State track champions receive rings

Published 1:38 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coach Larry Cosby’s 2010 state Class AAAA champion Bainbridge High School Bearcats track team received their championship rings in a special ceremony Monday night at the school cafeteria.

The team won the school’s first state track championship on May 15 in Jefferson.

The rings, with a big “B” in the center and surrounded by the year 2010, and GHSA standing for Georgia High School Association and AAAA on the side, were awarded to team members.

Recipients included Rhyan Edwards, who was on the 4-by-400-meter relay team; Dontavious Jackson, who ran the 100-meter hurdles; Jamar Venisee-Cosby, who high jumped; Harold Martin, who was on the 4-by-400-meter relay team; Delonte Martistee, who tripled jumped, and Joseph Ausgood, who participated in the 800-meter run.

Also receiving rings Monday were Octavious Scott, who ran the 300-meter hurdles; Dewayne Gurley, who threw the discus; Steven Crowell, who heaved the shot put, and Denzel Gamble, who triple jumped and ran the 110-meter hurdles.

Other ring recipients were Thomas Smiley, Brandon Handsford, Shawn Samuels and Denzel Reynolds, who were on the first-place 4-by 100-meter relay team. Reynolds also ran the 100-meter dash.

It was the third state athletic championship in school history. Coach Harold Hudson’s 1968 Bearcats golf team and coach Ralph Jones’ 1982 Bearcats football team also won state championships.

Jones, the former Decatur County School Superintendent, and current Decatur County School Superintendent Fred Rayfield both praised the young track athletes for their outstanding accomplishments.

“Winning a state championship is not easy,” Jones told the young athletes. “It takes hard work and dedication by you athletes and your coaches. You have done a marvelous job.”

Rayfield, quoting the late outstanding UCLA Bruins basketball coach John Wooden, said, “You cannot be truly successful until you have the peace of mind knowing that you gave your best. You have that peace of mind and we are all extremely proud of you.”

The team was led by the 4-by-100-meter relay team of Samuels, Handsford, Smiley and Reynolds, Their first-place time of 41.31 seconds was the best in the State of Georgia this year in all classifications.

Coach Cosby said he couldn’t be prouder for his athletes and for Larry Clark, who has been involved in the BHS track program for 33 years and has been such a great role model to him and to so many other athletes who were on his teams.

“Coach Clark has helped so many young athletes and young people through the years,” Cosby said. “I am honored to be the one he chose to replace him.”

In evaluating the season, Clark said he knew the team had the potential to be state champions.

“Before the state meet in Jefferson, we knew we had had an exceptional year, were there for a purpose, and had the potential to be state champions,” Clark said. “We met as a team after winning the Region 1AAAA championship and compared all the region results around the state. We knew we were capable of being champions. We didn’t have a dominant performer like most teams that win state championships, but we did have great athletes who were determined to be the best in the state.”

Cosby and Clark said that the first goal at the state meet was to get everyone qualified for the finals, and the next goal was for the young athletes to finish as strong as they possibly could because the time was now and there was no need to wait for tomorrow.

The Bearcats qualified athletes for state in 13 events and earned points in 11 of those events.

Clark also praised the track coaching staff, that, in addition to Cosby and himself, includes Lady Cats head coach Tandria Phillips, Harold Smith and his brother, Patrick Clark.

“Our coaching staff has done a great job,” Clark said. “To be successful in track, you must have a group of coaches who enjoy track and are willing to spend the time to train and teach athletic skills, and to fine tool those skills for maximum performance.”

Cosby and Clark agreed that the track facilities at the new Bainbridge High School were a factor in the run to the state championship.

“Our track facilities at the new Bainbridge High School are so much better than our previous facilities at the former Bainbridge High School,” Clark said. “They have allowed us to train much better with fewer bumps and bruises. The discus throw and shot put ring, along with our great running surface, were key factors to our success last spring.”