The Southwest DeKalb Panthers scored 77 points on the final day of the Class 4A Boys’ State Track and Field State Championships to climb their way to a second straight state track title in two different classifications at Hugh Mills Stadium in Albany on Saturday.
Three new state records came home to DeKalb County as the Panthers went from just four points over the first two days to total 81 to outduel Starr’s Mill (77.50) and Westminster (72.50) for the title. Westminster had won Southwest DeKalb’s Region 6-4A with 152 points with Southwest in third with 114 and fellow DeKalb entry Stephenson with 130.
Stephenson finished fifth in the state meet with 34 points with Miller Grove in 12th (22), Druid Hills tied for 34th (3) and Clarkston tied for 41st (1) in the standings.
The title came down to a showdown in the final race of the state meet, the 4×400-meter relay, as all the top three teams in the standings with an entry and the Panthers sitting in second with 71 points behind Starr’s Mill with 74.50 and Westminster with 68.50 in third.
Southwest DeKalb moved into second place behind Derrick Eskeridge’s five points in his fourth-place finish (1:55.27) in the 800-meter run to set up the final showdown in the 4×400-meter relay with the title on the line.
The Panthers team of Therrian Alexander III, Xzaviah Taylor, Xavier Turner and Isaiah Taylor closed out the title winning the race in a new state record time of 3:10.55 while Westminster finished fifth (3:20.87) and Starr’s Mill was sixth (3:21.38). Southwest DeKalb broke the record (3:13.21) of another Southwest DeKalb team set in 1987 by the foursome of Rodney Hooks, Kelly Carter, Hason Graham and Eddie Miller.
The 10 points pulled the Panthers into the title as Starr’s Mill picked up just three points to finish 3.5 points behind following the Panthers big rally on the day. It was also the third consecutive year for Southwest to win the 4×400-meter relay.
Southwest DeKalb’s 4×800-meter relay squad had scored the only points over the first two days of the meet finishing fifth (8:11.16) during the Friday final but senior Isaiah Taylor got the Panthers’ roll started in the first event on Saturday as he cruised to a .57 of a second win in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.70. It was his first gold in three tries at state to go with silver medals the past two seasons.
None of the top three teams in the final standings had a competitor in the 100-meter dash so the next big race came in the 4×200-meter relay. Southwest again gained on its competitors setting a new state record in the event of 1:25.13 with the team of Taylor Anderson, Xzaviah Taylor, Xavier Turner and Therrian Alexander III. It was the second consecutive run to the record for the group who set the mark of 1:26.32 in the prelims breaking the mark of 1:28.87 set by Monroe a year ago. It was a second consecutive win for the Panthers in the state event.
The next big event up for the Panthers was the 4×100-meter relay in which they finished second (8 points) and then a first and third in the 400-meter dash by Therrian Alexander III (46.84) and Xzaviah Taylor (47.24), respectively, pushed the teams’ point total to 48 points as they continued to climb the team standings. Alexander and Taylor both set personal bests in the race.
A one-two finish by the Taylor brothers in the 300-meter hurdles, including a new state record for Isaiah of 35.94 and Xzaviah in second at 37.78, had the Panthers sitting at 66 points and in the thick of the race for a second consecutive state title (the 2022 title was in Class 5A). Isaiah’s time in the 300 hurdles was the best in the U.S. this year. It was also his second consecutive gold medal in state competition.
The state title was the Panthers’ 12th overall and second consecutive including the Class 5A title in 2022.
Stephenson’s fifth place finish was fueled by two silver medals from senior Jace Coleman who finished second in both the 100-meter dash (10.44) and the 200-meter dash (21.30) and a bronze in the 4×400-meter relay (3:16.42). Coleman also finished runner-up in both events in 2022 and won silver in the 100 in 2021 for a total of five silver medals.
Miller Grove’s 12th place finish was keyed by the sweep of the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes by junior Ali Dargan. Dargan edged out Coleman by 0.08 of a second in the 100 with a time of 10:36. He then went on to set a new state record in the 200 with a time of 20.86 0.44 of a second ahead of Coleman as he swept the two races and gave DeKalb its fourth new state record of the meet.
See link below for the full 2023 DCSD State Track and Field Results: