ALBANY, GA (WALB) - With three consecutive state titles to their name, it's safe to assume the Deerfield-Windsor Lady Knights would be the favorites entering this weekend's state meet.
That's not the case however.
The Lady Knights put in their final workout of the season this afternoon. On Thursday, they kick off another title defense.
The last three years, Deerfield was led by multiple time individual state champs Tarah Young and Virginia Moore. They've both graduated, and the Knights will enter this season's meet in more of an underdog role.
"When you take Tarah Young and Virginia Moore out of the mix, you take out some real big home run hitters," head coach Allen Lowe says. "This year, we don't have as many of those. So we're going to have to do it by winning points here and there, and hoping amassing enough at the end."
The state meet begins Thursday afternoon at Hugh Mills Stadium with qualifying heats. Lowe says tomorrow will be an important day for his Lady Knights if they want a chance at another championship.
"We really need to get both our relay teams qualified for the finals on Saturday," he says. "Then we just need to perform to the level I think we're capable of performing. We need to maximize how many possible points we can earn this weekend."
The Lady Knights admit this year feels much different than past final weeks of the season. They know they won't be the overwhelming favorites for the first time in a while. For seniors like Anna Eakes, a three-time state champion in the 4x400 relay, that just provides an opportunity.
"Going into it as the underdogs and coming out on top? That'd be way more meaningful than all the other ones," she says.
Thursday's qualifying heats begin at 2:00 p.m. at Hugh Mills Stadium. The state meet runs through Saturday afternoon.