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SEHS relay team shoes away adversity to take fifth at state
SEHS 4 X 400 boys relay
Isaiah Campbell (lower right) holds his shoe which came off during South Effingham's fifth-place finish in the 4 X 400 relay on May 13 at the Class 6A State Track and Field Championships in Rome, Ga. Members of the relay team along with Campbell -- Devin Hallman (lower left), Kaleb Hodges (upper left) and Amari Branch (upper right) -- show off their medals. (Submitted photo)

SEHS relay team shoes away adversity to take fifth at state

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

Isaiah Campbell lost his shoe, but never lost his motivation to help South Effingham's 4 X 400-meter relay team capture a school record and a fifth-place finish in the finals of the Class 6A track and field state championships on Saturday night.

The relay team broke its school record for the third straight meet with a time of 3:20.51 to score four points – the only points for South's boys in the three-day competition at Barron Stadium on the campus of Shorter University.

The Mustangs' quartet of Devin Hallman, Kaleb Hodges, Campbell and Amari Branch seemed in trouble when a Rockdale High runner was trying to step off the track as Hodges and Campbell exchanged their baton to start the third lap.

Somehow, someone stepped on the back of Campbell's foot and his shoe came off. But it wasn't much of a hindrance. Campbell ran a 49-second 400 to keep the Mustangs in the middle of the pack.

"He's never run that fast before. Maybe he should have been running without a shoe the entire time," said SEHS coach Rico Campbell, Isaiah's father. "I think this group was really determined. They weren't going to make any excuses. They were locked in."

Riley Browne with state medal
South Effingham senior Riley Browne poses with her medal after finishing fifth in the high jump on May 11 at the Class 6A State Track and Field Championships in Rome, Georgia. (Submitted photo.)
There were other stellar performances for the local athletes. Riley Browne, who recently announced her signing with Georgia Southern University, also had a fifth-place finish in the high jump at 5-2 and scored all four of the Mustang girls' team points.

Effingham County's Timmy Brown, Dakarai Walker, Cory Dekle and Jeremiah Chance tallied three points with their season-best time of 42.42 in the 4 X 100 relay.

Top eight finishers (and relay teams) in each event scored team points.

"I think we did all we could do so I felt like we had a good meet," Rico Campbell said. "It's really competitive at state."

So competitive that Branch broke a school record with a time of 50.04 in the 400 – .22 of a second from qualifying for the finals – but placed 12th overall.

SEHS' 4 X 800 relay couldn't quite match its region-winning time and finished with an 8:18.27 to also notch 12th at state.

Tyler Phillips, who returned to track this spring after sitting out with an injury last season, placed 16th in the 1600 with a time of 4:38.85.

For the Mustang girls, sophomore Kymberlea Coppin had a high jump of 4-10 to finish ninth. Coppin placed ninth at Sectionals but advanced to state as an alternate after an athlete had to withdraw.

Aubrey Edge tied her season-best 9-6 in the pole vault to place 10th. Lily McDonald also posted her season-best time of 12:30.91 in the 3200 to finish 14th. Christeon Lewis was 15th in the 100 hurdles with a 16.03.

And the girls' 4 X 800 relay of Brianna Barber, Maggie Morgan, Mia Fitzpatrick and McDonald placed 12th with a time of 10:40.62.

For Effingham County, Augusta University-bound Brooke Maseda posted a personal-best time of 12:28.23 in the 3200 to place 13th. She also ran a 5:46.77 to take 11th in the 1600.

Rebel freshman Braylin Nease equaled her Sectional mark of 4-10 to finish 11th in the high jump.

ECHS' 4 X 200 relay team of Kameryn Watson, Zaria Anderson, Victoria Foskey and Dionna Rivers was 16th with a time of 1:49.44.