By Mark Brock
Athletics Specialist, DeKalb County School District
DEKALB COUNTY, GA—The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Southwest DeKalb High School track coach Bob Mullen as the 2023 Boys’ High School Track and Field Coach of the Year for the State of Georgia.
“I am very grateful for the honor of being chosen Coach of the Year,” said Mullen. “I would like to think my family, the athletes and coaching staff for all their support. Without them this honor would not have happened.”
Mullen’s Southwest DeKalb track team repeated as state champions last spring brining home the Class 4A state title after having won the Class 5A championship in 2022. The state title was the Panthers’ 12th overall. The Panthers also repeated as the DeKalb County Track and Field Championships team champ. It was the 18th title for the Panthers and Mullen was named the DeKalb Boys’ Coach of the Year.
The Panthers scored 77 points on the track on the final day of the 2023 GHSA State Championships and set three new records on the way to knocking off Starr’s Mill (81-77.5).
Trailing Starr’s Mill by 3.5 points heading into the final race the Panthers set a new state record in the 4×400-meter relay to capture the title. The Panthers team of Therrian Alexander III, Xzaviah Taylor, Xavier Turner and Isaiah Taylor won the race in a new state record time of 3:10.55 and Starr’s Mill was sixth (3:21.38). The group broke the record (3:13.21) of another Southwest DeKalb team set in 1987 by the foursome of Rodney Hooks, Kelly Carter, Hason Graham and Eddie Miller.
The 4×400 relay win was the third consecutive year for the Panthers to win the event at state.
Southwest set a new state record in the 4×200-meter relay of 1:25.13 with the team of Taylor Anderson, Xzaviah Taylor, Xavier Turner and Therrian Alexander III. The record was the second of the meet for the relay squad who set the mark of 1:26.32 in the prelims breaking the mark of 1:28.87 set by Monroe a year ago. It was a second consecutive win for the Panthers in the state event.
A one-two finish by the Taylor brothers in the 300-meter hurdles, including a new state record for Isaiah of 35.94, and Xzaviah in second at 37.78, played a big role in the Southwest really for the title. Isaiah’s time in the 300 hurdles was the best in the U.S. this year. It was also his second consecutive gold medal in state competition.
“As a staff, we really worked hard to train, place the athletes in the right events and to get them to give their very best in every event and meet,” said Mullen. “Winning back-to-back state championships was not an easy task.”
Photo provided Mark Brock/DCSD.