ATLANTA - May 21, 2022 -- Georgia high school track and field athletes sprinted, hurdled and jumped to the top of the national and state rankings in a thrilling Wingfoot Night of Champions meet on Saturday night. The meet, held at Georgia Tech's Griffin Track, was headlined by the top two times in the United States in the boy's 300m hurdles. Fortunately, a strong headwind held off until after the event, which was billed as a matchup as two of the best in state history. That allowed for Malik Mixon and Isiah Taylor to give the fans what they came for. Mixon of Westlake ran neck and neck with Taylor of Southwest Dekalb with the pair crossing the line in 35.84 and 35.91 respectively. The times are the second and third best ever run in Georgia. For Taylor, it's a new personal best that breaks the Southwest Dekalb school record held by his father, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Angelo Taylor.
As Mixon and Taylor embraced at the end of the race, Taylor spotted his dad and cheerfully yelled, "I'm faster than you," as his proud father looked on.
While the wind prevented any other state leading or national times in the sprints, Dennarion Ard of Eagles Landing set a meet record of 10.49 (-1.3 m/s) in the 100m and Madison Gardiner of Banneker's 54.13 in the 400m was the third fastest time in Georgia this year.
Skyler Harrelson of Cherokee High School started the year committed to play softball in college. She ends her track and field season with a 20-1 mark in the long jump. It's the eighth best mark in the country this year. In her trackside interview with three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Gail Devers, Harrelson updated the crowd on her plans.
"I've decommitted to softball," she said as the crowd cheered, "and I've committed to track and field." Harrelson will compete for East Carolina University this fall.
As for top Georgia marks, there were plenty. Liv Bollenbacher of Cambridge won the girls pole vault competition with a state-leading jump of 12-10.25. Back on the track, Lyric Olson's (Savannah Arts Academy) 800m winning time of 2:09.49 puts her on the top of the state-best list.
Lots of hype surrounded the boy's 800m with Woodstock's Will Sumner who currently has the fastest time in the state (1:48.94) and was hoping to break 1:47 in only his second half mile of the season. But Sumner, who currently has the fastest time in the nation in the 400m, could only run 1:49.34 to win by more than three seconds. He now holds the two fastest Georgia times this season and his performance pulled runner-up Abedelemejid Kerebo of Tucker (1:52.62) and Matthew Fernando of Westminster (1:52.67) to the state's third and fourth fastest times this year.
Edward Blaha of Pace Academy ran Georgia's top time in the 3200m. Blaha and second place finisher Joey Sandel of Johnson Ferry Christian told coaches prior to the meet they were hoping to break nine minutes, but despite a 63 second last lap from Blaha, he crossed the line in 9:01.89, still a personal best.
And while they didn't deliver state or national leading times, the Wingfoot Night of Champions two marquee events, the Wingfoot Miles, delivered exciting finishes to the big crowd which came down from the stands and onto the track to cheer on the state's best milers. In the boy's race, Shiloh's Nathan Solomon ran a tactical 4:17.47 to claim victory on what will be his home track when he attends Georgia Tech in the fall. The girls race served as the grand finale with a pack of four girls, all state champions, swapping the lead for the first three laps. At the bell, 5A champ Lottie Chappell of North Springs moved the front to take the lead and dip under five for the first time with a finish of 4:59.88.
Full results for the Wingfoot Night of Champions can be found here.