Monroe’s Mimieux Land sticks her landing in the triple jump during Friday’s Day 2 of the GHSA state track meet. Land didn’t repeat as the state champ in the triple, but did win state title Nos. 8 and 9 in the high jump and long jump. (Photos by firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — She climbed out of the sand pit for the last time, brushed herself off and started a long series of hugs.
Paul Jones, her uncle and lifelong coach was the first. Then she hugged Octavia Jones, her coach at Monroe for two years before he left to coach football at Westover. Then she walked over and hugged her dad. No one wanted to let go.
That’s how everyone feels about the kid everyone just calls Mimi.
Call her a Monroe legend.
It was over.
Mimieux Land, who wrote her own chapter — her own book — in track & field at Monroe High was saying goodbye as an individual.
She has one more event today when she runs on Monroe’s 4x400 relay team, but that singular image of Land winning title after title on her own ended Friday on the second day of the GHSA girls state track & field meet.
“Maybe it will hit me later, but even then I don’t think I’ll cry,’’ said Land as she stood in the sun at Hugh Mills Stadium, which has become her own personal playground.
She walks away with nine individual state titles, including four in the high jump, where she won her fourth Class AAA title easily Friday morning, clearing 5-8. She just missed the state record at 5-10. She leaves with three state titles in the long jump, and that’s where she began her day Friday, leaping into the pit at 9 a.m. and climbing out later with the title at 19 feet, 4 3/4 inches. Then came her final leap in the triple jump, where she had set the state record twice at 40 feet and 4 inches.
It took a state-record jump to beat her as Washington County’s Ashley Ivey (40 feet, 7 1/2 inches) and Anasterasia Terrell of Howard (40 feet, 4 1/2 inches) both broke the record, while Land, who went 40 feet 1/2 was third.
“I’m really proud of Ashley,’’ said Land, who has known the other two girls for years as both friends and competitors. “It just played out that way. Everything happens for a reason. My momma always tells me to stay humble. You can’t take anything for granted.’’
That’s the way Land bowed out, with class and dignity, even in a tough loss in her final event.
“There won’t be another Mimi,’’ Monroe coach Latoyia Johnson said. “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.’’
Then Johnson stopped and started again, adding: “She’s the lady, the legacy and the land.’’
Land scored 26 points by herself to give Monroe a sizable team lead in the meet. The Lady Tornadoes, who are trying to become the first girls track team above Class A to win four consecutive team titles, have 39 points as they head into today’s finals. Columbus is second with 26, while Eagles Landing is third with 23 points and Westover is tied with Woodward Academy with 20 points. Land outscored every team but one in the meet Friday.
Alexandria Childs, meanwhile, scored 11 points for Monroe, finishing second in the discus and sixth in the shot put, and Ashley Harrell finished seventh in the discus for two more points.
Monroe has plenty on the track today with Chakerah Fletcher in the 400-meter run and 300-meter hurdles, and Destinee Collins in the 800. Nardesia McKinley is also in the 300 hurdles, and Land, Fletcher, McKinley and Collins will run on the 4x400 relay team in the final event of the meet.
“We’re right on track,’’ Johnson said.
While Monroe put itself in position to win another AAA team title, Lee County’s Holly Ebbets soared to her second consecutive Class AAAA state title in the pole vault and almost broke the state record of 11 feet, 7 inches.
Ebbets, who won the title with a vault of 11-6, had plenty of daylight over the bar at 12 feet, but she grazed the bar on her way down, and she was halfway to the ground when the bar wobbled and fell.
“Oh, my gosh, I know, I know,’’ said Ebbets, who anguished over her near miss, clenching and shaking her fists. “I had it. It was so close.’’
Still, this title was sweeter than last year’s when she won it at 10-6. Ebbets was seeded third and had to battle top-seeded Anna Dunne of Creekview to the end, not to mention her coach, pole vault guru Charlie Polhamus, was out of the state.
“I was really nervous coming into this meet, but it really pushed me to work harder. I stayed late at practice all week to get ready,’’ Ebbets said. “This (title) is really better than last year. I was just so scared because I had competition and my coach wasn’t here.’’
Ebbets, a junior, will have a chance to break the record next year. Her brother, Caleb, who cleared a personal best 17-5 last week at the University of Georgia, owns the boys Class AAAA state record in the pole vault.
“I’ve got a whole year to get ready to beat that record,’’ she said with a look of determination.
Westover’s Alysia Potts finished fifth in the Class AAA pole vault, and the Lady Patriots are in striking distance in fourth place, thanks to Ericka Taylor (third in the 3,200), Ayanna Mitchell (fourth in the discus) and Potts.
The only other athletes from Southwest Georgia to score in the field Friday were Early County’s Justice Lee (third in the Class AA high jump) and Pelham’s Briunna Freeman (sixth in the Class A long jump).