An injury at the Gwinnett County Track and Field Championships put Kimberly Harris’ junior season in a rough spot.
The Buford standout hurt her hip on a long jump attempt in late March, forcing her to shut down that event for the rest of the season and slowing her down in her marquee running races. But she fought through the issue in the ensuing months, and became a force again on the track.
“I was very happy with her season,” Buford coach Fyrone Davis said of the Daily Post’s Runner of the Year, who he bragged has never missed a high school practice, even with the injury. “She had a phenomenal season once again. She works really, really hard all year. That’s what makes her really special. I was a little concerned after the county meet when she hurt her hip in the long jump. But I know she’s strong and I know she’s a competitor, so I had a good idea she would be okay when she got back.”
She was better than okay.
Harris won the Class AAAAA state titles in the 200- and 400-meter runs, anchored two first-place relay teams and helped the Wolves to their third straight state championship. Her times were impressive — 23.63 seconds in the 200 and 53.28 in the 400 — but not quite the pace she set the previous year in becoming Gwinnett’s all-time record-holder in the 400 at 52.54 seconds.
She tuned up for state with first-place finishes in the 200 and 400 at sectionals.
“I was pretty happy about the season,” said Harris, already a three-time state champ in the 400. “I got hurt during the middle of the season, so it was a lot of trying to get me back out there so that I could compete and run. I ended up coming back for state and winning two state championships individually, so I think I did pretty good. My times could have been a little better, but other than that, I was happy.”
The only downer from the season was the injury kept her from the long jump, an event where she also is the all-time Gwinnett record-holder. She broke the county mark at state as a sophomore when she hit a jump of 20 feet, 2 1/2 inches for the state championship in that event.
“(The long jump) is just different from my normal events,” Harris said. “It’s something fun to do.”
As eye-catching as her long jump record is, it is what Harris does on the track that draws the most attention. She has been on the national recruiting radar for years, and has been communicating regularly with colleges in a process that she calls both stressful and fun.
She hasn’t narrowed down a list of favorites, but knows she plans to major in business management and political science, with a goal of a career in law.
“She’s getting a lot of phone calls daily,” Davis said. “We’ve had USC on the track. We’ve had Florida State, Texas. All those schools have come to our practice. … She’s had some heavy hitters on this track. I see her having a huge, huge future. I think she’s just scratching the surface. A lot of people don’t understand, Kimberly doesn’t do a whole lot of weights right now. When she hits that, I think Kimberly will hit 49 (seconds in the 400) before she’s 20, 21 years of age.”
Up next for Harris is a busy summer, starting next week with a National Scholastic Athletics Foundation trip for races in Cuba. She follows that with New Balance Nationals, then tryouts for the U.S. Under-20 National Team in Florida.
She also is looking forward to her senior season, which allows her to compete against and alongside her younger sister Sydney, an incoming freshman at Buford. Sydney competes in the same events, so there will be head-to-head matchups, as well as working together on relays.
Sharing a team state title with her sister is the No. 1 goal.
“I really want to keep (the state title streak) going throughout my high school career, so hopefully we do it again next year,” Harris said. “That would be four state championships back to back. That’s a really big accomplishment.”