Lady Devils win first region track title since 2010

Apr. 19—TIFTON — For the last year, Tift County head track and field coach J.C. Clark said he told his teams they could do it. Thursday, the Lady Devils did it, winning the Region 1-6A championship.

Though they finished fourth in the region in 2023, Clark said he could see it coming, both with the athletes returning and with who was coming up from middle school.

"It's unreal right now," said Clark. "Four years ago, I told this freshman group, if they stuck with it — we got second place, second place, fourth place," he said of the last three years of results at region. "I said, 'What we have coming back, and what we had coming in', the ninth graders, they played a big part."

Tift had several newcomers, too. "They were a big part of this puzzle," Clark said.

The Lady Devils finished at 145 points. Lee County and Veterans tied for second at 142. Houston was fourth at 124. The Blue Devils were fourth overall Thursday at 99 points, trailing Houston (163), Veterans (157) and Northside of Warner Robins (115). Six teams are in 1-6A.

Over the two days, the Lady Devils won five events and were runners-up in four more. The region crown was the first for any Tift track team since 2012 and the first for the Lady Devils since 2010.

Tift won their title with expected — and unexpected — performances.

Illiana Cleveland broke the school record in the 800 meters at 2:25, an event she won in a surprising runaway. Cleveland made her move to the front at the end of the first lap, then continued to pull away to win by 6.5 seconds.

Clark noted Burgess set TCHS' record in the 100 at 12.18 seconds. Burgess was third in the event.

Field events were staged Tuesday, the Lady Devils winning two of them, going 1-2 in the high jump. Burgess cleared 5 feet to win, with Makayla Bryant second at 4-10.

Bailee Williams was first for the third consecutive year in shot put. Her first throw was her longest, an even 40 feet. Williams threw four times and scratched twice. The throws that counted were the four longest of any female competitor.

Diamond Wallace was second in long jump at 16-7. Nairobi Graham had a pair of second places, the 200 in 24.93 seconds, and the 400 in 55.66.

Besides the individual events, the girls 4x100 team won in 47.9 seconds. In Tuesday finals, the 4x800 team placed first in 1:44 and the 4x800 was third at 11:27.

Antonio Burgess leaned in at the finish to win the 110 hurdles for Tift in 14.96 seconds. His was the only first place for the Devils over the two days. They were second in three events.

Jalon Miller placed second in the 400 Thursday in 50.15 seconds. The 4x400 team fell at the wire to Houston, 3:29.62 to 3:29.76. Tuesday, Anthony Pace was one of two athletes to clear 11 feet in pole vault, but the tiebreaker meant Pace earned second place in the event.

Those finishing in the top four advance to sectionals. Everyone in the top eight for Tift are:

Girls 100: Burgess (3rd) and Wallace (6th).

Girls 100 hurdles: Lily Bruce (4th) and Aziyah Lockett (7th).

Boys 110 hurdles: Burgess (1st) and Jordan Gaskins (3rd).

Boys 300 hurdles: Gaskins (3rd) and Burgess (7th).

Girls 300 hurdles: Mackenzie Holiday (5th) and A'Myriona McTear (7th).

Girls 200: Graham (2nd).

Boys 400: Miller (2nd) and Marshall Howard (7th).

Girls 400: Graham (2nd).

Boys 800: Jabari Jones (6th).

Girls 800: Cleveland (1st) and Dinae Robinson (8th).

Girls 1,600: Ava Wilson (7th).

Girls 3,200: Lola Reynolds (7th) and Wilson (8th).

Boys 4x100: 4th.

Girls 4x100: 1st.

Boys 4x200: 4th.

Girls 4x200: 1st.

Boys 4x400: 2nd.

Girls 4x400: 4th.

Boys 4x800: 5th.

Girls 4x800: 3rd.

Boys discus: Avery Clark (7th).

Girls discus: Williams (3rd), Akele Brown (5th) and Debraysia Doward (8th).

Boys high jump: Ahmadre Woods (4th) and Jamari Johnson (6th).

Girls high jump: Burgess (1st), Bryant (2nd) and Bruce (5th).

Boys long jump: Zamorian Brown (5th) and Taylan Morrow (8th).

Girls long jump: Wallace (2nd), McTear (6th) and Myanna Walton (8th).

Boys pole vault: Pace (2nd) and Jaxson Hughes (5th).

Girls shot put: Williams (1st) and Trinity Parker (4th).

Boys triple jump: Trendon Miller (3rd), Kamari Holloman (5th) and Shurrod Rich (6th).