Photo: Larry G. Williams Stephanie Amichia throws the shot put in the Class AAAA track & field state championships in Albany on Friday.
ALBANY -- Before her final jump, Landyn Duley knew she had claimed her first track state championship.
The sophomore from Wesleyan's jump of 35 feet, 11 inches already stood at tops for Class A triple jump, but Duley came to Albany with a goal beyond a medal and a hat.
"Her goal was 36 (feet)," said Wesleyan coach Candler Baxley.
On Duley's final leap, she went 36-3 , matching all her triple jump goals for the state championships. Her best jump before Friday? 35-6 .
"I kind of knew I already had it," Duley said. "I just went and jumped and went all out."
As a sophomore this is Duley's first trip to Albany in just her second year competing in track and field. She will also be the first ever Wesleyan runner to run in the 100-meter finals today.
"It's been a lot of fun," Duley said of her first trip to the state meet. "Hanging out with everybody and watching everybody compete as well."
And, typical for Wesleyan athletes, this wasn't Duley's first state championship. She won her first earlier this season with the basketball team and was also a member of the state runner-up softball team. But it was her first individual crown in an event still relatively new to her.
"I'm really proud of her," Baxley said. "She's just an incredible athlete. She had never stepped foot on a track before last year."
She's having fun now.
"I am excited," Duley said right after taking pictures next to her posted state-winning number. "It's pretty cool. I, not to doubt myself, but I didn't really know I was that good at triple jump. Winning was pretty cool."
Frerking leaps into Wesleyan record books
By the time the Class A high jump surpassed 5-feet, 2 inches it was Wesleyan vs. Wesleyan.
Katie Frerking and teammate Hannah Hoskin were the final two jumpers left standing, insuring a champion and runner-up in the event for the Wolves. And it wasn't the first time.
"At a lot of our meets, that happens," Frerking said. "It's relaxing. I like having (Hoskin) with me.
"It was kind of a comfort thing."
Hoskin finished second after gutting her way to 5-2 on a third jump, leaving Frerking alone to chase higher bars.
And she did.
The junior, in her first year high jumping, cleared 5-6 on her final attempt and then crossed 5-6 on the third try for a new school record. The previous record belonged to Anne Marie Armstrong.
"I kept the same routine," Frerking said. "I do better when I have competition and I know I have to do this.
"But, I guess, it's always you and the bar."
Jumping alone and the midday sun took its toll and Frerking stopped at 5-6 , narrowly missing 5-7 all three times.
"I got really tired," she said. "I had a lot of adrenaline going into the (record-setting jump). My legs got a little shaky."
Still a state championship and a new school record aren't bad for the first year jumping.
"Both are fun," she said. "It's a big day."
'Redemption' for Yost
After getting stuck in an outside lane and finishing well out of the top placers during Thursday's Class AAAAA 1,600 meter, Norcross' Katherine Yost came prepared to the 3,200.
The junior, who missed last season with an injury and didn't train the week leading up to the state meet due to nagging pain, stuck with a small group during the two-mile run and stayed right on the inside lane. When the final lap came, she kicked right behind Alpharetta's Rachel Thorne to finish third in a time of 10:58.84. Her previous best time was 11:19.
"That's the best news I've heard," Yost said of her time. "This is redemption for yesterday."
Yost's goal was to place at least at her qualifying number and a third place after starting fourth fits that description.
"That's about what I wanted to do," said Yost, who enjoys running for the competition. "I like doing well. If I didn't do well, I wouldn't do it."
'I love it here'
Madison Sears could not contain her happiness.
The Peachtree Ridge senior, who qualified for state in the Class AAAAA discus with a 107-10, had been stuck on a personal best of 113 for months. So when she crushed that mark by nine feet with a throw of 122-10, the future college discus thrower exalted.
"I got so emotional," Sears said. "I just started crying."
To put an emphasis on breaking past 113, Sears' final throw travelled 118.
"This is where I wanted to make it happen," said Sears of setting a new personal best. "This peak, (throwing) 120, I've been accepted to three colleges. It couldn't get any better."
Sears has been accepted for academics and track at Shorter, Milligan and Gardner-Webb.
Her throw of 122-10 was good enough for third, a place behind runner-up Anna Machovec from Dacula.
"My goal was to make it to state," said Sears, who made her first trip to Albany in her senior season. "To get the bronze at state is a huge accomplishment.
"I love it here. It's great."
Better than expected
Even in her first year running track, Berkmar's Daijah Cooke had some expectation for her triple jump Friday.
"When I came in I expected myself to be in fifth," Cooke said. "But, I got third, so that's good."
Her jump of 36-9 was six inches further than her previous best, but less than an inch shy of her goal of breaking 70.
But for a basketball player who picked up track at the request of the Patriots' track coach, she'll take making it to state and placing third in her first try anytime.