GIA track champions

As you are probably aware, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) recognizes sports champions of the Georgia Interscholastic Association (GIA), the high school organization for black schools that existed from 1948-70.

The GHSA voted in 2002 to give this recognition to the GIA, a few months after a three-part series by J.C. Clemons and Derrick Mahone in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the league.

Mahone and Clemons listed all the known GIA champions at that time. It was not much of a list as there were not too many resources about the league that had been saved.

Fortunately, we live in a much more digital world, with many more newspapers digitized. All football champions have now been accounted for and nearly all basketball champions are known.

Track is one of the last horizons in giving the proper recognition to GIA schools. We’re still not close, but at present, we can now fill in a few more schools. Plus, we now know that unlike the GHSA at the time, the GIA had boys and girls state track champions.

Most every state track championship took place at Fort Valley State.

1948

  • Boys: Washington (Atlanta) (Big 7 Conference – Note: GIA schools were not divided up into classifications until later)
  • Girls: Howard (Atlanta) (Big 7)

1949

  • Boys: Ballard-Hudson (Macon) (AA)
  • Girls: Monroe (Albany (AA)

1950

  • Boys: Ballard-Hudson (AA)
  • Girls: Howard (AA)

1951

  • Boys: Ballard-Hudson (AA)

1952

  • Boys: Ballard-Hudson (AA), Risley (A)
  • Girls: Washington (AA), Lisbon (Dodge County) (A)

Note: A, B and C were combined into one division at this point. Below the list is a story that mentions it.

1953

  • Boys:  Washington (AA), Risley (A)
  • Girls: Washington (AA), Monroe (A)

1954

  • Boys: Washington (AA), Risley (A), Wayne County Training (B)
  • Girls: Risley (A)

1955

  • Boys: Washington (AA), Risley (A), Wayne County Training (B), Lamson-Richardson (C)
  • Girls: Wayne County Training (B)

1956

  • Boys: Washington (AA), Central (Newnan) (A)
  • Girls: Washington (AA)

1957

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1958

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1959

  • Boys: Lucy Laney (Augusta) (AA)

1960

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1961

  • Boys: Lucy Laney (AA), Fairmont (Griffin) (A),  Wayne County Training (B), Stephens (Calhoun) (C)
  • Girls: Washington (AA), Haralson County Consolidated (A), Wayne County Training (B), Central (?) (C)

1962

  • Boys: Washington (AA), Lynwood Park (B)

1963

  • Boys: Central (Newnan) (AA)

1964

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1965

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1966

  • Boys: Washington (AA)

1967

  • Boys: Houston County Training (AA)

1968

1969

1970

 

Though the GHSA only lists the meets through 1966 (which is likely the extent of the material they have), they did continue in the years after. As noted above, we do know that Houston County Training won the 1967 championship.

Many of the champions were found through Memphis World archives, which unfortunately are not currently completely functional. By random chance, though, this article popped up in The Times-Journal, a newspaper located out of Eastman, in an article dated May 29, 1952.

LISBON IS WINNER

Lisbon High school, located in the Zion Hill community, participated on May 2 and 3 at Tuskegee, Ala. Before entering this meet, they had won first place in the state track and field for A, B and C schools held at Fort Valley State College by collecting more points than the other 15 schools participating. Risley High, Brunswick, and Monroe High, Albany, were their closest rivals in points gathered by teams.

The following students entered in competition at Tuskegee: Pearline Simmons, Lugene Simmons, Rosa Simmons, Ocie Carson, Lois Carson, Verdell Cooper, Curtis Whitening and Junior Davis.

Pearline Simmons, competing in the 50-yard dash, 100 meters and the 200 meters, was outstanding in her performance by winning through the heats until the semi-finals in the 100 meter and the 200 meters.

Remarkably, little Lisbon High, a school that closed completely in 1957, outran schools such as Risley and Monroe. Through resources were likely scarce at those two schools, they were both true Class A teams.

Lisbon’s total attendance for all grades was 227 as of the September 3, 1953 Times-Journal. It’s likely that Lisbon’s high school attendance was fewer than 75 and quite possibly lower than 50. Add in that Lisbon was one of a handful of rural black high schools in Dodge County, track resources were probably nil.

If anyone has further information on GIA track champs or has any corrections, please leave a comment or contact the GHSA.

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