There was no gradual build up for athletes to compete for top prizes at the GHSA Track and Field State Championships on Thursday.

The opening day of the events at three sites across Georgia saw plenty of medals up for grabs, and local athletes were ready to grab away. Two came away with state championships.

Rome High’s Jahlia Evans catapulted her way to the Class 5A girls’ triple jump championship Thursday, while Model’s Ellie Getchell worked through the pressure of defending her title and won the Class AA girls’ pole vault.

“It was a lot sweeter than last year,” Getchell said as she waited to collect her second straight gold medal. “The feeling of doing it the second year in a row and knowing all the pressure I had behind me to defend my title, it was an awesome feeling just to do that again.”

Getchell’s winning vault at Berry College’s Valhalla Stadium was 11 feet, a foot higher than her best vault a year ago that won her the state title as a freshman. She had her sights set on breaking the state record, but said going 2-for-2 in her high school career is pretty good.

“I know it was kind of a stretch, but the state record is 12-1, and that was in the back of my mind,” Getchell said. “That would have also qualified me for New Balance nationals. I didn’t clear that, but it’s all good because I defended my title.”

Berry is hosting both the Class AA and Class A Private state finals, with Thursday featuring preliminary heats for all of the medium-distance and sprint track events, as well as a few field events. The remainder of the field events are scheduled for today.

Armuchee’s Kayla Hutcherson finished third in the girls’ 3,200-meter run with a time of 12 minutes, 26.66 seconds, setting a new school record in the senior’s final competition of her high school career.

Model’s Jessie Schroeder also competed in the 3,200 and came in sixth with a personal-best time of 12:45.21. The Lady Blue Devils wrapped up the first day of action in second place in the Class AA girls’ team standings with 13 points. Bleckley County leads with a score of 23.5.

The Rome High girls got the Class 5A state championships off to strong start at Carrollton’s Grisham Stadium as Evans won the girls’ triple jump with a distance of 38 feet, 10 1/2 inches.

The day was made sweeter for Rome as the Lady Wolves scored points at a state meet for the first time at a state meet since 2012, putting them in first place in the team standings with 19 points. Kell is second with 18.

Evans, who is new to the triple jump this season, didn’t realize how well she’d done until head coach Nick Bridges and her teammates told the sophomore she’d won the event.

“She’s so new to all of it, she doesn’t have a clue as to what’s going on,” Bridges said. “We’re all hugging her and congratulating her, and she’s like, ‘What? They let you win with 38 feet?’ That’s a good thing. It’s amazing.”

Evans wasn’t alone in having a successful day. Chloe Tilton finished fourth overall in the pole vault with a vault of 10 feet to secure points for the girls, and Renauzay Jackson took fifth in the long jump with a distance of 18-3 1/2.

Marquis Glanton had a record day for the boys, breaking his own school record in the triple jump with a distance of 46-2 3/4 and finishing fifth in the event.

Rome’s boys sit in a tie for 13th place with Loganville with seven points. All state championship track and field meets are scheduled to continue through Saturday.

“We’re almost where we thought we should be,” Bridges said. “We were hoping to have 10 on the boys side. There are some really talented kids in the state of Georgia. We’ll bring the rest of the cavalry down tomorrow and see how it goes.”

Also in Carrollton, Pepperell’s Cade Maynor won a state championship in the Wheelchair Class 2 boys’ shot put. Maynor was the only entry, but his throw of 14-3 1/2 not only gave him a state title, but was nearly a foot further than the previous state record-holding throw, which was 13-1 1/2.

Sports writer Jonathan Blaylock contributed to this report.