(pictured above: Miaysha Bryant, Ebony Williams, Erin Morrison and Katlin Sherman celebrate their victory.)
Three months ago, the Parkland girls’ 4×200 relay team tasted bitter defeat in a second-place finish at the New Balance Indoor Track Nationals. The Mustangs lost by .19 seconds to New Rochelle (NY).
Three months later, Parkland flipped the script.
Running under the banner of the Mustangs Track Club, the foursome of Katlin Sherman, Ebony Williams, Miaysha Bryant and Erin Morrison made amends at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals held last weekend in Greensboro. The Mustangs won the 4×200 national title convincingly by posting a season-best time of 1 minute, 36.80 seconds.
The victory was especially sweet because the Mustangs, ranked fifth nationally, handled formidable Northwestern (Miami, Fla.), which was No. 2 in the rankings. The title win also represented a form of payback to indoor national champs New Rochelle, who ended up in fifth place (1:41.02).
Entering the nationals, Parkland was fifth in the national rankings in the 4×200. Running under the banner of the Mustangs Track Club, the foursome of Katlin Sherman, Ebony Williams, Miaysha Bryant and Erin Morrison delivered their fastest time of the season with a clocking of 1 minute, 36.80 seconds.
“Usually, we’re favored to win, but this time, we weren’t rated that high,” said Williams. “So that really motivated us. We had to get off our high horses and understand that it was up to us to go out and take it.”
The race started with the Mustangs and Northwestern tied for the lead after the first leg. Northwestern went in front on the second leg when Twanisha Terry exploded into the turn to take a momentary lead. Williams made up ground coming down the straightaway to give Parkland a five-meter cushion.
On the third leg, Bryant turned in her best 200 split of the year (23.56 seconds) and Morrison completed the championship mission for Parkland with a strong anchor leg. Northwestern finished as the runner-up at 1:37.10.
Entering the nationals, Coach Antwan Hughes wasn’t sure what to expect from his relay team. It had been nearly a month since they last competed (state outdoor championships) and during that time, they didn’t get as much practice time as Hughes would have liked.
“This race wasn’t about us running our fastest time of the season,” he said. “It was all about bringing home the gold. Everybody ran extremely well, but the key for us was Miaysha. She trimmed a full second off her usual 200 time, and that put us in excellent position for Erin’s anchor leg.”
The Mustangs victory was decisive, but everything did not go smoothly. The timing of the exchange between Sherman and Williams on the first and second leg was off. As a result, Northwestern took the lead, but with 90 meters to go, Williams made her move.
Morrison relied on her 400 stamina to help the Mustangs secure the victory. Northwestern anchor Lakayla Harris cut into the lead, but Morrison finished strong coming down the final stretch to put the Mustangs ahead by three meters at the end. “The ultimate goal for me was to run all the way through the finish line,” said Morrison. “I couldn’t start smiling until after the race. Winning at the nationals is an amazing feeling. Hopefully, we can do this again next year.”