By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
HINESVILLE – Is there a bull’s-eye on University of Miami-bound Candace Kieffer? The Effingham County standout distance runner shrugs off any extra motivation her major college signing might give competitors.
“I like to think we’re all friends, but obviously there’s some friendly competition,” said Kieffer at the Region 2-AAAAAA Track and Field Championships. “Everybody wants to win, but I don’t think any of the rivalries are toxic.”
Of course, if there was a bull’s-eye it would have to be on Kieffer’s back — the view most foes inevitably see while trying to catch the senior. Kieffer led from start to finish to win a region title in the 1600-meter run at Bradwell Institute on April 20.
Kieffer also had a second-place finish in the 3200 at region.
The top four finishers at the region meet earned a spot at Sectional A (for Region 1,2,3,4 qualifiers) in Valdosta on May 7.
The top eight in both Sectional A and Sectional B (Region 5,6,7,8 qualifiers) advance to the Class AAAAAA state meet.
“I’m having some mental block with my (1600) times. I’ve run a lot slower (this year),” Kieffer said. “Some of that has been the conditions. It’s been really hot or really cold. I know I can do better.”
Kieffer won the 1600 at region with a time of 5:22.86 and her 11:54.57 in the 3200 was second. She has the nine best 1600 times in school history and 17 best times in the 3200.
Her 1600 school record (5:14.69) came at Savannah Country Day last year. Her 3200 record (11:30.75) was in the rain at the Plankenhorn Meet in March.
Other local runners shined at this year’s region meet. Kieffer’s teammate Kalyce Watson captured the triple jump title with a 33-8 — 14 inches farther than she had jumped this season.
South Effingham’s Aubrey Edge won the pole vault by tying her school record with a 9-6 – the third time this season she cleared that mark.
And defending boys state triple jump champion Cameron Edwards won a region title with a jump of 43-0.75. He also qualified for Sectionals in the high jump (fourth, 5-10) and long jump (third, 20-0.5).
Other SEHS boys qualifying for Sectionals were: Cailan Howard (second in 1600, 4:32.05; and second in 3200, 9:58.43), Amari Branch (third in 400, 51.30), Dylan Quesada (third in pole, 10-0), Chase Garrett (fourth in pole, 9-6), Victavious Smith (fourth in 110 hurdles, 15.90), Isaiah Campbell (moved up in 800, 2:08.12), Devin Hallman (moved up in 400, 52.47) and the relays 4 X 400 (third, 3:30.62) and 4 X 800 (third, 8:45.71).
Mustang girls also qualifying were: Cheyenne Ryan (second in 800, 2:31.80; third in 1600, 5:47.12), Christeon Lewis (third in 300 hurdles, 49.87), Caroline Motes (fourth in 400, 1:02.30), Mia Fitzpatrick (fourth in 800, 2:43.98), Riley Browne (fourth in high jump, 5-0) and and relays 4 X 400 (second, 4:20.44) and 4 X 800 (fourth, 10:54.54).
Effingham County girls qualifying for Sectionals were: Enna Lackey (second in 100 hurdles, 16.52; fourth in 300 hurdles, 50.21), Brooke Maseda (fourth in 1600, 5:47.61; fourth in 3200, 12:55.65), Roneisha Goss (fourth in high jump, 5-0), Abby McDonald (fourth in shot, 33-1) and relays 4 X 100 (fourth, 51.31) and 4 X 200 (fourth, 1:54.13).
No ECHS boy qualified for Sectionals.