (80 points) for second place, Norcross (65) and Mill Creek (61).
"I think we were pretty balanced," Peachtree Ridge coach Ron Clanton said. "We got off to a good start with the field events, our sprinters out did themselves, the distance runners did very well. I'm proud of all three phases. The kids really stepped up to the plate today."
Brookwood's boys team had an 8.5-point lead going into Monday's finals over Mill Creek. The Broncos had four county champs to help claim their second straight county title. Brookwood scored 131 points to beat Mill Creek (83.5), Norcross (58) and Parkview (51).
"Our depth helped us in the is meet," Brookwood coach Mark Kelley said. "This is something to build upon."
Brookwood's Justin Martin won the 400, Kisean Smith took the 800, the 3,200 relay team won along with the 1,600 relay setting a county meet record.
Parkview's Micah Reed, a Morehead State football signee, broke two county meet records by winning the 100 and 200.
"It feels good," Reed said. "I'm running faster times now than I was this time last year and it's on a torn ACL."
Reed injured his leg last summer and had surgery in October. He appears to be running fine with his time of 10.69 seconds in the 100 and 21.64 in the 200.
Shiloh's 400 relay set a new county meet record with a time of 41.94.
Norcross' Dennis Gillespie won the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.89 seconds and took second in the 300 hurdles. Grayson's Christian Smith claimed the 300 hurdles title with a time of 39.09.
Defending state champion Josh Brickell from Peachtree Ridge won his second county title. The junior won the mile on Saturday and then won the 3,200 on Monday with a time of 9 minutes, 16.81 seconds.
Peachtree Ridge's girls entered Monday's running finals in third place and 15 points back. The Lions got a big push from Walters and Burnett.
"On the track, that's who we go to," Clanton said. "Everybody feeds off of them. They've got a great attitude about the sport."
Walters' county meet record in the 400 gave her the state's top time this season, taking it back from Grayson's Aliaya Abrams who posted the best time on Saturday.
"Coming in, I was a little unsure. I knew she would put up a fight. I trusted my training and stayed relaxed," Walters said. "I took it back. She took it from on Saturday (in qualifying). I had to get it back."
Burnett took the 100 hurdles title with a county meet time of 14.50 and then broke the all-time county record with a time of 42.58 in the 300 hurdles.
"I've been working really hard this season," Burnett said.
Grayson's Jasmine Abrams also set a county meet record in the 100 with a time of 11.73 seconds. The senior won the 200 with a time of 24.06 seconds.Parkview claimed the 400 relay (48.40) title and North Gwinnett won the 3,200 relay (10:25.41).
Brookwood's QuanDra Shanks won the 800 with a time of 2:18.82 and teammate Caroline Kissel won her second county title. Kissel won the mile on Saturday and claimed the two-mile on Monday with a time of 11:12.47.