ATLANTA -- May 19, 2022 - Champions will be crowned at Georgia's most exclusive and most competitive high school track and field meet Saturday. Fields are set across 14-disciplines for the second annual Wingfoot Night of Champions which will be held at the Griffin Track on the Georgia Tech campus.
The meet features six athletes currently ranked in the top 10 nationally in their event and 109 state champions, many who will face each other head-to-head for the first time in this meet that decides the state's best athletes regardless of their classification.
In a meet where nearly every athlete is a region or state champion, the Wingfoot Night of Champions highlights Georgia as one of the best states for high school track and field in the country. Will Sumner, a senior at Woodstock High School has run the fastest 400m time by any high school boy in the United States this season. His 45.78 run at this month's GHSA 7A State Championship is also the fastest time in Georgia history. But Sumner, the defending Wingfoot Night of Champions 400m champion, is entered in the 800m on Saturday. Despite only racing the event once in 2022, his 1:48.94 is ranked fifth in the nation this year.
"I am really confident after setting the state record in the 400", said Sumner, who is committed to the University of Georgia. "My training has prepared me for this and I'm confident that I can go under 1:47 on Saturday night." Sumner currently holds the Georgia high school state record in the 800m. The national high school record of 1:46.45 has stood since 1996.
Kayla Pinkard, a senior at Carrollton High School, comes to the Wingfoot Night of Champions ranked third nationally in the triple jump. Pinkard has a personal best of 42-5.75 which is the second best all-time performance in Georgia. This season, she has jumped 40-11.5 to win the GHSA 6A State Championship last month. It's the same distance she jumped at last year's Wingfoot Night of Champions to win the event, but she hopes to break 43 on Saturday.
"Going into the event this weekend, I feel great," said Pinkard, who will attend Florida State University next year. "It's another opportunity to step on the runway and do what I love."
The race of the meet could be the 300m hurdles which will be a showdown between three of the fastest Georgia boys in history, Isaiah Taylor, a junior at Southwest Dekalb, and Malik Mixon, a senior at Westlake. Taylor, the son of two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Angelo Taylor, ran 36.56 to win the GHSA 5A State Championship last month. It's the fourth fastest time in Georgia history and also the sixth fastest time in the country this year. On the same day, Mixon, who will run at the University of Southern California in the fall, ran 36.60 in the 6A State Championship and took the fifth spot on the Georgia all-time list. Mixon also holds the eighth fastest time in the United States this year. Saturday will be the first time the pair faces off. Christion Barker of Shiloh could be the spoiler in this race. The senior finished a disappointing seventh in the 6A state meet, but his personal best of 36.75 puts him 11th on the state's all-time list and in contention with Taylor and Mixon.
In the field events, the marquee competition is a rematch between the country's 9th and 10th ranked boys in the discus. Josh Dare, a senior at Creekside, has thrown 199-0 this season, the farthest of any Georgia thrower and ninth best in the United States. But, the Mississippi College recruit was defeated at the state meet by New Manchester Senior Seth Allen. The Purdue University-bound thrower has thrown 198-0 this season and is the defending discus champion at Wingfoot Night of Champions. Dare and Allen are currently ranked fourth and fifth all time in Georgia. Saturday, they will both try to become the fourth and fifth Georgia throwers to break the 200 barrier.
A Georgia high jumper could move into the U.S. top 10 as three athletes who have jumped 6-10 this season will be attempting to break seven feet. Silas Griffin of Northwest Whitfield, Ashriel Dixon of East Paulding and Dylan Faulkner, the 5A State Champion from Calhoun will make for an exciting show at the high jump pit. Griffin and Dixon were second and third respectively at last year's meet.
And the Wingfoot Mile could end with several girls breaking five minutes. Led by 3A State Champion Palmer Walstad of Westminster, the field for the meet's penultimate event also includes 7A State Champion Samantha McGarity (Harrison), 5A State Champion Lottie Chappel (North Springs) and 2A State Champion Caroline Hood (Pace). The top four girls dipped under five at last year's meet. None are returning this year, but Walstad got to take notes on how it was done as she placed fifth.