Monroe’s Mimieux Land will be looking to add to the seven individual state titles she’s won the past three years when the state meet begins today in Albany, but she’s even more interested in leading her team to a fourth straight team championship. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
Want To Go?
WHO: Top girls track & field athletes from around the state.
WHAT: 2012 GHSA Girls State Track & Field Championships.
WHERE: Hugh Mills Stadium.
WEB: Events streamed live on GHSA.tv.
ALBANY — Do they have enough?
Enough to win it all again, enough for history, enough to put an exclamation point on one of the greatest runs ever …Do they have enough?
That’s what the Monroe girls track & field team will find out over the next three days when the Lady Tornadoes try to win their fourth consecutive Class AAA state title at Hugh Mills Stadium, where the GHSA girls state meet begins today and runs through Saturday.
Coach Latoyia Johnson knows exactly what it would mean.
“It would be quad-riffic,’’ she said. “Not terrific, but quad-riffic.’’
That’s Monroe’s theme this year.
“It would be special,’’ said Destinee Collins, one of the seniors who can make it four straight. “It would be something no one has ever done. If we win it, it probably won’t even hit me until after its all over.’’
Mimieux Land, the heart and soul of this team and the winner of seven individual state titles over the past three years, knows it will be different. They all are.
“The first one was a shock,’’ she said. “The last one was awesome. If we win the fourth one, it will be amazing.’’
Land is pretty amazing herself. She has won the high jump title three times, the long jump state title twice and she broke the triple jump state record when she was a sophomore, then broke her own record to win the state title again last year. She also runs on both of Monroe’s relay teams, and Monroe needs to score points from every girl who shows up at Hugh Mills.
The Lady Tornadoes have run away from the field the last couple of years, but this year’s meet could be close — even with Land stockpiling points in the field.
Land is expected to win the high jump, long jump and triple jump again, and Alexandria Childs, the defending state champ in the discus, is expected to win that event and pick up some points in the shot put, where she finished eighth last year. Sheniqua Young could also pick up some points in the long jump, and that’s what Monroe wants — a big lead coming out of the field events.
“We have enough to win it, but our runners have to score,’’ said Monroe assistant coach Paul Jones, who has been a part of the first three titles. “We need to get our sprinters out of the prelims (today) and into the finals. Chakerah Fletcher has to run. She needs to make it to the finals (in the 400 run and the 300 hurdles). Destinee needs to get to the 800.
“Our 4x100 relay team is seeded No. 5 and our 4x400 relay is in the top three. I think we have a chance to win them both, but we can’t drop the baton. We’ve got to get them out (today).’’
All the running prelims will be held today with most of the finals being held Saturday, while all the field events will be held Friday.
“It’s a big day for our sprinters (today),’’ Jones said. “If they get to the finals, it will take a lot of pressure off (Childs) and Mimi.’’
Childs said Monroe isn’t feeling much pressure at all about winning the fourth title.
“I don’t feel pressure,’’ she said. “(What we feel) ... It’s not like pressure. It’s more like the intensity of us wanting to win it. It would be a big accomplishment. We feel like we would be making history at Monroe.’’
Land said Monroe is ready, but she also knows it won’t be easy.
“We’re not nervous at all,’’ she said. “There’s no extra pressure. We know there are good teams out there this year. We’re not scared of it, and we don’t take it for granted.
“It’s like any other state meet. Every year we get a little more competition, and it gets tougher, but we just stay humble and compete. We compete — that’s the main thing. The competition is better this year, but we’re better also.’’
Johnson believes her team has more than enough to win it all.
“We have enough,’’ she said. “Because we have the right girls, the right attitude and superb performances.’’
Westover’s girls, meanwhile, will be competitive in the Class AAA meet, and could take the lead after Day 1 because the only final today is the 3,200-meter run. Westover’s Ericka Taylor, who was injured last year, has a chance to win both the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs.
Westover is sending Alisia Potts and Kayla Kirkland in the pole vault, Ayanna Mitchell (discus and shot put), Alicia Samuels (discus), Jessica Burnett (100 hurdles), Taylor and its 4x400 relay team to the meet.
“I hope to get in the Top 10,’’ Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun said. “From where we started at the beginning of the year to where we are right now, we’ve had a remarkable turnaround.’’
Dougherty had two girls qualify for the Class AAA state meet: Brittany Fowler (200) and Quanneshia Gatlin (400 and 800).
Albany High’s girls team probably won’t get into the Top 10 in the Class AA meet, but coach Jessica Thomas is excited about her team.
“This is the most girls I’ve brought to state,’’ said Thomas, who is in her fourth years as the head track & field coach. “Last year we were 25th. I know we won’t be in the 20s this year. We’re looking to be in the Top 15. We just don’t have anybody in the field.’’
Na’Keidra Gervin, who was fifth in the 100-meter hurdles last year, and Kair’sha Jackson, who will compete in the 400, lead the way along with Lindeshia Hudson (100 hurdles) and Elisia Hollinger (300 hurdles). Albany also has both of its relay teams at the state meet.
Justice Lee, who qualified in the high jump and the 400 and 200, leads Early County, which will also send its 4x100 relay team — for which Lee is the anchor — to the Class AA meet.
Lee County is bringing just two girls to the Class AAAA state meet, but Holly Ebbets, who is seeded third in the pole vault, has a chance to win the title, and Mariah Davis will compete in the 800-meter run for the Lady Trojans.
Bainbridge, which has one of the top programs in Southwest Georgia, is young this year and likely doesn’t have enough to compete for the Class AAAA state title. The Lady Bearcats are sending Diamond Bouie (high jump, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Raven Burney (long jump) Khadeejah Cooper (300 hurdles) and its 4x 400 relay team to state.
The Class A state meet will be loaded with girls from Southwest Georgia, which will be well represented by Terrell County. The Lady Greenwave dominated the Region 1-A meet and it shows.
Terrell County is sending Jasmine Taylor (long jump and 200), Julyssa Brown (high jump), Quanza Dennard (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Camille Harris (400) and both of its relay teams to state.
Also in Class A, Baconton Charter is led by Kimmie Davis (long jump, 100 and 200) and Sadie Allen (100 hurdles), while Pelham’s Briunna Freeman (long jump and high jump), Ranisha Florence (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Urssula Aviles (1,600) and the 4x100 relay team all qualified for the state meet.
Mitchell County is sending Akerian Florence (100 and 200), and Adrianna Harvey (300 hurdles) to state, and Randolph-Clay’s Brianna Thornton qualified in the shot put in the Class A state meet.