Senior Lewis ends track career state runner-up


Paul E. Ward - Atlanta Track Club

Senior Ricardo Lewis competes at the GHSA State Championship. Lewis placed second in the Triple Jump, and fifth in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.79 seconds.

Charlie Kane

The boys track season ended with a 9th place finish in the GHSA Class 5A State Championships. The team was led by a second-place triple jump and fifth place 100 meter finish by senior Ricardo Lewis. 

“My coaches helped me get to where I am today by giving me goals of the times and marks I should get,” Lewis said. “My teammates also contributed by saying they could beat me in my own events, so I couldn’t ever be slacking any day.”

Individually, Lewis continued to break records throughout the year, setting a new school record of 46-10 in the triple jump and he ranked nationally several times during the season in an event he just learned a year earlier. This motivation led to excitement to compete in the state competitions. Lewis emphasized that the returning team is capable of better things next year.

“At first, going into the meet, I was very nervous, but after finals came, I pushed away my emotions to try and do my best,” Lewis said. “If we all would’ve performed as we should, we probably would be state champions. Next year everyone should be putting in more effort into practice, and maybe even doing things outside of practice to do better.”

Head Coach Delbert Ellerton was confident going into this year’s state meet.

“We went into that track meet with essentially the fastest times in the state in the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 relay,” Ellerton said.” In the 4×400 relay, we didn’t even make the finals because we didn’t have our four normal legs. We had to substitute someone (Malachi Kadle) who had been injured all year (shin splints), and he basically ran, volunteering to substitute, and putting himself in a situation where it hurt him going into the next day.”

These setbacks showed through during the GHSA 5AAAAA State Championship. 

“The expectations going into that track meet is that we were one of the top teams in the state and probably, in a worse-case scenario, we didn’t expect lower than state runner-up in that track meet,” Ellerton said. 

“Ricardo started running track last year, and last year he was mostly a triple jumper, didn’t get past region,’’ said Lewis. “This year for most of the season he’s been the top triple jumper in the state, and eventually he ended up finishing second in the triple jump, fifth in the 100 meters which was an event that he had just started really running this year, and one time all last year. “

At the meet, seniors Jordan Taylor, Kyron Parker, Malachi Kadle and Junior Xzavian Blackman placed seventh in the 4×200. The 4×100 relay of Parker, Blackman, Dominick Philpot and Lewis also finished seventh. Blackman and Parker also came in fifth and sixth in the 300 hurdles. Parker finished the season ranked 20th in Georgia, while Blackman finished ranked 26th. Parker, Blackman and Lewis competed in Atlanta Track Club’s Wingfoot Night of Champions meet on May 20 at Georgia Tech. The meet was the equivalent of an all classification state meet. 

Lewis was the knights most important piece in the state meet, scoring 13 of the 23 total points tallied. 

Taylor, who placed second in the region meet, but didn’t make the state final in the 800,  has been a positive for the Knights squad this season, collecting many impressive times throughout regionals and state. He attributes success to the continuous support from the coaches.

“Coach Tony (O’Kelley) has done everything he can to show me my potential, and in doing that I’ve run as close to my potential as possible,” Taylor said. “My best running experience was when I set my personal record in region at 1:56, which led up to winning the 4×400, and it was the second fastest time in school history.”

In the 4×400 state prelims race, Taylor, Blackman, Kadle and Devin Tabourn finished thirteenth; the top eight teams made the final. Tabourn emphasizes the work they’ve put in to get to this stage.

“It’s been a long year of ups and downs, and it’s unfortunate that we had to end up finishing lower than we expected,” Tabourn said.  “This is what comes with playing high-level talent all across the state. The guys coming back next year; however, have seen what it takes to finish high in state competitions, and are going to come back next year hungrier than ever.” 

This year’s team, with nearly 60 athletes, was bigger than normal. Tabourn acknowledges the rapid growth the track program has seen in the past three years.

“In 2021, the boys track team only had around 20 kids, and the improvement since has been ridiculous,” Tabourn said. “With the rate of growth this program has shown, it’s only a matter of time before we start dominating across 5A.”

For most of the runners,  it was their first time competing,  and they have already made significant progress that will hopefully help next year’s squad.

“This year was really my first year running track seriously, so I wanted to get better and learn what I could contribute to the team so we could win,” said Mattox. “Next year I’m looking forward to getting my 800 and 400 time better so I can make it to region and then state, so I can get a state medal.”