The Calhoun High track program has built a strong tradition over the years, boasting team and individual region championships on almost a yearly basis. The Jackets simply weren’t going to let that tradition change with the recent move to Class AAAAA.

Calhoun hosted the Region 7-AAAAA Meet on Monday and Thursday and stepped up to the challenge against some top competition with several impressive performances. The end result was a region title for the Calhoun Boys, who fought for every single point they earned to edge out Blessed Trinity for the top spot in the region standings and the chance to raise the region championship trophy.

The race for the top spot came down to the final few events with the Jackets finishing strong to hold off a talented Blessed Trinity team. Calhoun head coach Brant Murry said his team had a few questions coming into the season, but that didn’t stop them from putting in the work like they usually do in order to compete for the region title.

“Going up to Class AAAAA, there were a lot of unknowns,” said Murry. “We haven’t competed against several of the teams in our region, and there were others that we haven’t seen in a few years. No matter what the unknowns were, we didn’t change what we did as far as preparing these kids the same way. We knew we had to work even harder because we were going to be facing better competition. That’s exactly what this region was. There are a lot of state champions in this region in my opinion. I think this is the toughest region in Class AAAAA. Our kids performed well. I’m very proud of the way our team competed. We fought hard. It came down to the last event, and that’s what you compete for and coach for.”

The Jackets finished with 176 total points to take first, just three ahead of second-place Blessed Trinity. Cartersville rounded out the top three with 119 points, and Hiram (85), Woodland (50) and Cass (45) completed the team scoring.

The Calhoun Boys were led by Dylan Faulkner and Carson Griffin, who each won two individual region titles. Faulkner took the top spot in both the high jump (6-02) and pole vault (13-06), and Griffin won both the shot put (47-04) and discus (147-02).

Also earning a region title for the Jackets was Felipe Barrios in the 800 meter with a time of 1:59.11.

Other top-four finishes for Calhoun to earn a berth to Class AAAAA Sectionals came from Cole Speer in the 100 meter dash (fourth, 11.16), Barrios in the 1600 meter (third, 4:25.98) and 3200 meter (second, 9:43.76), Quin Smith in the 110 meter hurdles (second, 15.28), the 4x100 meter relay team of Speer, Smith, Dustin Kerns and Jaylan Harris (second, 43.35), Harris in the high jump (second, 6-00), Owen Goble in the pole vault (second, 11-00), Blaze Hammett in the triple jump (third, 40-03), Faulkner in the shot put (second, 45-02), Kendrick Kirby in the shot put (third, 44-06) and Lex Walraven in the discus (third, 131-11).

The Calhoun Lady Jackets also had a strong showing at the region meet, finishing third in the team standings with 106 points, behind first-place Blessed Trinity (173.5) and second-place Woodland (133.5). Cartersville (85), Cass (83) and Hiram (54) completed the team standings.

“I was honest with our girls after today’s meet when I told them I didn’t expect them to finish in the top three,” said Murry. “We had a lot of talented girls graduate last year, and the key returners this year we knew would be strong but we didn’t have a lot of girls that were going to win a lot of events. We knew we would have to nickel and dime some points in multiple places. Those points add up and kept us competitive in meets, and that was our identity. These girls embraced that kind of strategy, and we are now taking a lot of girls to Sectionals after this week’s performances. I couldn’t be prouder of our girls team.”

The Lady Jackets were led by Malysha Winston who earned a pair of individual region titles by winning the shot put (36-02.25) and the discus (99-06). Esperanza Reyes was also a top finisher for Calhoun as she won the triple jump with a 31-04.5.

Other Sectionals-qualifying performances for the Lady Jackets came from Lauren Watson in the 400 meter dash (fourth, 1:05.24), the 4x400 meter relay team of Watson, Makenzie Cumbee, Ashley Jaramillo and Anna Gibson (third, 4:28.13), the 4x800 meter relay team of Gibson, Jaramillo, Teresa Nguyen and Angeles Jimenez (fourth, 11:50.49), Emma Rogers in the triple jump (third, 30-00) and Jabria Printup in the shot put (third, 31-08) and the discus (third, 87-09).

The Calhoun Boys and Girls will now prepare for the Class AAAAA Sectionals Meet, which will be held at Starr’s Mill High on May 8. Murry said he is excited to take a large group of qualifiers to Sectionals and is confident in their chances of punching their tickets to the Class AAAAA State Meet in Carrollton.

“I think we’ve got the toughest region in Class AAAAA, and the results speak for themselves,” said Murry. “We know Class AAAAA as a whole has some really good competition, but we still like our chances of sending a lot of kids to Carrollton. I think a lot of our athletes have the potential to medal at State too. Our kids take coaching well and continue working hard and try to better themselves.”

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