“I told them to do what they’ve done all year long — go out and give it your best shot and whatever happens is going to happen,” Owen said. “The expectations are the same. If you win, that’s great. If you don’t, it’s fine if you’ve given it the best you have.”
The reward for finishing in the top eight is a trip to the state meet May 3-5 at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany, Ga.
Two-time Region 4-AAA girls champion Spalding High has a large contingent of athletes headed to sectionals today beginning with individual regions champions Dominique Nock (100-meter dash), Chadneeshia Arnold (discus) and Mary Owen Howell (pole vault).
Region runner-ups from Spalding who will also be making the trip this morning include: Dee Dee Matthews (triple jump), Nykerria Conley (pole vault) and Grenishia Daniel (300-meter hurdles) as well as Nock (long jump and 200-meter dash).
Third-place finishers at region who will be competing today include: Blair Dunaway (1600-meter run) and Stephanie Estrada (3200-meter run) in addition to the 4x100 and 4x400 relay team of Nock, Daniel, Veronica Anderson and Shaquoria Reid as well as Dunaway.
SHS’s lone fourth-place finishers from last week’s region meet who will compete is Jordan Tapley (3200-meter run). Daniel also grabbed an alternate spot in the 400-meter run when two other athletes ahead of her at region said they would be unable to compete in today’s state qualifier.
“I’m excited about watching them compete against the other best athletes from the other three regions,” said Owen, whose team will compete in a Sectional meet for Region 4-AAA, 5-AAA, 6-AAA and 7-AAA — the teams from the northern half of the state. “I think our side of the sectionals is tougher.”
It’s the state’s first year holding sectionals. In the past, the top two performers in each event at region advance directly to the state meet. This year the top four performers in each event at region advance to sectionals where the top eight advance to the state meet.
“It’s good in the sense that a lot of kids that wouldn’t have finished first or second — but had a better time than someone going to state — are going to have a chance to go to state now,” said Owen. “But it’s bad in now that all of those schools in south Georgia that always managed to have one or two go to state are going to have a difficult time getting anyone to state, it really is now.”
For Owen and her athletes, it all comes back to performing today.
“It’s like I told the girls this morning, ‘I can print out the sheets and look at everyone’s time or distance, but it doesn’t matter when we go out there tomorrow — everyone’s back to zero,’” Owen said at Friday’s practice. “All they use the times and distances for are lane assignments or flights. But it doesn’t matter. Everyone is starting over.”