(pictured above: Katlin Sherman indicates that she is #1 from the victory stand.)
The coronation took place as expected. Parkland’s girls delivered a no-doubt-about-it victory Saturday, taking the team title at the Class 4-A State Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Greensboro.
Boosted by stellar performances in the jumps, sprints and sprint relays, Parkland finished with 89 points to win comfortably over runner-up Raleigh Wakefield (51) and third-place finisher Asheville T.C. Roberson (48).
“In some ways, it’s a relief, but it’s also what we expected,” said Coach Antwan Hughes. “Entering the championships, we we were favored to win, so we had a target on our backs. I’m thrilled that our ladies did what everyone thought they would do. They did an outstanding job.”
Ila Mumford set the tone for victory in the morning session with a second-place finish in the long jump (18-feet, 4 inches) and third-place finish in the triple jump (37-feet, 11 inches). The preliminary rounds went as expected, with Katlin Sherman and Myshale Spigner (100m) and Ebony Williams (100 hurdles) advancing to the finals of their events.
“Ila got us off to a great start,” said Hughes “Then Katlin, Myshale and Ebony ran well in the prelims and made the finals, so that gave us momentum for the rest of the day.”
The Mustangs were led by Sherman, who won the 100m and 200m in impressive fashion. Williams posted a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles (13.76 seconds). Parkland accumulated additional points in the 400m, courtesy of Erin Morrison (who was second at 56.06 seconds) and McKinley McNeill (third at 56.32 seconds).
Sherman had problems with her starts in both rounds of the 100. In spite of her issues, she regrouped in the final to win in 11.88 seconds. In the process, she ran down frontrunners Sydnei Murphy of Apex (11.97) and Ama-Selina Tchume of Wakefield (12.06). In the 200, Sherman ran 24.05 seconds while fighting off fatigue and serious challenges from state 400 champ Layla White of Cary (24.39) and Tchume (24.40).
“God was on my side,” said Sherman, a junior. “With those bad starts (in the 100), I kept my focus and realized that as long as I did all the right things, I would catch everybody, and that’s exactly what happened. I knew I’d be tired in the 200. So, when I got on the last straightaway, I cranked it up and gave it everything I had.”
The sprint relays proved to be the exclusive domain for the Mustangs, who broke their own state records from last year in the 4×100 and 4×200. Mumford, Spigner, Sherman and Miaysha Bryant ran 46.99 seconds in the 4×100 to beat Wakefield (47.45) decisively.
In the 4×200, Sherman, Williams, Bryant and Morrison clocked 1 minute, 36.99 seconds – the fifth-fastest time in the country – to win handily over Greensboro Dudley (1:41.63). Parkland put the icing on its championship display with a dominant showing in the 4×400. Spigner, Morrison, McNeill and Williams proved to be in a class by themselves with a time of 3 minutes, 47.88 seconds. Second-place Cary, which was seven seconds off the winning pace, was the closest challenger at 3:54.72.
The day was nearly perfect for the Mustangs, but there was one noticeable glitch that surfaced in the 300 hurdles. Williams, ranked among the state’s top three all season long, had the lead coming down the final straightaway. But with two hurdles to go, she clipped a hurdle and fell to the track, which erased any chance of victory.
The team victory caps a momentous year for the Mustangs, who won the Class 4-A State Indoor Track and Field Championships in February. In Hughes’s view, winning another team championship serves as confirmation of what happens when talented athletes dedicate themselves to their sport of choice.
“It’s been a remarkable year,” he said. “Our ladies put in a lot of hard work to make it happen. It’s been paying off all year and at the state meet, it definitely paid off. They deserve all the accolades that come their way.”