AHS head coach Erik Lege said the championship was the result of months of hard work on the part of the Lady Wildcats.
“The effort that they gave all year was just tremendous,” said Lege. “The result is the big trophy.
“I was down sick for a while and all the credit goes to coach (Ossie) Blaize and coach (Ward) Courville for keeping the ship afloat... It means a lot.”
Charlotte Eaton got Abbeville off to a good start in the field events when she high jumped 5-04 to win the state title in that event. This was Eaton’s first year competing in high jump.
“I’m so excited about this,” said the freshman Eaton. “I really didn’t think that I would come this far, to be honest.”
Paige Cutright also notched points for the Lady Wildcats in the high jump. Her 5-00 effort was good for fourth place and four points.
“Looking at the heat sheets, if everybody did what they were supposed to do, we would score four points in field,” Lege said. “I knew we were much better in the high jump than we were getting credit for. So, if we did well in the high jump it was going to be a good day.”
Instead of four points in field, AHS got fourteen.
“That’s when I started thinking this could be a good day for us,” said Lege.
It was in the running events that the Lady Wildcats really shined, though.
The Abbeville 4x200 meter relay team of Vonchelle Perry, Derrian Nolan, Jayla Nolan and Shatara Small ran that event in 1:43.84 to place first and win the state title in that event.
Those same athletes then ran the 4x100 meter relay in 48.67 to win a second state title.
Perry, a senior leader on the AHS squad who, along with Jayla Nolan, was on the last AHS state championship team in 2010, said she was pleased to end her career as a Lady Wildcat on a high note.
“It feels awesome because now I have two,” she said. “When the year started I had my doubts, because we didn’t look so good. But, things got better and things started to connect for us... There’s a lot of younger girls on the team and they came through for us.”
Perry said the Lady Wildcats success this season was inspired by Lege’s return to the team after suffering a stroke at the start of the track season.
“If he wasn’t going to do it, we weren’t doing it either,” she said. “Without him, we couldn’t have done it. He was our motivation. He pulled through for us and we pulled through for him.”
Abbeville hurdler Katina Perry narrowly missed adding a fourth state championship to the Lady Wildcats’ tally with a 46.10 in the 300 meter hurdles that was good for second place. She finished just 1.46 seconds off the lead.
“The key to me was, besides the high jump, Katina Perry,” said Lege. “On paper she was either fourth or fifth. Those two events decided the championship. It was a lot easier to breathe after that.”
The Abbeville 4x400 meter relay team of Paige Cutright, Arrayia Starlard, Elaina Baytop and Arrianna Winters placed fourth to add four points to the Lady Wildcats’ total with a time of 4:12.00.
Starlard, a freshman, also contributed points to the Abbeville total with a 5:39.18, fourth place effort in the 11600 meter run.
Starlard also put up a 1:02.60 in the 400 meters, which was good for eighth place.
“We knew if she could handle the load we were going to put on her, it would be a good season for us,” said Lege of Starlard.
Derrian Nolan also had the opportunity to compete in the long jump. She placed seventh with a jump of 16-04.75.