Track and field concludes season at State
The LCHS track and field team had a bitter sweet conclusion to its 2019 season when Indian long jumper and 100 meter dash runner Conner Pierce represented the team at the GHSA State Track and Field Championship held in Albany, Ga. on Thursday to Saturday, May 9-11.
Pierce was the lone representative from the team at the state event, having qualified for State in both the boys long jump and the boys 100 meter dash at the sectional event held at East Jackson Comprehensive High School on Monday, May 6.
Pierce continued to show off his raw track and field skills when he took part in the boys long jump event at the State Championship. Despite not having much training or experience in competition in the event, Pierce was able to record a distance of 20’11.5” to earn himself a 12th place finish in the event.
Pierce then qualified for the finals in the boys 100 meter dash, making him the first male athlete to qualify for the State finals in the event since his brother, Austin Pierce. However, a scheduling mishap due to concerns about inclement weather cost Pierce the opportunity to run for a State championship title.
“They bumped up the track meet by two hours and I didn’t check the GHSA website beforehand and we found out too late to make it there on Saturday, so he wasn’t able to run,” said LCHS head track and field coach Chad Averett. “Very unfortunate and it’s never happened to me before. I take all the blame for this mistake and it’s unfortunate because it puts a damper on what had been a very successful season by the team.”
Despite not being able to compete in the finals, Pierce had a sensational senior season with the team, especially given the fact that he didn’t join the team until after the conclusion of the LCHS baseball team’s 2019 season.
Pierce finished seventh overall at Sectionals in the 100 meter dash, recording a time of 11.14 seconds, and eighth overall in the boys long jump, leaping a distance of 20 feet 2.25 inches (20’2.25”).
Although Pierce was the only Lumpkin athlete to advance to the State Championship, several LCHS track and field athletes performed well at Sectionals.
Roy Bennett earned an 11th place finish in the boys 110 meter hurdles and fellow teammate BoJack Dowdy finished right behind Bennett with a 12th place finish; the boys 4x100 relay team of Conner Pierce, Tanner Barber, Kyle Amburgey and Seth Fuller placed 11th; Lady Indian Chasen Wood earned a 13th place finish in the girls 200 meter dash; Caroline Rairigh finished 12th in the girls 800 meter run; the girls 4x100 team of Brighton Harder, Chloe Carver, Mercades Housman and Wood ran their way to a 12th place finish and Harder earned herself an 11th place finish in the girls long jump at the sectional event.
Despite the bitter sweet end to the season, Averett believes that the overall successes that the team saw this season should bode well for next year.
“This was a learning process for me as the head track coach here at Lumpkin,” Averett said. “I got to know the kids and I tried to figure out who could do what to be the best that we could be. I placed individuals in races and events throughout the season to find out what fit them best for their athletic ability. I was proud of the way we competed at region, especially the second day, which was the finals competition. Both 4 X 100 teams finished 3rd, which is a pretty good accomplishment for the region we are in and this set the tone for the rest of the team to follow throughout finals at region.”
With the team not having any female seniors and a host of young athletes ready to take over on the boys team, Averett believes that the future of the team is in good hands. Averett also believes that the male seniors on the team stepped up when they needed to this past season, setting a good example for next season’s returning members.
“We didn’t have any girl seniors this year but we had a large group of males that stepped up in their events and scored points for the team at the region meet,” Averett said. “The boys have a good nucleus of returning members to be very competitive next season but there needs to be an influx of those freshmen from the middle school track team for the high school track team to have continued success. The girls will have everyone back next season and if they stay healthy, could be a force to be reckoned with. I’m excited for these young ladies for next season.”
Averett said he enjoyed his first season at the helm of the team and was excited about the coachability of the team’s athletes.
“One thing about our track members is they do what is asked of them and they do it to the best of their ability,” Averett said. “I’ve enjoyed my first season here at Lumpkin and the future is really bright for this sport.”