Monroe alum and two-time Olympic gold medal winner Angelo Taylor, back, center, poses for a photo with the Lady Tornadoes girls track & field team Tuesday after handing out their state-title rings to the three-time defending state champs. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Somewhere in the middle of all those hugs and shouts and smiles and laughs Tuesday afternoon, there is a dynasty — right there in the heart of Monroe High, right there in the midst of a celebration of celebration.
They called it a ring ceremony, but it was so much more — just like the girls track & field program on Lippitt Drive, where the Monroe girls simply run away with everything last year.
They have won three state titles in a row, and that’s three and counting.
“Oh yes, we will win a fourth in a row,’’ said Monroe’s track & field coach LaToyia Johnson, who was beaming with confidence when she said it. “Oh, I’m confident. I’m 99.976 percent confident that we will win it again. Three is good, but four is better.’’
Albany native and Olympic champion Angelo Taylor showed up to do the honors in the Monroe gym, where the student body cheered as the Lady Tornadoes stepped onto the stage to receive their rings.
“I got a little emotional,’’ said 800-meter runner Destinee Collins, a senior who has been a member of the last three Monroe state champion teams. “It was exciting. I just opened the box with the ring and looked at it and smiled and smiled.’’
Who wouldn’t smile?
The Monroe girls have been given rings for the last two years, but Tuesday’s rings represented three state titles in a row.
“It’s great,’’ said Mimiuex Land, who has won 10 state titles, including seven individual crowns. She has won three in the high jump and two each in the long jump and triple jump, where she set the state record two years ago and then broke her own record last year.
“It’s really great because the whole team gets something that symbolizes all the hard work everyone does,” Land said. “They have all worked very hard for three years, and this is a symbol of that accomplishment.’’
Alexandria Childs, who won the state title in the discus and was eighth in the shot put, looked for the words, then stopped and started again.
“This means so much,’’ she said of the rings. “It represents all the hard work, the accomplishment we have made. It represents everything this team has done three times. That’s great. We just push.’’
And pushing for more.
“I’m 99.9999 percent sure we will win a fourth title in a row,’’ said Shameica Carter, a senior who runs the 100 and on 4x100 relay team. “It was emotional for me because I was on the team as a freshman and sophomore but contributed a lot more last year.’’
Johnson believes in her kids, and she was all smiles and hugs Tuesday.
“This is a chance for me to show my appreciation for the girls,’’ she said. “It’s something that symbolizes what they have accomplished. It means more than they know. Years from now they will look at those rings and they will look back and know what the rings really mean.’’