CARROLLTON — Buford’s Kimberly Harris saved her longest jump ever for last, and it set up perhaps the biggest moment in her still-young high school track career.
At Thursday afternoon’s Class AAAAA girls long jump finals at Carrollton High School, Harris watched Griffin’s Sade James jump 19 feet, 11 1/2 inches. Harris had never jumped more than 19 feet before, but she somehow mustered a miraculous, record-breaking 20-2 1/2 leap on her final jump to take home the state title, the third of her career.
The distance, according to the public address announcer at the podium, was the 10th longest recorded in state history and enough for her to jump from third place at this year’s competition into first. The best part for Buford is that Harris is a sophomore.
“It’s surprising, because I was not expecting to jump 20 feet, 2 1/2 inches,” Harris said. “For me to do that and have my coaches around and everybody cheering with me, it was a very big deal.”
Harris, also one of the state’s top sprinters in the 400 meters and 200, had never even jumped that far in practice when she typically trains for her sprinting and relay events.
Harris wasn’t totally sure where the sudden jolt of energy came from, but she suspects adrenaline had something to do with it.
“I really wanted to win,” Harris said. “Last year I came in second place by one inch, so this year I really wanted to make sure that I won.”
Harris joined Dacula discus thrower Elsie Igberaese as the two Gwinnett County representatives to stand on the top of the podium on the first day of the state championships. Igberaese won the state championship for girls discus throw in Class AAAAAA, her first ever state championship.
Last year, Igberaese came in second place in the discus throw to her older sister Chelsea Igberaese.
“I’m really blessed, I’m honored and I’m excited,” Igberaese said. “I had some trouble early in the season getting my throws off, but I (set a personal record) at state and it’s an amazing feeling.”
The junior’s state championship throw was 142-3, topping second place by more than 10 feet. Her earlier best throw was 121-9 3/4, which would have slotted her in third place had it stood.
Igberaese said she struggled to get comfortable at first. She scratched her first throw but qualified for the finals with her third throw. That’s when she caught a second wind.
“The second round I found confidence and I really went after it,” she said. “I fouled a throw about 140. I went out for the fifth throw and threw that 142. That’s an all-time PR for me.”
Igberaese was mere feet away from a second state title in shot put, but her personal record throw of 39-8 was bested by Heritage’s Camille Saunders on her final throw.
Saunders won the title with a throw distance of 41-2 1/2. While disappointed she couldn’t win, Igberaese reflected on the gains she’s made since sectionals where she qualified with a 36-11 throw. She tore her PCL during the high school softball season, which set back her training regimen for shot put and discus. Now she’s looking forward to a full season ahead of her at Dacula, hopefully without the hindrance of a critical injury.
“Shot put is not my strongest event, but I’m definitely happy the way I performed,” she said. “To come up here and throw a PR, I’m proud of myself and so excited for what next season brings.”
Buford’s Sierra Sieracki placed fourth in high jump (5-2), and Jalen Anderson placed 10th in the discus throw (131-09). Anthony Grant capped off the day for the Wolves with an 11th-place long jump distance of 20-8 3/4.
Dacula’s Adam Watkins placed fifth in boys shot put thanks to a 50-5 on his first throw. Hayley Moore was 11th in girls discus throw (100-1 3/4).
Lanier’s Mya Williams notched a fourth-place finish in the Class AAAAAA girls triple jump (36-8) and seventh in high jump (5-0) and the Longhorns’ Morgan Manley slotted ninth in long jump (17-0.5).
The meet continues today with qualifying heats for running events and 3,200 finals. After seven scored events, Buford is sixth in Class AAAAA girls standings. Dacula is third in the girls Class AAAAAA standings and Lanier is No. 17.
GHSA Class AAAAA-AAAAAA Track and Field State Championships
1. Fayette County, 30
2. Flowery Branch, 20
3. Carver Atlanta, 18
3. Miller Grove, 18
5. Veterens, 16
6. Buford, 15
7. Whitewater, 14
7. Wooland Cartersville, 14
9. McIntosh, 12
10. Grady 10.50
1. Alexander, 32
2. Harrison, 27.5
3. Dacula, 18
4. Johns Creek, 17
5. Glynn Academy, 16
6. Dunwoody, 14
7. Creekview, 13
8. Douglas County, 12
8. New Manchester, 12
10. Winder-Barrow, 11
10. Heritage, 11
17. Lanier, 6.5
1. Taniyah Worth, Flowery Branch, 5-04
2. Kayla Williams, Miller Grove, J5-4
3. Jania Joseph, Statesboro, 5-02
4. Sierra Sieracki, Buford, J5-02
5. Mutnodjmet Debnam, Grady, 5-0
5. Patra Williams, Arabia Mountain, J5-0
7. Caroline Lassiter, Loganville, J5-0
7. Theresa Riccio, Riverwood, J5.0
1. Kimberlee Harris, Buford, 20-02.5
2. Sade James, Griffin, 19-11.5
3. Na’ilah Moore, Fayette COunty, 18-10.5
4. Khiara White, Chamblee, 18-07
5. Jadaja Baxter, Riverwood, 18-06.25
6. Attallah Smith, Arabia Mountain, 18-05
7. Gabrielle Vincent, New Hampstead, 18-04
8. Keyara Robinson, Hiram, 18-05
1. Elsie Igberaese, Dacula, 142-03
2. Alivyah Floyd, Glynn Academy, 132-01
3. Madelyn Horne, Johns Creek, 131-05.5
4. Dakota Walker, Sprayberry, 119-02.25
5. Chanice Campbell, Alexander, 117-03.5
6. Landry Solomon, Alexander, 114-08.75
7. Levonis Davis, Houston County, 110-01.5
8. Rebekah Freeman, Winder-Barrow, 109-11.25
1. Jazzmin Taylor, Alexander, 5-06
2. Jordan Jones, Harrison, J5-06
3. Kyarra Newton, Greenbrier, 5-04
3. Alana Simpson, Harrison, 5-04
5. Mikayla Williams, Douglas County, J5-04
6. Zoesha Smith, Glynn Academy,5-02
7. Mya Williams, Lanier, 5-0
7. Tykia White, ML King, 5-0
Camille Saunders, Heritage, 41-02.5
Elsie Igberaese, Dacula, 39-08
Taylor Smith, Creekview, 38-08
Alivyah Floyd, Glynn Academy, 38-07
Nakia Hooks Apalachee, 37-05.5
Levonis Davis, Houston County, 37-03
Dakota Walker, Sprayberry, 36-05.25
Kiona Lindsay, Winder-Barrow, 35-05
1. Northview, 25
2. Houston County, 20
3. Heritage, 19
3. Alpharetta, 19
6. Northside-Warner Robins, 14
6. Glynn Academy, 14
6. Bradwell Institute, 14
9. Effingham County, 13
10. Winder-Barrow, 12
22. Dacula, 4
*Through first seven events
Braxton Golden, Norside-Warner Robins, 54-01.25
KJ Milner, Bradwell Institute, 51-10.25
Logan Cash, Winder-Barrow, 50-11.75
Marlone Taylor, Glynn Academy, 50-07.25
Adam Watkins, Dacula,50-05
Jame Patrick Daniels, Allatoona, 49-06.75
Jameon Gaskin, Coffee, 49-06.5
Jamal Ellis, Alpharetta, 49-02.5