With no Midlands teams in serious contention for a state championship, the area storyline line at this weekend’s Class 4A state track meet at Lower Richland figures to be individual in nature.
The spotlight falls on Ridge View senior Sierra Henderson, Blythewood senior Christopher Maxwell and Irmo senior Rashad Mallette.
Henderson looks to become the first 4A runner, male or female, to win three straight 800-meter titles. The Blazers star earned her first title in the demanding event in 2007 with a time of 2:15.43 and picked up her second gold medal in the event last year, clocking in with a state-record time of 2:13.30. Henderson enters with the top qualifying time (2:17.0), and has a shot at picking up a gold medal on the Blazers’ 3200 relay team that finished second at state last year and enters with the top qualifying time.
Maxwell had a big state meet in 2008 when Blythewood was still at the Class 3A level – winning the 400, finishing second in the 200 and running a leg on the Bengals second-place 400 relay team. He enters his first 4A state gathering with the top qualifying time in the 400, the third-best qualifying time in the 200 and spot on the favored 400 relay team.
Mallett broke Irmo’s six-year state gold medal drought last season with his win in the 100 hurdles. Mallett can become only the second Yellow Jacket to claim back-to-back titles in any state event with a repeat performance. C.J. Frye won consecutive discus titles in 1998-99.
Dutch Fork’s Niki Klasnic and Taiana LaPorte, Irmo’s Jamekia Wilson and Spring Valley’s Matthew Johnson, Michael Johnson and Xylina McDaniel are other Midlands athletes with gold medal hopes.
Klasnic, a senior who did not qualify last season, enters her final prep outing with the top qualifying times in the 1600 and 3200. Teammate LaPorte had the top qualifying height in the high jump last week at 5-4. She finished seventh at state last season.
Matthew and Michael Johnson finished 1-2 in the 800 at last week’s state qualifying meet, and both ran legs on Spring Valley’s 3200 relay team that beat defending champion Wando at the qualifier. McDaniel, a freshman, had the top qualifying heave of 38-8. Spring Valley’s last girls shot put champion was Tamara Washington in 1997.
Wilson, a sophomore who did not qualify a year ago, was the top qualifier in the 100 hurdles last week with a scorching time of 13.94. The only female in state history to have a winning time under 14 seconds in the event is Pendleton star Jasmine Stowers, who set the record (13.90) in 2006 and went 13.94 last year. Wilson could well set a new state mark in Saturday’s morning session, and have Stowers break it in the afternoon.