Sabria Hadley: New Star Emerges in Lake Wales
Sun. June 10, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | By Rick Brown
Sabria Hadley, Girls Athlete of the Year. Junior, Lake Wales. Hadley was the lone female state champion from Polk. She won the 200 at the Class 2A meet, and consistently posted the fastest time in that event countywide. (Photo by ERNST PETERS | THE LEDGER )
By RICK BROWN | THE LEDGER
LAKE WALES | Lake Wales junior sprinter Sabria Hadley would get really nervous before big meets.
She wasn't as bad as Jamie Foxx's character, Willie Beeman, was before games in the movie "Any Given Sunday," but she often felt nauseous.
The day of the state finals started no different for Hadley. The ending, however, was a surprise.
Hadley, who ran the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay races, took home three medals, including gold in the 200 meters.
She is the PolkPreps.com female track and field athlete of the year.
In the 200, Hadley just outlasted Miami Jackson's Robin Reynolds, who was the favorite in the race. Both finished with the same time (24.09) but Hadley nicked her in the end.
"It was very humbling," Hadley said of winning gold. "Before the race, I didn't think I would win. I was going against strong competitors, and I wasn't feeling good. It was an awesome feeling.
"I didn't expect to win or to perform as well as I did. But I'm being blessed by God every day."
Lake Wales girls coach Demetrius Sanders wasn't surprised at the year Hadley had, which included a third-place finish in the 100 and a second-place finish in the 4x100 relay.
"She worked hard," Sanders said. "She's a hard worker. She never did like the 200, even though I think she's better at the 200. No one wants to run the 200. She didn't have the best getting out (of the blocks), but she maintained and hung in there.
"Her confidence was there, it just had to be brought out. Once she did that, she was ready."
In her first two years, it was easy for Hadley to be in the background. After all, she had one of the county's all-time best runners, Octavious Freeman, leading the way.
Entering this year, with Freeman off to the University of Central Florida, Hadley knew more would be expected of her. Still, her goal was to be the best she could be.
"Everyone knew who I was," she said. "Still, the only pressure I felt was running the second leg of the 4x100. As far as individual races went, I just wanted to better my times.
"For the 100, I wanted to run in the 11s (seconds) again. In the 200, I wanted to run around 24.3. I exceeded my expectations."
Her best time in the 100 was 11.78 seconds, which came in the regional finals. She ran four races in the 11s. Her best 200 time came in the state championships with a run of 24.07 in the preliminaries. She ran a 24.09 in the finals.
Now, Sanders is expecting even better things from Hadley for her senior year.
"Confidence wise, I'm hoping she goes through the ceiling and it rubs off on the other girls," she said. "If she puts in some good hard work, the sky's the limit."
Hadley said she'll be ready.
"Now that I have run the times I have and won state, there's going to be more pressure on me," she said. "I'm just going to take each meet at a time. By doing that, I'll always do my best."