Redan’s girls track coaches waited patiently through the first two days of the Class AAAA state championship May 3-5 in Albany.
Defending champion Southwest DeKalb built a lead through the field and distance events while the Raiders entered the final day on May 5 without a point. Anchored by hurdlers India Hammond and Nikkia Jefferson, Redan scored 58 points to beat runner-up Southwest, which scored 41. It was Redan’s second girls’ state track championship, the first coming in 2005.
“We knew we had the best hurdlers; they’re the backbone of our team,” said Redan coach Takilla Smith. “We were ranked high in the running events so we knew if we could qualify in those events we’d do well at state.”
Jefferson ran a personal best time of 43.35 seconds to win the 300 meter hurdles and Hammond placed second. Hammond was second in the 100 hurdles while Jefferson was third. The duo teamed with Crystal Gray and Jay Johnson to win the 4x100 relay. Also, Gray placed second in the 400 and the Raiders were second in the 4x400 relay.
DeKalb teams swept the top three spots in the AAAA meet with Dunwoody placing third with 38 points. There were two other individual champions from DeKalb schools. Kenya Wheeler of Southwest DeKalb won the shot put, Tatiyana Caffey of Miller Grove won the 400 and Dunwoody placed first in the 4x400 relay.
Also, Marist’s Morgan Ilse and Dunwoody’s Alex Cameron were second and third, respectively, in the 3,200; Demetria Dickens of Southwest was third in the shot put; and Dunwoody’s Erika Banks was second in the 200.
“We knew going into this year that us, Southwest DeKalb and Dunwoody would be very good,” Smith said. “We felt like the state champion would come out of our region and we knew all three would do well at state.”
Unlike many other track programs in the county, Redan’s boys and girls teams train together and participate in the same meets. All three coaches—Smith, head boys coach Willie Griffith and Khary Wright—accompanied the girls to the state meet. And all three will make the trip to Jefferson on May 10 for the boys’ state meet.
“Our better girls compete with the younger guys at practice and it helps both of them get better,” Smith said. “It creates that level of competition for both teams.”
In other classifications, defending Class AAAAA champion M.L. King came up one point short, finishing second to Walton 48-47. Decatur, which won the Class AA title last year, placed third this time.
In the AAAAA meet, Felicia Brown of M.L. King won the 200 with a time of 23.78 seconds and the 400 in 53.89 seconds. The Lions also placed first in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
The only other champion from a school in the county was Ashleigh Rasheed, who won the triple jump for Decatur in the Class AA meet. Rasheed jumped 38 feet, 11.5 inches to win the triple jump. She also placed second in the 300 hurdles. Decatur’s Alaina Cook was second in the 110 hurdles and the Bulldogs were runner up in the 4x400 relay. Decatur scored 52 points as the top four teams were separated by 8.25 points.
In the Class AAA meet, Cedar Grove’s Kayla Pryor was second in the 800 and third in the 300 hurdles. Also, Arabia Mountain’s 4x400 relay team placed second. Cedar Grove, in eighth place, was the top county team in AAA.