It’s been nearly two weeks since the Parkland girls’ track team made school history by winning the Class 4-A state indoor championship. It marked the first time that the school’s girls’ squad had won a state title in any sport. The afterglow of victory is still very evident.
“I’m still taking it all in,” said Coach Antwan Hughes. “I’m so proud of the ladies and their accomplishment. They’ve worked so hard since training started in September and they deserved to win. All along, I’ve been telling them that they are the best team in the state. Maybe now they’ll believe me, and hopefully this will carry over in every competition we’re in from now until the end of the outdoor season. We want to keep riding that momentum.”
Even though the Mustangs failed to win an individual title, their group effort proved to be too much to handle for powerhouse Raleigh Wakefield, this year’s runner-up. On a championship Saturday, Parkland got the maximum out of its eight athletes. In nine events, six Mustangs either matched or surpassed their previous personal bests.
In the track events, Ebony Williams led the way with second place finishes in the 55 hurdles (8.13) and 300 (39.77). Katlin Sherman was third in the 300 (39.83) and Erin Morrison placed fourth in the 500 (1:16.89).
Strong performances in the jumping events gave Parkland a decisive advantage in the chase for the championship trophy. Ila Mumford finished second in the triple jump (36-10 ½) and fourth in the long jump (17-10 ¾) while teammates Nateja Hale (35-10 ½ in the triple jump) and Sherman (5-2 in the high jump) both posted fifth-place finishes.
Hughes was not surprised with the Mustangs’ showing in the jumps.
“For those on the outside looking in, it probably came as a shock,” said Hughes. “But that was part of the master plan. Tyrone Holman (an assistant who coaches hurdles and jumps) and I have talked about that all season. We felt that if we could do well in the jumps, it would be the key for us to win the state. We knew they could do it and they delivered.”
The final tally of points at the state meet had Parkland edging Wakefield 51-49 for the top spot. However, had it not been for a controversial call involving the Mustangs in the 4×400 relay, the margin of victory would’ve been greater than two points. Parkland finished second in that race behind Wakefield, but was disqualified.
According to Hughes, officials ruled that after crossing the finish line, anchor runner Morrison showed poor sportsmanship when she threw the baton to the track, supposedly in anger because Parkland didn’t win. Hughes acknowledged that Morrison did lose control of the baton, but it was not intentional.
“The baton just slipped out of her hand,” said Hughes. “Erin doesn’t carry herself in that manner. She works hard, she’s a dedicated athlete and she respects the sport.”