Veteran Spalding High track and field coach Dolores Owen carries five athletes to Albany today to compete in the girl’s Class AAA state track and field meet this weekend at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Included are Class AAA 800 defending champ Jenna Wesley — who will defend her title in the 800 and also run in the mile for the fourth year in a row — as well as LiAnne Harris (3200), Mary Owen Howell (pole), Nykerria Conley (pole) and Abbie Argo (special needs shot).
The only one of the lot with prior experience at state is Wesley.
As a freshman in 2008 she ran a then-school record 5:26.2 to place eighth in the mile and a 2:23 to place seventh in the 800. As a sophomore she placed sixth in the mile and following it up last year with a school-record run of 5:21.170 in the mile — good enough for seventh-place — and a state-championship run of 2:15.11 in the 800.
“She’s the most decorated athlete in school history — boy or girl,” Owen said of the team’s lone senior headed to state.
Harris, who finished Region 4-AAA runner-up in the 3200 (13:04), is a freshman as is Argo, who won the Region 4-AAA championship in the special needs shot (16-11 1/2), while Howell, a freshman, and Conley, a junior, are first-year pole vaulters.
Howell cleared 6-06 to win the Region 4-AAA championship, while Conley cleared 6-foot even to finish runner-up. Owen said both will have to be on their game at state, because they set the bar at 7 feet to start.
Wesley, meanwhile, heads to state with the greatest amount of steam after winning region championships in the 800 (2:17) and 1600 (5:33).
“She wants to go for the all-time state record of 2:12,” said Owen, who warned her, “Bad things can happen when you go after a record.”
Wesley is fully aware.
“I take a chance of dying out and someone catching me,” she said at practice Tuesday.
She talked to another former champion in the mile, SHS’s Will Ficklen, about strategy earlier this week.
“I can either go in with the mindset I’m going to beat the state record or I want to be a two-time champion,” said Wesley. “Everyone always ask me if I still get nervous — I do.”
“I’ll just see how I feel that day,” she added.
Spalding High Girl’s Track & Field History at State Meet
Year Athletes Events Points 2011 5 6 tba
2010 4 8 29
2009 5 6 5
2008 4 4 1
2007 6 4 0
2006 4 4 0
2005 4 4 0
2004 1 1 0
2003 0 0 0
2002 0 0 0
2001 0 0 0
SHS Athletes at State
Spalding High athletes who have qualified for the state track and field meet today through Saturday at in Albany:
n Jenna Wesley: Region 4-AAA champion in the 800 (2:17) and 1600 (5:330 as well as the defending Class AAA state champ in the 800 (2:15.11).
n Mary Owen Howell: Region 4-AAA champ in the pole vault (6-06).
n Li Anne Harris: Region 4-AAA runner-up in the 3200 (13:04).
n Nykerria Conley: Region 4-AAA runner-up in the pole vault (6-00).
n Abbie Argo: Region 4-AAA champ in the special needs shot (16-11 1/2).