Spending time at Barron Stadium on Saturday would uncover a few tense moments for Rome High's track and field athletes. Yet despite an influx of new schools and tougher competition, the hosts of the Rome Relays were able to let out a victory howl at the end.
Both the Rome boys' and girls' teams came out on top in the final overall standings in a field of 15 teams, making it the second year in a row the hometown squads have taken home both first-place team trophies at the event.
"It's always fun to win, and it's great to win at home in front of a home crowd," Rome track coach Nick Bridges said.
"To compete with this level of competition, with fantastic schools with athletes that compete in summer programs with track clubs, we're doing it within our track season. We have fantastic kids, and keep getting better and better."
The Rome boys' team won five events and finished second in five more to secure their lead in the standings, ending the day with 117 points. Hillgrove was second with 96, while Cedartown came in sixth with 40 points.
The Wolves took first in the 4x100 meters, setting a new meet record with a time of 41.91 seconds. Jakobe Hamilton, Bryson Hill and Montrell Millsap won the boys' 330-meter shuttle hurdles relay in 49.23 seconds, and Rome's 4x200 relay team took first with a time of 1:30.13.
Hamilton also won the boys' high jump, clearing six feet, while Connor Johnson gave Rome a first place in the boys' pole vault as he topped 13 feet.
Rome's boys finished runner-up in the distance medley (11:30.06), the 4x800 (8:50.97) and the 4x400 (3:28.20).
"Overall I'm very proud. And really it shows our depth," Bridges said. "When you go toe-to-toe with a group of schools and athletes like this and are able to put people in several events like we need to, that shows our depth. I'm very excited for both the boys and the girls."
The Lady Wolves had a solid day, finishing with 102 points while Hillgrove's girls were second with 82.5.
A first-place in the 4x100 throwers' relay highlighted several hard-earned runner-up finishes for Rome's girls. Chloe Tilton tied for second in the pole vault with a height of 9-6, and the 4x100 team set a new school record with its second-place finish of 49.48 seconds.
Rome also got second in the girls' distance medley (13:43.12) and 4x200 (1:47.73), while coming in third in the 4x400 in 4:06.85. North Springs won the girls' 4x400 in 3:54.39, breaking a 30-year-old meet record by nearly 11 seconds.
Other local standouts were Cedartown's Will Pilgrim and the Bulldogs' 4x100 throwers' relay team. Pilgrim won the boys' shot put with a distance of 50-7 1/2 and took third in the discus at 130-1/2. The throwers' relay team won with a time of 50.11.
Bridges said that they will continue to promote and build up the Rome Relays, adding that the plan for next year is to expand it into a two-day event and include one day for college competition.