Westover’s Dontrevious Ousley, left, is the Johnny Seabrooks Player of the Year for boys track & field, while Monroe’s Mimieux Land wins the girls honor for the third straight year. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY --- Now that it’s over — finally over — after one of the most memorable and historic runs anywhere in the state, the only question left about Mimieux Land’s legacy in track & field is how to view it.
Do you treasure the four years she has left behind? Or is the true measure of her dominance in what lies ahead? And how long will it be before Southwest Georgia sees another like her?
Land led Monroe’s girls track & field team to an unprecedented four consecutive Class AAA state titles and was an easy choice to win The Herald’s newly renamed Johnny Seabrooks Player of the Year award for girls track & field. Meanwhile, Westover’s Dontrevious Ousley, who was one of the top discus throwers in the nation this past season and repeated as the GHSA Class AAA state champ, is The Herald’s Johnny Seabrooks Player of the Year for boys track & field.
The Herald, which has legendary names for its football (John Reynolds), basketball (Willie Boston) and baseball (Ray Knight) Players of the Year awards, added Seabrooks’ name to the track & field award this year. Seabrooks, who is currently the Director of Athletics for Dougherty County’s schools, was a longtime and distinguished track & field coach in Dougherty County, and he is the undeniable heart and soul of Hugh Mills Stadium, which plays host to the GHSA girls state meet every year and also hosts the GISA boys and girls state track & field meets. Not surprisingly, Seabrooks is a member of the Georgia Track & Field Hall of Fame, and now he joins Reynolds, Knight and Boston as the namesake of an award for a sport he’s given so much to.
Land completed her remarkable career this spring, winning nine individual state titles and running on both of Monroe’s state relay teams all four years as well. She was also the high-point girl’s winner in the Class AAA state meet for three consecutive years.
Land walks away with four state high jump titles — beginning with her first as a freshman — three state titles in the long jump and two more titles in the triple jump, where she set the state record as a sophomore and then broke her own record as a junior.
Naming Land The Herald’s Johnny Seabrooks Player of the Year is the ultimate slam dunk. It’s also the third straight time she has won the award — the ultimate capper to a distinguished high school career.
“She’s definitely one of a kind,’’ said Octavia Jones, who coached Land at Monroe for two years before he left to become the football coach at Westover. “She will probably go down as the greatest female track star in the history of Dougherty County. She is the most special because of all the titles she won.’’
Land won two of her nine individual state titles in the spring and also ran on Monroe’s state title 4x400 relay team. She won a team state title all four years at Monroe and even helped design Monroe’s new uniforms this year. It seems she left her mark everywhere on the program.
“Mimi is Mimi,’’ Monroe track & field coach LaToyia Johnson said. “There won’t be another Mimi. There’s no one else like her. You may have people who are close, but nobody will be Mimi. She’s an awesome kid. She wins with character and integrity, and she is leaving behind a legacy.’’
While Land leaves behind a legacy, Westover’s Ousley seems to just be beginning.
Ousley, who came out for the track team as a sophomore wanting to be a sprinter, emerged as one of the top discus throwers in the nation over the last two years and set a standard that may never be equaled at Westover, where he won back-to-back Class AAA state titles in the discus. He not only won the state title this year, but he became only the fourth athlete in the history of Georgia to hurl a discus more than 190 feet — and just the third to accomplish the feat at the state meet.
Ousley was an easy choice to win The Herald’s Johnny Seabrooks Player of the Year. It’s his first, but he plans on being heard from in college and aspires to win a national title at North Carolina after singing with the Tar Heels earlier this week.
Two stars, both headed to compete among the elite of the ACC.
Land signed early in February, but brought more drama and intrigue to signing day than she did to any of her state meets, where she always lived up to — and exceeded — expectations.
After being recruited by every major track & field program in the nation, Land chose Clemson on signing day because she loved the school and the program, and because of connections with Clemson that stemmed from relationships with her father, Dan Land, who had friends and former teammates who were Clemson alum when he played with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
She is headed toward a bright future on a road that started when she was a 10-year-old as a member of the Albany Ruff Riders Track & Field Club. That’s where she took her first steps on the track and on a journey that has seen Land break down one door after another, winning title after title and helping Monroe’s girls track & field program become a dynasty.
“I knew she was special when I saw her in seventh grade,’’ Jones said. “She jumped 34 feet in the triple jump as a seventh grader.’’
Land won a title in the high jump when she was 10, and Ruff Riders coach Paul Jones, who is also an assistant coach at Monroe, said he knew that her path was set.
“(Coach Paul Jones) told me I could do special things back then,’’ Land said. “I know he believed it. I don’t know if I expected it then, but I know he expected it.
But when I won the first time in the high jump when I was 10, there was nothing like it. After that, I just wanted to win.’’
To this day, when Land looks back at her high school career, she said that the thing which stands out the most is her first state title in the high jump, as well as Monroe’s first of four straight team titles when she was a freshman.
“That was the biggest thing,’’ she said. “When we won the state title when I was a freshman — because no one expected us to win. That first year meant more. I will never forget scoring all those points at the state meet when I was a freshman. I won the high jump and I was eighth in the triple jump and ran on the (4x100) relay team.’’
