Albemarle track star sets state records as Bulldog women take second in 1A state meet

Published 4:32 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

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Akala Garrett’s times in the hurdle events she has run this season for the Albemarle women’s track team have been record setting on many levels.

The trend continued this weekend at North Carolina A&T in the 1A state meet where the Bulldog senior set three individual state records and was part of a new state relay race record.

As a team, Albemarle finished as state runners-up with 83 points, with Swain County winning the state title with 100 points.

Garrett was unstoppable at the 1A state meet, winning three more individual state titles and setting records in those events en route to the Most Outstanding Athlete award for the meet.

In the 200-meter dash, Garrett set the 1A state meet mark finishing in 24.25 seconds, besting the old 1A mark by .61 seconds. Jalee Brown of South Stokes was second place in the event with a 25.50 mark, while Albemarle’s Amari Baldwin medaled, placing fourth in 26.21 seconds.

In the 100-meter hurdles, Garrett’s time of 13.52 seconds destroyed the old 1A mark of 14.17 seconds set in 2001 by Chandra Pullian of Cummings. Garrett’s time was nearly two seconds faster in this weekend’s meet to the second-place finisher, Mountain Island Charter’s Natalie Patton (15.41 seconds).

Garrett’s most impressive finish was in the 300-meter hurdles, where she ran a time of 40.26 seconds. She was nearly 4.7 seconds faster than the second-place finisher, North Rowan’s Tal’iah Ward. Garrett’s time also set the state meet record regardless of classification, besting Clayton’s Keni Harrison’s 41.41 in 2011.

Albemarle’s 4×400 meter relay team of Baldwin, Garrett, Abigail Clayton and Mary Grace Krol was the only team to finish in the 1A meet under four minutes (3:57.16). The time also set a 1A record for the state meet.

Having been significantly faster than most of her competition this season, Garrett said she focused “on kind of beating my own shadow, thinking like I’m getting chased and beating the clock.”

Knowing she was running in her final state meet, she added, “pushed myself to a point where I had not pushed myself before…my performance, when things are on the line, it breaks out under pressure.”

Breaking the overall state record of 40.4 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles, her specialty, was a motivating factor for her all season long.

Garrett finishes her high school career with 15 individual state titles in indoor and outdoor track, including the 4×400 relay event this year.

Regarding the relay win, she said she and her teammates “have had eyes on that record for the whole season…the way we all worked together was amazing. It wasn’t me leading; it was the four of us working together and giving our all which put us into this position.”

The Bulldogs also medaled in the 4×200 meter relay race, finishing fourth in 1:49.82. Mountain Island won the event with a time of 1:45.03.

Krol medaled for Albemarle, taking fourth in the long jump with a 15-foot-10 distance. Shuler took the gold medal with a distance of 17-foot-4.

Baldwin finished second in the triple jump with a 35-foot-2. Robbinsville’s Zoie Shuler took first with a 37-foot-2.25 jump.

Jasmine Brown placed second in the 1A women’s shot put with a distance of 35-foot-9.75. Brittany Ellis of North Rowan took first with a distance of 36-foot-8.

Brown also finished second in the discus with a 106-foot-10 distance. Ellis won the gold with a 111-foot-11 distance.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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