The headline for the recent Walton County Track and Field Championships was the domination of the Loganville girls and boys teams, and deservedly so. Both easily outdistanced their local rivals.
But lost amidst the hoopla was the performance of a program that’s easy to overlook but certainly raised a few eyebrows.
Loganville Christian Academy has yet to establish itself as an athletic powerhouse. After spending most of its history bouncing around different associations, LCA finally gathered all of its programs under the banner of the Georgia High School Association this year.
As expected, it’s been a rocky road. The football team won just two games, which was two more than some expected. The basketball team (there’s no girls team) scratched out three victories and placed last in Region 8-A private.
The baseball team is still looking for its first win of 2021.
Needing a bit of positive news on the sports front, the Lions track teams certainly provided some.
On the surface, it might not sound like anything worth writing home about, or even filling up valuable column space. In a six-team field, the LCA boys tied Social Circle for fourth place and the girls finished fifth.
But a little perspective is necessary. The Lions were the smallest and least seasoned program among the local field. They have far fewer students to fill out a team and, given their relative lack of success so far in other sports, presumably less-talented athletes.
But you’d have never known it by their impressive showing.
Among the girls, three medaled (finished among the top four in their event). Particularly noteworthy was Ryley Hampton, who won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdle races.
The boys were even better as seven tracksters combined to medal in six events, including one gold and two silvers.
But it wasn’t so much that they placed in nearly half of the events but that they did so in several high-profile ones.
The sprints draw the most attention at track and field, and that’s where the Lions shined. Hunter Hampton, the team’s unofficial MVP, finished runner-up in the 100-meter dash. He then anchored the 4x100 and 4x400 teams, which each placed fourth.
The 4x800 team outdid them all. The quartet of Tegan Swanepoel, Christopher Morton, Luke Evans, and Caleb Gary brought home the school’s first county title.
Looks like head football coach Tim Wellmaker has some speed to draw on to fill up next year’s roster.
While their performance at the county meet was impressive, the Lions’ biggest test will be in its own region.
Athens Christian hasn’t been consistently competitive in other sports, but its track teams are arguably the best in the state in Class A. Over a recent nine-year stretch, the Eagles won six state titles.
The Lions may have a long way to go before they can soar with the Eagles, but they did prove they can run with the big dogs.