Speedy Spartans seek state titles

Greater Atlanta Christian has been known for its distance runners and field performers in track and field.

The Norcross private school typically doesn't turn out some of the state's top sprinters. That's not the case this year.

The Spartans have some of the state's top sprinters in Class AA heading into this weekend's state meet in Albany.

"It's been a real unique year for us," longtime GAC coach Brad Kinser said.

The Spartans have had three girls break the school record in the 100-meter run and 200 this season.

Malieka Slayton has the top time in Class AA with 12.10 seconds in the 100. Airica Palmer is second in the state with a time of 12.18. The duo are also one-two in the 200. Slayton has a time of 24.58 and Palmer 24.99.

If the rules allowed more than two athletes from a school to qualify for state, Brittany Palmer would have made it. Palmer has the state's fourth-best time in the 100 and third best in the 200.

"One of my problems has been where do I put people," Kinser said. "Usually you don't have that issue. It's been fun."

GAC also has the state's top time in the 400 and 1,600 relays. The 400 relay team of Arnold, Palmer, Slayton and Kayin Mujahid has a time of 46.99, which is 23rd best in the country. The 1,600 relay of Arnold, Tamara Bryant, Slayton and Mujahid has a time of 3:56.72.

"We want to go one-two in the 100 and 200 and win both relays," Kinser said.

That kind of success would put GAC in position to win another state title. The Spartans won championships in 2009 and 2005. GAC will have to beat out defending state champion Decatur, Blessed Trinity and Westminter. All three teams are in the same region and the Spartans took third at the Region 6-AA meet.

"We're in position to get one of the four trophies," Kinser said. "We have a chance to win it. Anything can happen down there. It's always fun when you're counting points down there."

In the Class AAAAA meet, Peachtree Ridge has the state's most qualifiers with 15 individuals and two relay teams.

The group is led by Autumnn Burnett (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Lauren Kelly (1,600, 3,200), Sonikqua Walters (400, 800), Paige Tucker (800), Stephanie Amichia (shot put, discus) and Jazmyn Johnson (high jump).

They are in the mix with defending state champion M.L. King, Alpharetta, Walton and Grayson to battle for a trophy.

The Rams have some of the state's top sprinters in sisters Jasmine (100, 200) and Aliayh Abrams (200, 400). They also lead a successful 1,600 relay team.