STOCKBRIDGE — There’s plenty to be optimistic about for the Henry County boys’ and girls’ high school track and field teams for the 2022 season.
This is especially true for the 15 individual teams representing 10 different schools that placed in their respective rankings at last year’s GHSA State Athletics Championships.
Those teams were among those representing eight of the county’s 10 schools at Media Day earlier this month at the Fairview Performing Arts Center.
dutchtown produced two of those state placers a year ago, and fifth-year coach Calvin Gibson has high hopes and expectations for both.
The Bulldog boys welcome seven seniors from a team that ranked eighth in the Class AAAAA team standings in the state a year ago, including Malik Smith, who placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles at last year’s state meet, and Garrison Madden, a state usher in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
Meanwhile, the girls welcome back six seniors from last year’s 31st-place team, led by sprinters Gabriella Smith and Ansley Guy, the latter of whom placed fifth in the 200 last year.
AT Hampton, coach Mark Myers’ team goal is simply to “win the day”, taking things one day at a time.
The Hornet girls, who placed 16th as a team in the AAAA class last year, will look to sophomore runner Hailey Love, as well as Paris Thomas, to lead the way.
Meanwhile, senior pitcher Brandon Bogle and distance runner Braylon Hicks return to lead the men’s team.
Like Dutchtown, Luela has two teams that placed at the AAAA State Meet last year, with the men’s team taking 15th place and the girls finishing tied for 24th place.
Unlike the Bulldogs, the Lions are focused on building numbers, with each team expecting 20 athletes to come out for their teams in 2022.
Senior Davonte Jackson is back to set the tone for the men’s team in the hurdles, while the girls should be boosted by leaders like seniors Jaeva Ridley in the 200m and middle distance and Kameron Noble in the 200m , 400m and relay.
AT McDonough, girls coach Michael Clarington and boys coach Danny Buggs will look to build on the progress of 2021 this spring.
The Warhawk boys are bringing back some big contributors from a team that ranked 21st in the state last year, including senior Esa Short, who placed fifth in the triple jump and long jump at the state, Richard Baugh III, also fifth in the standings. high jumper and pitcher Nicholas Wright.
the Whoa the boys are also looking to build on the momentum of a state ranking season from 2021 after finishing tied for 18th in the AAAAA class.
The Mustangs should have good leadership in almost every area, with sprinter Micah Bell, distancer CJ Estrada and pitcher Khristian Kelly all returning.
The girls will also feature a trio of senior captains with the return of pole vaulter Hope Mask and sprinters Jada Jenkins and Jaida Jenkins.
the Stockbridge the girls are coming off a huge 2021 campaign after placing 11th in the AAAAAA class state meet.
And with competitors like Vanderbilt-hired senior pitcher Ja’el Dunn, who ranked third statewide in the shot put and fourth in the discus a year ago, back, the Tigers could feel their presence again this spring.
The men’s team will also have a senior leader to lean on in middle-distance specialist Akari Shaw.
Both Union GroveThe teams return for 2022 after strong showings at the Class AAAAA state meeting a year ago.
The Wolverine girls are expected to be particularly strong in the distance events this spring, with the return of the seniors Gaby Parsons, last year’s 4-AAAAA region champion and state runner-up in the 800, and Carson Brantley, an All-State performer in the 1600 for a team that ranked 12th in state.
The boys, who posted a 36th place finish, should be paced by Quentin Peterson in the throwing events.
Woodland is another school with two returning teams from last year, with the girls tied for 12th with Union Grove and the boys finishing 25th.
The boys lost a pair of state champions from last year but have several key athletes back, such as D’Anthony Smotherman, Michael Willis and Joshua Roberts, while Skylin Freeman leads the top comebacks for the Wolfpack girls .