Gordon Lee standouts named Track Athletes of the Year.
Addison Whitman (Sr.), Gordon Lee Nathaniel Wright (Sr.), Gordon Lee Drew Cobb (Sr.), Gordon Lee
The move back down to the Class A Public School level proved to be a boon for Gordon Lee High School athletics during the 2016-17 school year, but perhaps no teams benefitted more from reclassification than the Trojans and Lady Trojans’ track teams.
Both teams produced outstanding results all season long, especially at the end of the year. Gordon Lee swept the Area 3-A championships and went on to finish high at the state meet. The Trojans took home the state runner-up trophy after getting passed in the team standings in the final event, while the Lady Trojans placed fourth overall.
Nearly everyone on the roster contributed in some way, but a few, in particular, stood out.
Today, three of those senior standouts are being honored as the 2017 Walker County Track Athletes of the Year - Addison Whitman, this year’s Female Track Athlete of the Year, along with Nathaniel Wright and Drew Cobb, who are splitting the Male Track Athlete of the Year award.
To say it was a great senior year for Whitman would be something of an understatement.
The athletic Whitman began her year by being named one of the 16 finalists for Georgia Cheerleader of the Year and she helped the school’s competition squad win a state title for the first time. She later tried out for and was selected to be a cheerleader at the University of Georgia before turning her attentions to her senior year on the track.
“It feels really good,” Whitman said of the Female Track Athlete of the Year award.
Whitman went undefeated in the pole vault this season, including at the Southeast Whitfield Invitational, the Gordon Lee Invitational, another six-team meet at Southeast, and the area, sectionals and state meets.
She reached 9-feet in the event several times during the year, but most notably at the state finals.
She also swept the pole vault and the 400 in a home meet against LFO and Dade County, was third in the Area 3-A meet in the 400, took eighth in the 400 at state sectionals and eventually placed seventh in the state in the event. Whitman was also part of successful Lady Trojans’ teams in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
“This year was been really, really good,” she said. “I had a lot of first and secondplace finishes and this is probably the most supportive team I think I’ve ever been on. We always cheered each other on and that always helps. We practiced hard together and really pushed each other. It was a really good season.”
Cobb began his final year in Chickamauga on the gridiron, where he turned in arguably the greatest season for a running back in the long and storied history of the program.
He finished the regular season as the state’s secondleading rusher - in all classifications - running 220 times for 1,761 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. He also
added 314 yards in receiving and five more scores, made over 90 tackles as a defensive back and was named first team All-State. Those figures also earned him Walker County Offensive Player of the Year honors.
In the spring, he moved to the track and turned in another solid season with numerous top four finishes in the pole vault, long jump, triple jump and the 4x100, despite competing against bigger schools at most meets.
He swept the pole vault and the 100 in a home meet against LFO and Dade County, was first in the pole vault at the Gordon Lee Invitational and also won the Southeast Whitfield Invitational in the triple jump in his first-ever attempt in the event. He went on to score two second-place medals and a thirdplace medal at the Area 3-A championships.
That third-place showing came after a less-than-stellar 7-feet, 6-inch effort with a new pole. However, he rebounded nicely to clear 13-feet at both sectionals and at state, winning both meets.
“We had a pretty good year as a team,”
he said. “As a pole vaulter, it wasn’t exactly my best year. It started out pretty rough, but it ended up pretty nice.”
Cobb also gave credit to teammate Braden Jarvis for helping push him in the pole vault. Jarvis, a rising senior, was in his first season in the event and finished second to Cobb at state with a mark of 12-feet.
“He came out here and gave me some competition and I think it really helped both of us,” Cobb added. “My senior year was everything I wanted and everything I worked for.”
Wright ran a leg on the Trojans’ 4x100 relay team, but his main
focus was the high jump where he tried to keep the family tradition going.
His cousin Greg Mays won back-to-back Class A high jump titles some 15 years ago before moving on jump at the University of Georgia. Meanwhile, another cousin, Kasey Mays, was a three-time region champion on the girls’ side, who had two top-four state finishes during her years at Gordon Lee.
“I’m always trying to look up to Greg and Kasey because they were always really good at the high jump in high school,” Wright said. “I just looked toward them and my high jump coach
I’ve been working with all year, Eric Bishop (an NCAA outdoor champ at North Carolina). He’s been helping me throughout the whole process to get better.”
After tying for 10th at last year’s Class AA state meet, Wright had a big-time senior season. He won a six-team meet at Southeast Whitfield, took first at the Gordon Lee Invitational and was third at the Southeast Whitfield Invitational.
He jumped 5-foot10 to win the Area 3-A championship and cleared 6-feet to take second at sectionals. Then in May, he had a season-best mark of 6-foot-2 to win the Class A Public School state crown.
“You plan to win and you want to win (state), but you also know you’re facing some good competition down there,” he said. “I knew I had to be at my best that day, plus it was really hot, but I just got warmed up and went out to do the best I could.
“When I won it felt great. I was really excited and I was trying to stay calm, but I was excited.”
Next up for Wright will be college, where he plans to first attend Dalton State in preparation for what he hopes will be a future at veterinary school at Georgia.