Houston County netters sign with new program

March 20, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Dalton State College begins its intercollegiate sports program in the fall. Megan Clark and Viviana Garcia will be a part of it.

The two seniors accepted scholarships to play volleyball and continue their education at the NAIA school during a March 11 signing ceremony at Houston County High School.

“They have a lot of skills,” Dalton State head coach Bruna Langner said. “I consider myself lucky to have them on my team.”

Dalton State became a four-year institution in 1999. A vision of intercollegiate athletics is about to become a reality. The Roadrunners will initially field competitive squads in six sports, including volleyball. The goal is to eventually have 16.

“We get to establish the records for everyone,” Clark said of the prospect of starting a new program. “We only have (about 10 days) of practice before our first match so it’s going to be interesting.”

Clark, an all-Middle Georgia selection as libero for the 2012 season, said having Garcia there will ease her transition on and off the court.

“It’s gonna be great knowing someone there and knowing the way they play,” she said.

Clark is the daughter of Nancy Cole. Clark’s grandparents live near Dalton and helped put the prospects in touch with Langner and Dalton State.

Garcia is no stranger to new experiences. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Warner Robins and enrolled at Houston County prior to her sophomore season. At the time, she spoke very little English.

She spoke the language of volleyball, however. It’s a very popular sport in her native country. Being part of the Bears program helped her assimilate.

“I thought in Spanish,” she said in flawless English, “but I was able to translate that understanding to the court.”

The daughter of Johnny Ramos and Goria Roqueta played several positions during her tenure with Houston County. She said that versatility improved her marketability for the college game.

“I can contribute at any position,” she said. “Whatever (Langner) needs me to do, I’ll be able to do that.”

Meet cancellations

A pair of popular Middle Georgia track meets have been canceled due to renovation work at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. The Fendley Relays for boys and the International City Relays for girls won’t be held this year. In addition, the Houston County Championships will be held over two days, according to Warner Robins girls track coach David Erpelding. The first day of action will be April 9 at Houston County High. Finals will take place on April 10 at Perry High.

Construction crews are renovating the restrooms and the water delivery systems to the stadium.

Locals at all-star basketball

Sun News Players of the Year Jarius Smith of Northside and Asha Stegall of Warner Robins are among those area basketball players chosen for the Middle Georgia All-Star Classic, which will be held Saturday at the Macon State College gymnasium on College Station Drive in Macon.

The event features 40 of the area’s top senior basketball players. There will be a girls game and a boys game as well as a three-point shooting contest and a slam dunk contest. Activities begin at 5 p.m.

Kerregan Poe-Cochran of Veterans and Kiarra Thompson of Northside will also compete in the girls game. The boys team features several local athletes. Juvuan Shine (Warner Robins), Josh King (Warner Robins), Carlos Scott (Warner Robins), Andrew Graham (Houston County) and Davon Atkins (Houston County) will suit up for the West all-stars. The East team includes Smith, Christian Kennedy (Northside) and Reginald Bryant (Peach County). The East will be coached by Jamaal Garman of Warner Robins.

Bears, Warhawks pass early tests

There’s plenty of season left, but the baseball teams from Veterans and Houston County made early statements with region wins on Friday. The Bears topped Northside 10-6 while the Warhawks defeated West Laurens 4-3. Both wins came on the road.

At Dyson Field, Houston County pounded out 14 hits, including five for extra bases. Hunt Smith homered in the first for the Bears, who broke the game open with a 6-run fourth inning. Smith later collided with fellow-outfielder Cody Carter while catching a line drive. Carter lost a tooth on the play and received treatment at the hospital.

Veterans knocked off the team with which it shared the Region 2-AAA title last year.

The Warhawks survived four errors and an early 3-run deficit after rallying for single runs in each of the last four innings. Mickey Dugan scored the winning run after reaching on a dropped third strike.

Local clubs ranked in top 10

The Houston County boys soccer team is ranked fourth in Class AAAAA, according to the March 17 eurosportscoreboard.com poll. The Bears ran their record to 9-0 with a 2-1 win over Lowndes County on Friday. Houston County was scheduled to play at Jones County on March 19 and then will host Northside on March 21.

In Class AAAA, both the Veterans boys (9-0-1) and Veterans girls (6-3-1) are ranked seventh. The teams host Peach County tonight before returning to region play with Baldwin on Friday.

Contact Chris Deighan at cdeighan@cox.net.

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