The Francis Marion 4×400 meter girls relay team pulled off a state championship win over the weekend in a nail-biter of a race. Kristalyn Steadman took her team out into an immediate lead during the first leg, running her fastest split of the season. Antashay Wilson, in what was only her second time running the relay – or a 400m race at all – fought hard with Westminster’s second leg, who pulled away from her in the last 100 meters. Jamecia Hurt closed the gap within striking distance for the final leg run by Le’Naya Essex. Essex chased her opponent down like a lion chases its prey. She knew that it was all up to her.
Essex knew she could either catch the leading Westminster last leg runner for 1st by pushing past the pain she was no doubt feeling after less than an hour’s rest following her 800-meter finals, or she could run hard for 2nd place knowing Rams fans would all still be proud of the team.
As she made the turn into the last 100m stretch, she reached down deep and pulled out the kick that her team needed, passing the Westminster team in the last 50 meters. The crowd went wild, her coaches were crying, and her three relay teammates jumped for joy.
“These four young ladies put it all on the track and left nothing back,” said Coach John Bolding. “They will forever remember that moment standing on the top of the podium reflecting on how hard work during the season and resilience on the track, even when their bodies were saying no, can take them to the top.”
The 4×400 meter relay team wasn’t the only team or competitors the Rams fielded to have success this weekend. The girls’ 4×100 meter relay team, run by Antashay Wilson, Elanna Lewis, Ke’Lashia Shelton, and Asia Clemons, placed 2nd out of 15 teams. “LaFayette High School better watch out for these ladies next year!” said Bolding. “They’re all returning next season and will be gunning for that state championship!”
Le’Naya Essex also took 3rd in the open 400-meter dash.
Here are more highlights:
• The girls’ team placed 6th out of 30 teams. With the lessons learned by the coaches this season and the right recruiting for next year, the Rams’ girls team could bring home the team state championship next season, said coaches.
• Kristalyn Steadman placed 5th out of 23 in the 400m and 7th out of 22 in the 300m hurdles.
• Jemecia Hurt placed 6th in the 400m 8th out of 15 in the high jump.
• Le’Naya Essex placed 11th out of 24 in the 800m.
• Antasia Moore placed 6th out of 23 in the 100m handles.
• Yasmine Murphy placed 11th out of 22 in the 300m hurdles.
• The girls 4x800m relay team, run by Kristalyn Steadman, Kennedi Sims, Jamecia Hurt, and Le’Naya Essex placed 6th out of 12 teams.
• Deldrick Shelton placed 9th out of 23 in the 400m and 8th out of 22 in the long jump.
• Javion Davis placed 12 out of 23 in the 400m.
• The boys’ 4x400m relay team, run by Deldrick Shelton, Devon Mayhand, Ar’Jzon Jones, and Javion Davis, placed 5th out of 12 teams.
• Lionel Hinton placed 6th in the discus and 12th out of 24 in the shot put.
• Tyler Billingsley placed 18th out of 24 in the discus. Billingsley came into the meet ranked 24, but he threw his best to reach 18th place.