Oddly enough, she scored much more in the next three state meets, racking up 30 points by herself with three state titles as a sophomore and 30 more with three more state titles as a junior. She won state titles in the high jump and long jump as a senior and was third in the triple jump. The first two jumpers Land competed against this past season both broke the existing state record to beat her.
Land was clearly the leader of the Monroe dynasty, but she never got caught up in the hype that surround her or the expectations that everyone else had for her. She simply won.
“I never listened to other people,’’ she said. “I just knew what I wanted to do and worked hard to do it. I knew it was up to me.’’
And she never got swept up by her own success.
“I didn’t think about what would happen,’’ she said. “I just went along with it as it happened. I never would say it was going to happen. I just let it happen.’’
And now that she is hearing the whispers that there may never be another one like her, Land is as gracious as she is talented.
“I’m honored that people feel that way,’’ she said.
She has always lit up those around her.
“She’s special,’’ Octavia Jones said. “It’s been great for me to have the opportunity to watch her blossom and become what she has become. Her parents did a great job raising her. She has a great work ethic and combines her talent with hard work to be the best she can be. She is very competitive and wants to be the best no matter what it is — cheerleading, track, whatever she does. It doesn’t matter, she wants to be the best.’’
Land has done it time and time again.
She competes in national events every summer, and that has helped her not only rise to the occasion on the biggest of stages, but in high school meets as well.
“She never lets the pressure get to her, and performs her best under pressure,’’ Octavia Jones said. “She has been in those situations and knows how to perform at the highest level’’
That’s one of the reasons every major college program wanted Land — and a big reason she will be missed at Monroe.
“She’s one of a kind, and she will be missed,’’ Johnson said. “No one is going to come along and mimic what Mimi did. She’s a beast. She’s a beast on the track, in the dirt and in the air. She’s just a beast. She’s a multiple performer, and she’s able to perform under any situation. She’s able to be elite under pressure.’’
Ousley, meanwhile, is a unique story for many reasons, not the least of which is his size.
“When you hear about a guy throwing a discus 190 feet, you expect to see somebody who is 6-4 and 230 pounds with a big wingspan,’’ said Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun, who coaches the track & field team along with head coach Lewis Smith. “Dontrevious is 5-9, 175 with no wingspan!’’
But he is a giant in his sport.
“He’s got one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen,’’ Calhoun said. “He has a passion for the discus. That’s what it is. And he never lets the fact that everyone is bigger than him bother him.’’
Ousley just beats them.
“What’s amazing is he is so small, but he’s so powerful,’’ Calhoun said. “It’s like a chemical reaction. He’s so strong and so quick, and he controls his strength and quickness. And it all culminates, and it’s all in balance when he throws the discus.’’
Ousley said he fell in love with the discus and started working out on his own daily, as well as watching videos of the best discus throwers in the world. He became a student of the sport and even gave up football to focus solely on the discus.
“I thought this would give me the best chance to get a college scholarship,’’ said Ousley, who turned down great offers from other schools, including one from Florida A&M, which offered him everything under the sun to come to Tallahassee.
But Ousley, who has a 3.4 GPA, wanted to attend North Carolina because the school offered the major he’s long dreamed of pursuing: computer animation.
“I motivated myself,’’ said Ousley, who wants to design video games. “At the end of my junior year, I felt like I could get a scholarship, and I felt if I was going to go to college that the discus would be the way. When I started with the discus, I just fell in love with it.’’
It was Ousley’s form and technique that lifted him to his status as one of the top discus throwers in the nation this year and the fourth-best in the history of the Georgia state track & field meet.
“It was amazing to see him progress,’’ Calhoun said. “When we first started doing drills with the discus, you could see he had quick feet and his technique was very good from the beginning. He really has a passion for the discus and worked hard.
“As a sophomore when (Ousley finished fifth in the state that year), I thought he had a chance to win a state title some day, but I never dreamed he would throw 190 feet. I would have never believed that. He just got better and better.’’
2012 HERALD ALL-AREA BOYS AND GIRLS TRACK & FIELD TEAMS:
Brandon Hudson, Senior, Westover, High Jump
WHY HE’S HERE: Had to qualify twice to reach the Class AAA state meet and then won the state title in the high jump in stunning fashion, clearing 6-4, after being one of the lower seeds in the field.
Dolphurs Hayes, Senior, Westover, Pole Vault
WHY HE’S HERE: Was the top-ranked Class AAA pole vaulter in the state for most of the season and finished second in the state meet, clearing 15 feet and 6 inches.
Roscoe Byrd, Senior, Albany High, Discus/Shot Put
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished second in the Class AA state meet in the discus and was 15th in the shot put.
Kevin Williams, Junior, Monroe, Long Jump
WHY HE’S HERE: With nearly unmatched leaping ability among area boys long jumpers, finished third in the Class AAAA state meet.
Derrick Akins, Senior, Westover, Discus
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AAA state meet.
