Williams caps career with 100 hurdles title
by Carlton D. White
May 12, 2013 12:42 AM | 1919 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ALBANY — Kell’s Kendell Williams broke her own state record in the finals of the 100-meter hurdles, and McEachern’s 1,600 relay team also took down a state mark to highlight Saturday’s final day of the girls state track and field state championships.

Individually, North Cobb’s Shanel Burr won the Class AAAAAA 100 hurdles, while Wheeler’s Natisha Dixon captured the 300 hurdles.

As a team, Marietta and McEachern finished in the top four of Class AAAAAA, as did Kell in AAAAA and Whitefield Academy among the Class A private schools.

Williams’ time of 13.23 seconds broke the previous mark of 13.29 she set in her preliminary run Friday. It was also the fastest high school time in the nation this year and earned her the top performance award in the event among all classifications.

Williams, who has signed to compete at Georgia next year, beat Miller Grove’s Tiffany Flynn by more than a second.

“I was really surprised by that time,” Williams said. “I had a personal record in the prelims, so I didn’t think I could get it down that low again. I had an ice bath (Friday) night, and didn’t come in expecting (the time) to be that good. It’s an amazing (personal record). I can’t believe it.

“I felt like I was going fast, but I always feel like someone’s on my shoulder, and that just makes me always want to go faster.”

Williams’ hurdles title was her third championship of the competition after claiming the long jump and the high jump Friday. She also assisted Kell’s 1,600 relay team to a fourth-place finish, giving her 31 points, which was the most for one individual in Class AAAAA and tied Our Lady of Mercy’s Leah Banks for the highest among all classifications.

Williams concluded her high school career with 11 state titles.

“It all feels great,” she said. “I always perform well here. I thought my junior year was great, but this whole weekend just went so well. It was a good way to go out.”

McEachern’s 1,600 relay team of Kourtney Keller, MaKenzie Dunmore, Christoni Wynn and Cierra Dunston clocked in at 3:45.16, braking the state record of 3:45.55 set by Stephenson in 1999. The Lady Indians battled Westlake for the top spot following each exchange until Dunston pulled away in the final 100 meters.

“This feels really good,” said Wynn, a senior. “We tried our best and it paid off. We were going for Westlake, and our strategy worked. We wanted to be right there with them and past them in the end. Breaking the state record is just unbelievable.”

The relay gave McEachern 39 points and a fourth-place showing in Class AAAAAA. Westlake won with 72.5 points, followed by Mill Creek (41) and Marietta (40).

“Coach Cedric Sapp put together the relay teams,” McEachern coach Philip Hoskins said. “We changed the order and put Kourtney and MaKenzie into the final group. We had been holding out on that. That was the first time together for them, and they ran an incredible race.”

Marietta led with 31 points entering Saturday’s finals before having to settle for third.

“Mill Creek needed sixth in the 1,600 to beat us by one point and they got it,” Marietta coach Chad Christman said. “We did better in the field events than we thought and got what we needed (Saturday) to stay on the podium.

“We’re ecstatic to be there. I think it’s the first time we’ve gotten a trophy since 2006. It was a great state meet, and to have a shot at second, losing by one point, just shows that every point counts.”

Kell knows the value of every point. The Lady Longhorns entered Saturday second in Class AAAAA, leading Miller Grove by one point going into the 1,600 relay. The race was in doubt early on with Miller Grove second and Kell seventh heading into the third leg.

That’s when Williams moved the Lady Longhorns from seventh to fifth, and anchor Marielle Lewis crossed the line fifth in 37:57.10 to edge Miller Grove’s final runner by .16 seconds.

Kell finished as the runner-up with 44 points.

“This has been four years in the making,” Kell coach Andi Jenkins said. “Marielle fought for that spot and knew what she had to do and did it. This is our best finish for the girls. This is a team of all seniors, except one freshman, and they worked hard for this. They wanted to get that trophy and they fought for it.”

Dunwoody (69.33) won the title, with Miller Grove (42) third. Pope (22) finished eighth and Allatoona (20) was 10th.

Whitefield Academy’s 1,600 relay placed second (4:04.56) to vault the Lady Wolfpack from seventh to fourth in the team standings with 41 points. Whitefield was 12th entering Saturday’s action, but runner-up finishes from both relays helped improve the team’s position. The 400 relay crossed the line in 49.82.

“We had a great year this year,” Whitefield community coach Ken Eaton said. “We advanced more girls to state this year than any year in school history. The (400) and (1,600) relay teams set school records, and Naomi Grand Pierre set a school record in winning the 1,600.

“We’ve never had this kind of depth in my 11 years as coach. Our kids will sleep well (Saturday).”

Our Lady of Mercy (68.5) won the Class A private-school title. Walker (35.5) was fifth.

Walker coach Matt Eisenman was also pleased with his team’s finish.

“This is by far our best season since I’ve been coach,” said the sixth-year coach. “We return most of the kids that were here this weekend, so we’re going to make a run for a trophy next year.”

Burr crossed the line in 13.98 to lead a Cobb County trio in the 100 hurdles. Dixon was second (14.16) was second and Campbell’s Erin Hardnett was third (14.51).

“I know my start is not the best, so I had to focus on that,” said Burr, a junior who won her first state championship. “I relaxed and knew I’d get faster as I worked down the track.

“It feels good to finally win. I was second last year. I wish my time was faster, but I can’t ask for more than a state championship.”

Dixon overcame her runner-up finish in the 100 hurdles to grab the 300 hurdles in 42.78. She trailed Berkmar’s Elexis Guster throughout the race before catching up and passing Guster going over the final hurdle and winning at the line by .05 seconds.

“This is my third time at state and my first state title,” said Dixon, a junior. “I was angry about the 100 (hurdles), so I thought to win the 300 I had to try my hardest and redeem myself. I didn’t want second again.”
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