Gor­don Lee stand­outs named Track Ath­letes of the Year.

Ad­di­son Whitman (Sr.), Gor­don Lee Nathaniel Wright (Sr.), Gor­don Lee Drew Cobb (Sr.), Gor­don Lee

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - By Scott Herpst

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.

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