Gwinnett aims to keep track state title in county

For the last three years the Class AAAAA boys track and field championship has resided in Gwinnett County.

Brookwood, Mill Creek and Peachtree Ridge hope they can keep the title here.

The boys track and field state championship begins today in Jefferson and those three schools are the county's best shots to bring home another title.

"Gwinnett County always fields good track teams. I'm proud to be part of it," Peachtree Ridge coach Ron Clanton said.

It took nearly 60 years before Parkview snapped the county's winless streak in the state's highest classification. Brookwood followed with a title in 2010 and Peachtree Ridge won it last season.

"We've got some quality pieces that will get us on the podium," Clanton said. "We won state with basically three guys last year and two of them are back."

Junior Josh Brickell is the defending champion in the 1,600-meter and 3,200 runs. He also has the classification's top times this season. Senior Matt Morris is also back to defend his pole vault title and has the top mark in Class AAAAA at 15 feet, 2 inches. Kevin Mills has also come on strong in the 1,600 and 3,200.

"Honestly, our goal is to get on the podium. I think we can," Clanton said. "If our guys equal their best from this season, we'll get on the podium."

The Lions will have to fight off Mill Creek, which beat Peachtree Ridge for the Region 7-AAAAA title, and Region 8-AAAAA champion Brookwood. Mill Creek finished runner-up at last year's state meet.

Several Gwinnett athletes will be in the mix for individual state championships. North Gwinnett's Malcolm Jackson (triple jump), Dacula's Alex Armah (discus), Brookwood's Bilal Abdullah (high jump) and Mill Creek's Trevor Joyce (shot put) are title contenders in their events.

Wesleyan has captured a trophy once in school history. The Wolves placed fourth in 2008, but have a good shot at bringing home another trophy this weekend in the Class A meet.

"We have a lot of great potential to score high and we look forward to getting out there and seeing what happens," Wesleyan coach Chad McDaniel said.

The Wolves will have to battle defending state champion Athens Christian and Darlington at the podium. Zander Yost (300 hurdles), Cole Warren (400), Bradley Gossett (1,600 and 3,200) and Doug Mohme (800) should score a bulk of the team's points.

"We have a great group of boys going this year. Coming out of our region, which is very difficult, it's a testament to them," McDaniel said.