CARROLLTON — Buford’s girls knew what they had to do in order to gain their third straight state championship. The Wolves not only got that job done, they did it in record-setting fashion by outdoing even their own high standards.
Kimberly Harris broke her own state record in the 400-meter dash, and then teamed with Britiney Johnson, Trinity Price and Trinity Rossum to break another state record already owned by Buford in the 1,600 relay to cap a 68-point day and give the Wolves their three-peat by winning the Class AAAAAAA title Saturday at Grisham Stadium.
“The effort was phenomenal,” Buford coach Fyrone Davis said. “The girls came in with a positive attitude (Saturday) morning. That was the most important things we talked about all week — to be positive. Don’t be negative.”
Harris gave Davis and the Wolves plenty to be positive about. Her new record in the 400 was 53.28 seconds — better by three-hundreths of a second than her own record set last year — while she and her 1,600 relay teammates’ time of 3:44.28 bested another Buford year-old state record by 14-hundreths of a second.
Add in her individual state championship in the 200 in a time of 23.63 seconds and her part in the championship 400 relay team with Price, Rossum and Phoenix Armstead (in 46.25 seconds), and Harris brought in 25 of Buford’s 72 total points for the weekend, which earned her the meet’s high-point award and helped the Wolves sprint past runner-up Miller Grove’s 43 points and third-place Jackson-Atlanta’s 41.
The fact that her performance came only about a month after having to sit out the Gwinnett County championship meet with a hip injury made it even more satisfying for her.
“It’s really amazing to me to go through this process and have the record under my name again,” Harris said. “To keep improving, knowing that I’m improving over the year is pretty great for me.
“To be able to come back so fast is a really good thing. You hear about people being out for a while, and when I was in eighth grade, I pulled my hamstring and I was out for a really long time. So for me to be able to turn around in three weeks, four weeks is a really good thing.”
Harris and her teammates in the 400 relay looked in prime condition when they got the day off to a flying start for the Wolves, who entered Saturday’s events with only four team points, by winning the opening event of the day.
“It really set the tone for the rest of the day,” Davis said. “We went 45.19 (seconds) in the (preliminary heat), so we knew we had a shot to come in (Saturday) and do what we need to do.”
Meanwhile, Harris’ first-place finishes were complemented by other strong performances, like Price’s third-place finish in the 400 and a runner-up finish by Rossum and a fifth-place showing by Armstead in the 100, plus a fifth-place finish by Debra Ogundimu in the 100 hurdles and a fourth-place finish by Rossum in the 200, which helped the Wolves pile up the points.
Buford’s boys didn’t have quite as many qualifiers for Saturday’s finals as the girls, but were able to score enough to vault themselves to a tie for 14th place in the team standings with 18 points.
The Wolves got a sixth-place finish by the 400 relay team of Isaiah Bond, Gabe Ervin, and Jamarius Isaac and Elijah Turner, an eighth-place finish by Davin Bryant in the 110 hurdles and a fifth-place finish by the 1,600 relay team of Ben Archer, Bayley Hunter, Ervin and Amari Wansley.
In Class AAAAAA, both of Gwinnett’s teams found their way in the top five in the boys team standings.
Dacula placed fourth with 29.50 behind strong finishes by Christopher Scott in the 100 and 200 and a seventh-place finish by the 400 relay team of Scott, Jaylen Brown, Tevon Shuler and Christin Jones.
Lanier was only a half-point behind in fifth with 29 points on the strength of a 1-2 finish by Zachary Charles and Nahil Perkins in the 300 hurdles, plus a fourth-place showing by Charles, Perkins, Tuari Claiborne and Isaiah Smith in the 1,600 relay.
In the girls competition, Dacula wasn’t able to add on to any points built up by its field competitors earlier in the week and remained at 16 points, good for 16th place.
Meanwhile, Lanier moved up to a tie for 24th place with nine points on the strength of a seventh-place finish from Kalen Surles in the 100.