Originally created 05/12/02

Washington-Wilkes triumphs



JEFFERSON, Ga. - The memory wouldn't go away for Washington-Wilkes' Kenderous Wylie.

He constantly thought about what happened during the 2001 Georgia High School Association Track and Field Championships. He thought about it while he trained this spring, and he thought about it Friday night when he couldn't fall asleep in his Winder, Ga., hotel room.

A year had passed, but for Wylie, the wound was still fresh.

After all, how could he forget about losing the state championship to Crim by a single point? It wasn't possible, so he didn't even try to put it out of his mind.

Instead, he and his Tigers teammates decided Saturday at Memorial Stadium to make newer, sweeter memories.

With Wylie and Quincey Felix leading the way, Washington-Wilkes scored 82 points to demolish the rest of the competition and win its first Class AA state title since 1986.

Wylie won the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.67 seconds, while Felix was victorious in the 110-meter hurdles.

For Wylie, the Class AA high points winner (24.5 points), the demons of last season finally were exorcised.

"We thought about it all year, and we knew Crim would be good this year," said Wylie, who joined Felix, Jefferson County's Dantavius Harmon (Class AAA 100), Evans' Roy Cheney (Class AAAAA 110 and 300 hurdles) and Butler's Willie Green (Class AAAA 100) as area individual title winners. "We really wanted to beat them."

The Tigers' victory was assured just four events into Saturday's final day of competition.

With Richard Cook winning Thursday's shot put title and Antonio Mercier finishing third in the shot put and second in the discus, Washington-Wilkes entered Saturday with an 18-point lead over East Laurens and Greater Atlanta Christian.

The Tigers then won the 400-meter relay, while Crim - the only team that could conceivably catch them - dropped the baton and was disqualified. With Felix's win in the 110 hurdles, the meet, for the most part, was complete.

"The relay was a big point swing," said Washington-Wilkes coach Larry Milligan, whose team beat second-place Crim 82-50. "Had that not happened, we would have had to push a lot harder. But when that happened, we had a heck of a lot more comfort. The rest of our day was great."

Jefferson County's Harmon felt the same way, although he wasn't sure who had won the 100 until his name was called at the awards ceremony.

Locked in a tight battle with Carrollton's Derrell Johnson as they approached the finish, both leaned at the tape. Afterward, Johnson said he thought Harmon had beaten him, while Harmon said he thought Johnson's 3-inch afro had edged him.

The result: a tie at the tape and co-title winners.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw him go by," said Harmon, who took a fifth-place finish in the 200. "I thought he might have gotten me by his hair. But it's good, because I'm just a sophomore, and I finished well against more experienced athletes."

The experience of Green and Cheney, both seniors, certainly paid off for them. Green easily won the 100 with a 10.84, and Cheney claimed Evans' first-ever individual title with wins in the 110 hurdles (14.23) and the 300 hurdles (a personal-best 36.91).

"I did what I came to do," Cheney said. "I was really nervous in the 110, because of the headwind. Everybody expected me to come here and win something, so after I won the 110, it seemed like a lot of pressure was lifted off me."

Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or josh.katzowitz@augustachronicle.com.