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Men Panthers claw out a region championship
Several men and a lady Panther headed to state
Several Men Panthers and one Lady Panther will have the honor of representing their school at the state track tournaments. The men’s team will send 15 and were undefeated this season. They took the 3-AAA region championship. The ladies compete this weekend and the men compete May 8-11. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
What a big difference a year makes, especially for the Panthers track team.  A team that barely placed for a spot in the 3-AAA regionals last year came back this year with a vengeance, sweeping the regional trophy away from their main rival, the Burke County Bears.
“Our team finished with 93 points, beating out Burke County’s 83,” head track coach Keith McGee said.
“The region track meet was the pinnacle of our season,” coach Daryl McCulley said. “But the ones we held at home, Savannah, Southeast Bulloch and in Ware County were just as exceptional. The boys are undefeated in the region. We beat everybody.”
“This win capped off a perfect season,” coach Nathan Mims said. “The boys worked hard all season long and I’m proud of them and all that they accomplished.”
McCulley said there is cohesiveness this year and with addition of Mims to the coaching staff everything came together. “Mims ran track at Savannah State University and has really helped us improve the training and practice routines,” McCulley said.
The one Lady Panther who qualified for state is Kayleen Watson for the 800-meter run. Currently a junior, she said the season has been exciting.
“It’s really good but at the same time it feels weird because I’ll be going by myself,” she said about the state meet this weekend. “I’ve run track since middle school. It’s fun and I’m excited about it.”
Senior Dmitri Lane qualified to run the 110-meter hurdles at state.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for a chance like this since my freshman year and I’m going to go out there and do the best I can to prove myself and put Liberty on the map.”
Lane placed first at every meet and got second place for the 110 at regional.
“I’ve been in track since I was a freshman and the program has exploded,” he said. “We went from sending no one to state to sending 15 to state. Track has helped me keep my body fat down, increase my speed for football and has improved me as an athlete all around.”
He is talking to Valdosta State for football and his track coach has been talking with Clemson.
“I would like to go on a duel scholarship where I can play football and do track,” Lane said. “Preferably I would take football over track but it doesn’t matter. Education comes first and I’ll be glad and do the best I can wherever I go.”
Senior Timothy McCulley started to pole-vault for the Panther squad only a month ago and he as region champion.
“I had no clue I would be the champion,” he said. “I started about our fourth track meet and I’m the region champion. I pick up athletics very easy.”
McCulley described the feeling of going airborne.
“When you plant the pole and you start to go in the air everything else around you just fades away and you just think of clearing the pole,” he said. “It’s a big rush.”
“It’s something to keep me in shape for football,” Roderick Jones said. “At first I didn’t like it too much because I must admit I’m kind of lazy.”
Jones, who like Lane, has been on the track team four years, said it felt good to go to state for the first time since he started running. He hopes to go to college for football but said he will keep his options open.
“I would rather go for football but if they gave me an offer for track I would go for the education,” he said.
Them men’s team will lose five seniors after this season but McCulley said the majority of his sprinters would be back.
“We are already planning for next year and the bulk of our sprint core is returning so we are expecting another banner year next track season,” McCulley said. “The program is on the rise. We were able to turn the program around in one year.”  

Panther coaching staff
and state qualifiers
Keith McGee head coach
Tony Dragon assistant coach
Daryl McCulley girls head coach
Nathan Mims, girls assistant coach
Lady Panther
Kayleen Watson 800-meter run
Men Panthers
Roderick Jones 4x100m and 100m (4x100 region second place)
Brandon Roberts 4x100m (4x100 region second place)
Nartavious Frost 4x100m (4x100 region second place)
Donte Jones 4x100m (4x100 region second place)
Hakeem Clark 4x100m (Alternate) (4x100 region second place)
Nolan Lowe 4x400m (4x400 region second place)
Doug Wittier 4x400m (4x400 region second place)
Quinton Harris 4x400m (4x400 region second place)
Keith Lemay 4x400m (4x400 region second place)
Norris Richardson 4x400m (alternate) (4x400 region second place)
Dmitri Lane 110 hurdles (region hurdler second place 14.93 seconds, fourth in triple jump)
Trier Bennett shot put, discuss (region shot put first place 49’7”, second in discus)
Aaron Bennett discuss (region discus first place 138’3”)
Timothy McCulley pole vault (region champion)
Darryl Stoves pole vault (region second place)
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