The Gordon Lee Trojans track team made the long drive to Albany last weekend and returned home with a fourth-place finish in the Class 1A Public School team standings and three individual state titles.
Sophomore Jake Lee got the three-day meet started on the right foot for the Navy-and-White as he turned in a record-setting performance in the 3200. His time of 10:18.96 not only won the event, but also took down a Trojans' record that had stood since 1983. He also beat out Commerce's Demarco Hernandez at the line by a razor-thin .06 seconds to claim the state title.
Two more Gordon Lee athletes won individual boys' state titles on Friday.
Senior Wiley Heming added to the Trojans' legacy in the high jump as he won the state title with a mark of 6-foot-2. Heming cleared the height on his second attempt, while two other jumpers missed on all three of their attempts at that same height. Heming had topped out at 6-0 last year to finish fourth in the event.
Later on Friday, senior Jasper Wilson added to his decorated athletic resume as he repeated as state champion in the 1600.
After taking first place last year in a time of 4:49.63, Wilson set a new personal best with a time of 4:47.11 on Friday, the second-fastest 1600 ever run by a Trojan. Wilson made the final turn in second place, but passed J.J. Morris of Commerce in the final 100 meters to win by 1.38 seconds.
Lee picked up five points in the event for a fourth-place finish and his 4:56.33 was the fifth-fastest 1600 ever run by a Trojan and Lee's second-fastest metric mile of his career.
In the pole vault, an event that Gordon Lee has done very well at in recent years, the Trojans put two athletes on the medal stand. Senior Jagger Martin cleared 12-0 to finish third, while junior Coleby Casteel cleared 10-0 to finish sixth overall and set a new personal best.
Senior Samuel McKeehan picked up a point for the Trojans with an eighth-place showing in the discus (116-6). Senior Timothy Whitsett placed 10th in the shot put (42-3). Senior Rob Napier was 10th in the high jump (5-8). Senior Beau Barrett was 13th in the shot put (40-5). Freshman Hunter Stephens was 14th in the long jump (18-4), while Martin finished 16th in the triple jump (38-11).
Then on Saturday, Wilson returned to the track and placed fourth in the 800 with a time of 2:06.05 to help Gordon Lee finish with 49.5 points. Commerce (71.5) won the team title with Turner County (67) and Montgomery County (51) rounding out the top three.
Wilson was the only Trojan to make it through Friday qualifying in the final eight track events.
Class 3A Girls
The Class 3A meets also took place at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany where Ringgold's Morgan Allen finished second for the Lady Tigers in the high jump on Thursday. She was one of just two jumpers to clear 5-2, but Jefferson's JoJo Smith claimed the state title on the tiebreaker. Ringgold senior Annabelle Duckett also competed in the 100 hurdles, but did not qualify for Saturday's final.
Class 3A Boys
Ringgold senior Jared Dunn made it to the finals in the 110 hurdles and posted a fourth-place finish (15.08) in the final high school race of his career. Dunn failed to qualify for the finals of the 300 hurdles.
LFO senior Erik Martinez also missed out on the finals of the 800, but the recent Cleveland State cross-country signee ended his days as a Warrior runner by placing 10th in the 1600. His time of 4:31.08 fittingly set a new LFO record.
Class 4A Girls
Heritage junior Zauren Burton also made the podium in Albany on Thursday as she cleared 5-0 to place eighth in the high jump. Lady Generals' senior Madelyn Thompson finished 15th in the long jump (16-3.25) on Thursday, but came back on Saturday to take third in the 100 hurdles (15.45).
Sophomore Allison Craft was one spot short of the podium in the 3200 as she finished ninth with a time of 12:28 on Friday. Freshman Gracie Murray competed in both the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles on Friday, but failed to qualify for either final.
Meanwhile, Ridgeland freshman Annabel Hill cleared 4-8 in the high jump to place 15th overall.
Class 4A Boys
In the Class 4A state meet, which also took place in Albany, Heritage senior Wes Lozano finished third in the pole vault. He cleared 12-6, but had to settle for third place on the tiebreaker. His senior teammate, Damian Weekly, failed to qualify for Saturday's final in the 300 hurdles.
And in the discus, Ridgeland freshman Logan Montgomery had a solid fifth-place showing with a top throw of 142-11. Heritage senior Zach Scott was also in the discus field at state, but did not make the podium.