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South's Edwards jumps to state championship
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By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

A small adjustment made a big difference for South Effingham triple jumper Cameron Edwards on Thursday at the Class AAAAAA Track and Field Championships in Carrollton.

Edwards fixed his takeoff point and suddenly the junior was a hop, skip and jump away from a state championship.

Edwards jumped 45 feet, 8 inches to top the second-place leap of 44-10.25 by KaeVaughn Martin of Northside, Warner Robins on the first day of the three-day meet in Carrollton.

“Coach (Laura) Soles told me I didn’t run off the board,” said Edwards who paid attention and broke his personal best by 13.5 inches.

It was SEHS’ second triple jump championship in the last three state meets. Darius Scott, now jumping at Cornell, won a Class AAAAA state title in 2018. (COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the annual state meet in 2020.)

Edwards, a triple threat in field events, also placed sixth in the long jump with a leap of 21-7.25 and seventh in the high jump with a personal best 6-4.

“Cameron just has such raw talent and he’ll work hard for you when he knows you care,” Soles said.

Soles and Edwards also noted the help of Mustangs assistant Terrance Green, who jumped in college. Edwards’ previous best triple jump was 44-6.5 as a sophomore last season at West Laurens.

But Green has had more time to work with Edwards in recent weeks as the team thinned out after region and sectional meets. As SEHS team members whittled after region and sectional championships, Edwards has had more one-on-one time with Green. 

“He’s been amazing,” Edwards said. “My freshman year, I didn’t have good form, but he taught me so much.”

Thursday, Edwards was honored on the podium three times. Climbing the stairs never gets old.

“Just walking up the stairs, it was so amazing to win a state championship because I knew I worked so hard,” said Edwards, who contributed 15 of SEHS’ 16 team points.

Edwards and his South Effingham teammates and Effingham County High School state qualifiers all rode the bus to Carrollton together, but only two others reached the podium to honor top-eight finishers.

SEHS’ Jake Kerns had a personal-best discus throw of 143-9 and placed eighth.

ECHS’ Megan Hilton broke her own school record in the 800-meter run with a 2:22.09 and finished sixth.

Mustangs high jumper Alex Brown just missed a spot on the podium after her high jump of 5-0 placed her ninth.

Rebels junior long-distance runner Candace Kieffer, the girls region champion in cross country, was 10th in both the 1600 (5:23.84) and 3200 (11:40.61).

SEHS’ 4x800 relay team of Jacob Mitchell, Cailan Howard, Tyler Phillips and Gavin Van Ness broke its previous school record by almost four seconds with a time of 8:23.15 while placing 10th.

Mitchell was 14th in the 1600 (4:34.21) just ahead of Howard, 15th, (4:34.75).

ECHS’ freshman Roneisha Goss, second at sectionals in the high jump, was 14th at state with a jump of 4-10.