A few weeks ago, Greater Atlanta Christian track and field coach Brad Kinser sat in his office with runner Maileka Slayton.
The two talked about the upcoming season and how Slayton could improve on last year's performance.
"Partly, it's setting some goals. Try to do a little better than last year," Kinser said. "One of the goals we've talked about is going from being the best in (Class) AA to one of the best in the state of Georgia."
That would be a nice goal for Slayton, who dominated the state track meet last year in Albany.
Slayton won four state championships last season to lead the Spartans to the team state title. Now the senior has the daunting task of an encore performance.
"I definitely want to go back to the state meet and repeat," Slayton said. "I want to go after the 100 AA record and the 200 record. Because I broke the relay records last year, but I'd like to break the 100 and 200 records."
Slayton set the bar pretty high for herself last season. She won state titles in the 100- and 200-meter runs. She was also on the the state champion 400-and 1,600-meter relay teams that set state records with times of 46.99 seconds and 3 minutes, 51 seconds, respectively. The four state titles made her the high-scorer at the state meet and gave GAC its second team championship in four years.
"I didn't think that was possible," Slayton said of her state meet success. "It was almost surreal. I remember thinking this is actually really happening. It didn't sink in until a few weeks later."
To make the story even more improbable, Slayton had never qualified for the state meet. As a sophomore, she finished fourth at the region meet in the 100 and 200.
"She's always been really good and one of the top people," Kinser said. "It just seems like last year she just took the step from being a really good sprinter to a great sprinter."
That step came in the summer after her sophomore year. Slayton's parents heard about a guy in Dunwoody that trained high school track runners.
"If track is something you're serious about, there's this guy you can go train with if you want to get better," Slayton recalled.
It turns out that guy was former Olympian Antonio McKay, who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.
"He's ran on the biggest stage and gives us a lot of life principals and really knows what he's talking about," Slayton said. "When he pushes us, he knows how hard to push us because he himself has been trained as an Olympic athlete. He never pushes too hard. He pushes us to be our best."
After her first offseason with McKay, Slayton won four state titles and got two state records. Now with two years of offseason training under McKay, she feels like she can do more damage.
Slayton feels like she can improve on her school record times of 12.10 seconds in the 100 and 24.56 seconds in the 200.
"I think he's inspired her a lot," Kinser said of McKay. "She's a testament to someone who took God-given talent and said, 'I want to be the best I can be and I'm going to do what it takes to be good.'"
Slayton's picked up scholarship offers from Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State, but is waiting to see if she gets anymore with a strong senior year.
"The last couple of years, she just kind of put it all together," Kinser said. "Last year she had a great year."