By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON — Cameron Edwards celebrated his 2022 Class AAAAAA triple jump state championship at Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursday night.
And wouldn’t you know it? Chicken wings were two for one.
That’s how the South Effingham two-sport standout rolls these days. He completed his senior season at the top of his game after jumping a personal-best 47 feet, 1.5 inches to capture a state championship in the triple jump for the second straight year at the GHSA Class 6A Boys State Track and Field Championships in Carrollton.
“It was a pretty good senior year,” Edwards said.
The track title was the second major achievement for the 6-foot, 195-pounder during the school year. Edwards, a running back on the Mustangs football team, snatched the Region 2-AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for with 1.093 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in nine games in the fall.
He also played soccer during the spring.
Edwards said both triple jump state championships were special. This year, however, he seemed to save his best when it counted the most. He was fourth at Sectionals with a triple jump of only 44-5.5 and failed to make state in the long jump and high jump — events that he placed in at state the previous year.
“In practice, I was focused on the triple for region and I had been working more on technique trying to add distance and I think it hurt my long jump and high jump,” Edwards said. “It was a little disappointing, but going into state my coaches were saying it could be a blessing. I could concentrate on just (the triple).”
On his second jump at state, everything clicked and Edwards landed with his 47-1.5. Watching from the sidelines, teammate Justice Mydell and Mustangs jump coach Haywood Ellison looked at each other.
“He just won state,” one said to the other, although four jumps remained for each of the 16 athletes in the event.
Edwards’ closest competitor, NaJiib Anderson of Rockdale County, finished more than a foot behind.
Winning state qualified Edwards for the prestigious Wingfoot Night of Champions meet at Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“Running for 1,000 yards, the way track came out and juggling soccer, I think it proved how good of an athlete I can be,” Edwards said.
His track teammates also gave a strong showing during the three-day affair. Distance runner Cailan Howard broke two school records — 9:44.31 in the 3200 (eighth at state) and 4:28.21 in the 1600 (ninth at state) and was part of a third record-breaking performance, running a leg in the boys 4x800 relay with Devin Hallman, Isaiah Campbell and Amari Branch combining for a time of 8:16.08 (10th at state).
Mustangs sophomore Aubrey Edge placed seventh at state in the pole vault with a school-record jump of 9-9 (breaking her own mark of 9-6).
The girls’ 4x800 relay team of Madison Hodge, Lily McDonald, Mia Fitzpatrick and Cheyenne Ryan was seventh with a school-record time of 10:23.56 — bettering the old mark of 10:26.78 at region last year.
The boys 4x400 relay team of Hallman, Kaleb Hodges, Campbell and Branch posted a 3:31.09 for 13th overall.
Ryan had a personal-best 2:26.07 in the 800 prelims (13th overall) and her season-best time of 5:37.78 in the 1600 (15th overall).
Riley Browne finished tied for 13th in the girls high jump with a leap of 5-0.
Candace Kieffer, Effingham County’s lone athlete at state, was ninth in the girls’ 3200 with a time of 11:57.83 and 12th in the 1600 at 5:29.64.