Springtime Speed: North Atlanta 4 x 200-Meter Relay Team Sets State Record


Mia Stimpson

Record Breaking: The North Atlanta High School 4 x 200-meter team basks in the glory after breaking both the school and the state record in their event. Relay team members were (top row, l to r) De’shawn Owens and Caleb Ramsey and (bottom row): Darius Malcolm and Carl Murray.

On May 13 at historic Barron Stadium in Rome, a bright warm sun was setting as a mid-May evening drew to a close. During an intense three-day competition at the 6A State Track and Field championships, the Running Warriors of North Atlanta persevered to pull off an impressive set of results: a boys team second-place team finish and a girls team seventh place team finish.
An integral part of the boys’ team’s success was its 4 x 200-meter sprint relay team which won its race and made state history in the process. The event team’s time of 1:25:84 meant the quartet of North Atlanta athletes ran the fastest time ever for school’s at the 6A category in Georgia track and field history. The blazing time, which also established a North Atlanta school record, was the 10th fastest time in state history across all competitive categories. Coming just behind the Warriors in the 6A relay event were Veterans High School (Warner Robins) in second place and Lovejoy High School in third. 

Progress toward the record-breaking performance did not come on a completely linear path. The event team faced its fair share of setbacks and obstacles. Earlier in the season, the Warrior 4 x 100-meter team shattered its own school record five times, raising the bar for themselves every meet. But the team suffered a major setback, when senior DeShawn Merritt, a major contributor in the school’s sprint relay events, suffered a hamstring injury in the City Championship Meet on March 25. With that injury, Merritt could no longer continue in relays and there was a need for an immediate replacement. Carl Murray, a captain of North Atlanta track and field team and one of the school’s greatest-ever sprinters, knew the moment was critical. He made sure that Merritt’s injury did not disrupt the team’s overal vision for state championship glory. “Carl is the leader of the group no doubt, so if he’s on point, the team is focused,” said Warrior Track and Field head Coach Bryce Doe. “He used his influence to focus the team on their goals.”

This year’s state-record 4 x 200-meter sprint relay team was constructed through hard work and discipline. The team was composed of seniors Murray and Caleb Ramsey, along with juniors Darius Malcolm and De’shawn Owens. All along, as they trained, they focused on what they could control and not on variables outside its control. “The key was always to not look around at what other teams were running,” Murray said. “We just focused on what we were doing, getting comfortable with eachother, and doing our own thing.”
Murray and his teammates forged this attitude by absorbing the daily lessons their coach preached to them. “Coach Doe reminds us daily to always stay humble, and to always stay ready, because you never know when it’s going to be be your turn,” Murray said.

One might think talent is all a team needs to be successful, but Doe knows it is much more involved than that. “It’s not just about everyone running fast,” he said. “It’s about chemistry and being able to read the body language of the person you are working with in the exchange zone.”

Most teams have plenty of talent. But what made this year’s North Atlanta’s 4 x 200-meter team different was its noteworthy camaraderie. The teammates always shared a healthy degree of competition among them, a competitiveness that richly added to the chemistry that’s vital for high levels of athletic performance. The special bond also comes from their friendships off the track. “We’re always on ‘the game’ together, playing ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘NBA 2k,’ and Madden,” said Murray about the frequent video-game bonding among he and his event mates. “Our time beyond the track also brings us together when we’re competing,”

With the conclusion of the 2023 track and field season, the sun has now set on this year’s Warriors state champion 4 x 200-meter relay team. But this talented group of sprinters will forever serve as an example of what can be accomplished through teamwork and hard work. They ran for glory, and wound up making history – state and school history – in the process.