Brookwood's boys track and field team entered this weekend No. 1 in the state according to ga.milesplit.com. But coach Mark Kelley would rather his Broncos enter this weekend's Georgia Olympics without the bullseye on their back.
"We'd rather come from the outskirts, to be honest," said Kelley.
Two years ago, Brookwood did just that, coming from the periphery to win the 2010 state championship. Last season, Kelley's first as head track coach at Brookwood, the Broncos came in third and watch as county-neighbor Peachtree Ridge won the 2011 state title.
While it was difficult to watch someone else at the top of the podium, Kelley said he and his team were glad it was another Gwinnett County program. Like many football coaches in the county, Kelley said Gwinnett track programs take pride in representing their community.
"We try to keep it in the county as much as we can," said Kelley. "We try to have dual meets together to see each other and help each other out so we're well-represented at state."
Despite the No. 1 ranking, Kelley doesn't think his team should be ranked that high at this point in the season. Athlete Justin Martin had to leave the team due to a "school issue" that Kelley could not elaborate on. Martin was a big part of the team as he starred for the Broncos in the 200- and 400-meter races.
But Kelley's team is where they have strived to be all season. While there were other goals for the team this season, it is time for the Broncos to focus on their biggest prize.
"It's something we strive all year for," Kelley said of the state meet in Jefferson. "We want to get as many kids in the meet as possible. Our goals are county, region, state, and we take them one at a time."
With a deep roster full of athletes, Brookwood has a good shot at winning its second boys state track title in three years. Kelley said Thursday's field events would be where the Broncos needed to really perform well.
"The first day is big for us," Kelley said of Thursday, the day for field events. "We know as coaches for us to win, we have to do well the first day."
As of press time, the Broncos were looking good. A second-place finish by Bilal Abdullah in the high jump and a third-place finish by Justin Gose in the pole vault highlighted the day.