Then came the team’s breakthrough victory last season when SHS scored 128 1/2 points to win by an astounding 24 1/2 points. Saturday the team might have done something even more impressive — repeated as region champs during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
“When the season started I was the only one who thought these kids could do it,” said Owen, who molded and reshaped her team one practice and one meet at a time.
Led by high-point winner Dominique Nock, the results were obvious Saturday as Spalding High scored 134 1/2 points to outdistance their nearest competitor in the nine-school field, Sandy Creek, by 12 1/2 points in the year’s Region 4-AAA meet at Sandy Creek High School.
Spalding, which held a 17 1/2-point lead over the host team going into the final day, had to overcome some adversity early, when one of its runners in the first event of the day was flagged for raising her hand in the starting block and another was disqualified two events later, in the 800, for moving her hand in the starting blocks.
“I always told them when the chips are on the line, it’s time for the tough to get going,” said Owen.
The team responded admirably.
First Spalding’s 4x100 relay of Nock, Grenishia Daniel, Shaquoria Reid and Veronica Anderson ran a 49.16 to place third.Then Blair Dunaway (6:01.94) and Stephanie Estrada (6:13.44) posted finishes of third and sixth place, respectively, in the 1600-meter run before a sixth-place run of 1:06.36 by Daniel in the 400.
Daniel had to be helped off the field by two teammates after pulling a leg muscle during the run.
Nock followed with a first-place run of 12.21 in the 100-meter dash, while teammate Shaquoria Reid (12.88) scored two more team points with a seventh-place finish in the same event. SHS did not have a runner qualify for the finals in the 110-hurdles, but Dunaway (2:41.53) and Jasmine Bradley (2:46.06) kept the team rolling along with fifth and seventh-place finishes, respectively, in the 800-meter run as Spalding held a 13 1/2-point lead over second-place Sandy Creek and a 17 1/2-point lead over third-place Eastside-Covington through the 800.
Nock (25.52) and Anderson (26.21) ran to second and fifth-place finishes, respectively in the 200 as Spalding kept the heat on the rest of the field. Then came the performance of the day for Spalding, a runner-up finish by Daniel (46.97) in the 300-meter hurdles — despite the pulled muscle.
The run left Spalding only needing 1 team point in the final event of the day, the 4x400, to clinch the title — a statistical probability since Spalding had two 4x400 relay teams in the finals. Sandy Creek, which had only one 4x400 relay team in the finals, placed second. Spalding’s relay team of Nock, Reid, Daniel and Anderson (4:08.22) placed third, while their team of Bradley, Tykira Griffin, Sydney Flatt and Dee Dee Matthews (4:32.04) placed sixth.
The final girls team standings included Spalding (134.5) in first, followed by: Sandy Creek (122), Eastside-Covington (101), Eagle’s Landing (92), Drew (73), Henry County (25 1/2), Jackson (20), Stockbridge (20) and Locust Grove (16).
The top four finishers in each event now advance to sectionals April 26-28 in Carrollton where they will be looking to qualify for state May 10-12 at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany.
In the boys standings on Saturday, Sandy Creek (171) finished first followed by: Drew (101), Eagle’s Landing (96), Eastside-Covington (61), Henry County (48), Locust Grove (47), Stockbridge (43), Jackson (32) and Spalding (11).