Jenkins’ Abnathy, Kathleen’s Bryant Lead Polk Track Contenders
Fri. May 06, 2011 at 12:23 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
[caption id="attachment_10385" align="alignleft" width="477" caption="VICTORIA ABNATHY will run in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles at the 3A state meet. (PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER) "][/caption] By RICK BROWN THE LEDGER There's no question, Lake Wales' sprinter Octavious Freeman is the queen of track and field in Polk County. But if Freeman is the queen, then Kathleen's Shalaneya Bryant and George Jenkins' Tori Abnathy are definitely in her court. Bryant and Abnathy lead contenders from Polk County into today's Class 3A state track and field meet at Showalter Field in Winter Park. Both runners have had trials this season that threatened to derail their trek to the state finals. But both have overcome and are in position for a state title. Abnathy, a junior, will run in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She has the third best time in the 300-meter hurdles, while she is just a half-second off the leader in the 100-meter hurdles. This despite suffering a bout of mononucleosis during the season. "I still practiced, but my time was getting slower," Abnathy said. "I wasn't as strong. I started to get better, but I still didn't think I would go to state." But Abnathy easily won districts and regionals and actually thinks the infection might have helped her. Abnathy, PolkPreps.com's Girls Soccer Player of the Year, had been to state her previous two seasons but fell in during events both years. "Last year, I put way too much pressure on myself," she said. "I know I'm not going to be 100 percent, but I think it calmed my nerves. I'm not expected to win. It would be great to get first, but if I don't, I'm not going to be hard on myself." Bryant, a senior, is arguably the second-best girls' sprinter in the county. She will run the 100 meters and 200 meters and anchor the 4x100 relay team. Bryant is seeded second in the 100 meters, a little more than a tenth of a second slower than the top time. She accomplished this despite a kidney infection that curtailed her training. She also had a bout with low blood, which weakened her when she didn't take her iron pills and is dealing with an ankle sprain. "I'm excited," she said. "This is my chance to show what I've got. It's been a lot of hard work and sweat, but it's been fun. I've gotten to state, but I haven't accomplished what I set out to do yet – winning." Her coach LeDarius Haggins is proud of Bryant. "This year she had big goals but had the setback when she got sick," he said. "But she still has a chance to hit all of her goals. She won districts, won regionals. Now she has a chance to win state. I think she can do it.