Jackie Childs, Junior, Westover, 110 Hurdles
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AAA state meet.
Jerrod Williams, Senior, Albany High, 800M
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AA state meet.
Jerkerious Scott, Junior, Terrell County, 100M/200M
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class A state meet in the 100-meter dash, and was fifth in the 200-meter dash. He also led Terrell County’s 4x100 relay team that finished fifth.
Bryton Wenzel, Senior, Baconton Charter, 800M
WHY HE’S HERE: One of the area’s best distance runners for the last four years, he finished sixth in the Class A state meet.
Rhyan Edwards, Senior, Bainbridge, 400
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the Class AAAA state meet in the 400-meter run and helped lead Bainbridge’s 4x100 relay team to a third-place finish.
Alex Donnan, Junior, Westover, Pole Vault
WHY HE’S HERE: The Patriots’ highflyer finished seventh in the Class AAA state meet.
Tracy Chick, Senior, Terrell County, 400M/Relay
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the Class A state meet’s 400-meter run, and ran on the fifth-place 4x100 relay team.
Jatori Jones, Junior, Terrell County, High Jump
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the Class A state meet in the high jump and ran on the fifth-place 4x100 relay team.
Bernard Lumpkin, Junior, Terrell County, 100M
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished eighth in the Class A state meet in the 100-meter dash, and ran on the fifth-place 4x100 relay team.
Marquis Copeland, Junior, Pelham, 110M Hurdles
WHY HE’S HERE: Finished eighth in the Class A state meet.
Reed Hancock, Senior, Deerfield, Pole Vault
WHY SHE’S HERE: Won her third GISA Class AAA state title in the pole vault, where she has emerged as one of the best in the nation. Hancock is now headed to compete for Division I Alabama among the elite of the SEC.
Holly Ebbetts, Junior, Lee County, Pole Vault
WHY SHE’S HERE: Won her third consecutive GHSA Class AAAA state title in the pole vault, clearing 11 feet, six inches and just missing at 12 feet.
Alexandria Childs, Senior, Monroe, Discus/Shot Put
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished second in the Class AAA state meet in the discus and was sixth in the shot put.
Chakera Fletcher, Sophomore, Monroe, 300M Hurdles/400M/Relays
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished third in the Class AAA state meet in the 300 hurdles and third in the 400 and ran on both of Monroe’s relay teams, anchoring the state-title-winning 4x400 team.
Destinee Collins, Senior, Monroe, 800M/Relays
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the 800 and ran on both of Monroe’s state relay teams.
Nardesia McKinney, Freshman, Monroe, 300 Hurdles/Relays
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the Class AAA state meet in the 300 hurdles and ran on Monroe’s 4x100 relay team.
Ashley Harrell, Sophomore, Monroe, Discus
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished seventh in the Class AAA state meet in the discus.
Ericka Taylor, Junior, Westover, 3,200M/1,600M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Came back from an injury and finished third in the Class AAA state meet in the 3,200-run and fourth in the 1,600-meter run.
Ayanna Mitchell, Sophomore, Westover, Discus
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AAA state meet.
Alysia Potts, Senior, Westover, Pole Vault
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished fifth in the Class AAA state meet and holds the school record in that event. She signed with Savannah State.
Quanneshia Gatlin, Senior, Dougherty, 400M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AAA state meet in the 400.
Justice Lee, Freshman, Early County, High Jump/400M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished third in the Class AA high jump and seventh in the 400.
Kair’Shay Jackson, Junior, Albany High, 400M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished fourth in the Class AA state meet in the 400.
Na’Keidra Gervin, Junior, Albany High, 100M Hurdles
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished sixth in the Class AA 100 hurdles at state.
Kimmie Davis, Sophomore, Baconton Charter, 200M/100M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished second in the Class AA 200-meter dash at state and fourth in the 100-meter dash .
Akerian Florence, Junior, Mitchell County, 100M/200M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished third in the Class A 100-meter dash at state and seventh in the 200.
Mallory Diamond, Senior, Miller County, 100M/200M
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished fifth in the Class A 100-meter dash at state and sixth in the 200.
Briunna Freeman, Freshman, Pelham, Long Jump
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished sixth in the Class A state meet in the long jump.
Ranesha Florence, Freshman, Pelham, 300M Hurdles
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished sixth in the Class A state meet.
Quanza Dennard, Sophomore, Terrell County, 100M Hurdles/300M Hurdles
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished sixth in the Class A state meet in the 100-meter hurdles and eighth in the 300 hurdles.
Miller Singleton, Senior, Westwood, 100M/200M/Pole Vault/Relays
WHY SHE’S HERE: Won GISA Class A state titles in the 100, 200 and the pole vault and ran on both of Westwood’s relay teams to lead the Lady Wildcats to the state title.
Amber Young, Senior, Deerfield-Windsor, 400M/Long Jump/100M/Relays
WHY SHE’S HERE: Finished second at the GISA Class AAA state meet in the 400, second in the long jump, sixth in the 100 and ran on both of DWS’ relay teams to help lead the Lady Knights to their first state team title.