Sports in Fayette County rarely disappoint, and 2017 was no different.
A fantastically fun year tipped off with great success in basketball. More than half of the teams qualified for the state tournament, and six of those seven teams won at least one game. The Fayette County boys made it to the Final Four, but Sandy Creek did them one better with both their boys and girls team making the semifinals. The Tiger boys and Lady Patriots also claimed region championships along the way.
In late April, Lady Tiger alum made local history when Schaquilla Nunn became the first Fayette County alumna drafted into the WNBA. The San Antonio Stars picked Nunn, who graduated from Fayette County High School in 2012, with the first pick in the third round.
Spring was dominated by local teams. Soccer saw 10 of 12 possible teams make the playoffs, with Fayette County, McIntosh, Starr’s Mill, and Whitewater sweeping their region’s postseason spots for both boys and girls. The Lady Wildcats made a strong run to the semifinals, but the season belonged to McIntosh, who completed the state championship sweep for the fourth time in school history.
Starr’s Mill scored a state championship sweep in golf. In the boy’s championship, led by senior and University of Utah signee Andrew Crockett, the Panthers had a two-day total of 595 strokes to beat second place Ola High School by 10 shots and 15 shots ahead of third place Statesboro High School. The McIntosh Chiefs finished with a fourth-place finish, keyed by low individual medalist Jackson Lawlor. The Lady Panthers easily outdistanced their competition, winning by 21 shots over second place Veterans High School. The girls were led by Jocelyn Gao, who shot 77-78 for a total of 155 and was individual low medalist for the championship.
Lacrosse was successful with Starr’s Mill, McIntosh, and Whitewater qualifying for state for boys and girls, with the Panthers and Chiefs both reaching round two.
Baseball placed three teams in the playoffs in Starr’s Mill, McIntosh, and Whitewater. The Chiefs stretched to the quarterfinals, and the Panthers ran to the Final Four before falling to the eventual state champion from Loganville.
Our Lady of Mercy alum Christian Coleman keeps racking up the accolades. In the spring, he was named USTFCCCA National Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. His dominating junior season later earned him The Bowerman, the most prestigious award in all of college track and field. Following the season, he announced he would be foregoing his senior season at the University of Tennessee to sign a seven-figure contract with Nike. He repaid Nike’s faith when in August he became the first man to beat legendary sprinter Usain Bolt, besting him in a semifinal at the London World Championships and again with a second place finish (runner up to Justin Gatlin) in the finals.
The summer belonged to the boys from the Peachtree City Little League Baseball team who won their third straight state title. The squad came up just one win short of a trip to the Little League World Series.
Fall kicked off with a flourish for McIntosh. The Chiefs bested Buford for their third state championship, and they also swept the boys and girls cross country titles.
Softball saw three teams (Starr’s Mill, McIntosh, Whitewater) make the playoffs. The Panthers also notched their first region title since 2005.
Football saw four teams make the playoffs, including McIntosh making just their second trip and the biggest shock being Sandy Creek missing out for the first time in 15 years. Starr’s Mill had the best run, making it to the quarterfinals before losing to Rome, the eventual state champion.
In mid-November, local squads made their presence felt at the state cheer competition with McIntosh, Starr’s Mill, and Whitewater finishing 2-3-4.
As with each New Year, 2018 will have a high bar to top year’s past.