The Region 7-AAAA track championships got underway Monday morning at Southeast Whitfield High School and while each event had spectators watching, the boys' shot put had a few extra eyes on it as Logan Montgomery's throws have become something of a can't miss event, even when he's just warming up.
And while the Ridgeland junior came up a little less than two feet shy of setting a new personal record (58-feet, 3-inches, set at an event over the weekend), he still managed to outdistance runner-up Patrick Gardner of Cedartown (45-5) by a full 11 feet, drawing a few ooh's, ahh's, low whistles and chuckling headshakes from some of those watching.
With multiple throws that landed at the very back of the pit and/or literally bounced out of the pit, Montgomery didn't get his personal record, but settled for breaking his own school record with a winning mark of 56-5. It was also one of the top 10 longest throws in the state this season, according to stats complied by Ga.Milesplit.com.
Montgomery is also the overwhelming favorite to win the region title in the discus on Tuesday, the final day of the region meet.
Heritage's Jonathan Washburn is also headed to the Class AAAA sectionals at North Oconee High School as his throw of 43-4.5 was good enough for fourth place and the final qualifying spot for sectionals. Ridgeland's Cade Dunn set a personal best with a throw of 42-3.75 to finish seventh.
Montgomery's win was the only field event victory for either the Ridgeland or Heritage boys on the first day of the meet.
Eli Owens qualified for sectionals in the high jump with a mark of 6-0. He finished fourth behind Northwest Whitfield's Silas Griffin, the event winner at 6-4, while Owens' teammate Griffin Black cleared 5-4 to finish seventh.
In the boys' triple jump, Griffin also won with a mark of 43-2. Ridgeland's Seth Wingo (40-5) set a new personal best and picked up the fourth and final state sectional qualifying spot. Heritage's Jared Phillips finished fifth, but also set a personal mark of 40-4.
On the girls' side, Tayler Coleman led a solid morning for the Lady Generals' discus throwers. Coleman reached a personal best distance of 96-1 to place third, while Abby Scott also had a PR of 95-4 to earn fourth place. Avah Morrison finished fifth, also with a new personal best of 91-8. They all trailed Central-Carroll's Kayli Miller, who won the event at 100-10.5.
Heritage also had three competitors score points with top eight finishes in the girls' long jump. Riley Kokinda was fourth with a personal best of 15-10.5. Aaliyah Rodgers hit 14-9 to finish sixth and Gracie Murray jumped 14-7 to finish in a seventh place with a personal record. Cedartown's Makayla Jordan won the event at 16-5.
And in the girls' pole vault, two more Lady Generals set new personal best marks. Paige Monroe cleared 7-0 to finish third and Caroline Hamilton cleared 6-0 to finish seventh. Central's Em Jones won the region title at 7-6.
The boys and girls' 1600-meter finals were also run on Monday with Heritage runners finishing runner-up in both races.
Allison Craft used a nice finishing kick over the last 100 meters to place second with a personal best of 5:45.49. She trailed only Pickens' Bekah Wise 5:39.61, while Alexis Faul was eighth for Heritage at 6:37.25.
In the boys' 1600, Gavin Chandler crossed the line in 4:36.05 to finish in second place behind Pickens' Seth White (4:27.02). Davis Justice also set a new personal mark at 5:02.66 to earn eighth-place points for the Generals.
Central and Heritage have pulled away from the rest of the field after Monday's action. The Lady Lions amassed 58 points, while the Lady Generals' 42 points are easily ahead of Northwest Whitfield (19), while the rest of the standings feature Cedartown (13), Pickens (12) and Southeast (11). Ridgeland has yet to score.
The boys' standings are still wide open going into the final day of the meet with Central (33) holding a narrow lead over Heritage (27), Northwest (26), Cedartown (24) and Pickens (24). Ridgeland (17) is currently sixth and Southeast (5) is seventh.
The rest of the field events will be held on Tuesday, beginning at 11 a.m. Preliminaries in the remaining running events were also held on Monday with the finals slated for tomorrow. The 3200-meter races will not have preliminaries and runners will compete in the finals tomorrow.