Zabasjia Price knew she had it in her.
Thanks to more repetitions and a heavier load in practice, Price had a feeling she was going to deliver a faster time in the hurdles this season. The only problem was the West Lowndes High School sophomore didn’t know when it was going to come.
Price showed last weekend she has a great sense of timing.
Price’s season-best time of 17.94 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles helped her win the event and secure a spot in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State meet Friday at Pearl High School. The Class 3A and Class 5A meets also will be Friday. The Class 2A, 4A, and 6A meets will be Saturday, also at Pearl High.
“I didn’t expect (the time) to come out then,” Price said. “I didn’t feel too well (due to allergies) when we started. The only thing I knew was I had to stay focused and go ahead and run it.”
Price also won the 300 hurdles (51.67) last Saturday at the Class 1A South State meet at Madison Central. She will be joined at the Class 1A meet by seventh-grader Jakayla Anderson and freshman Edmariah Sherrod. Anderson finished second in the 100 (personal-best 13.27) and third in the 400 (1 minute, 5.66 seconds), while Sherrod placed third in the triple jump (28 feet, 9 3/4 inches). It is the first time Anderson and Sherrod have qualified to compete in a state meet.
For Price, the return to the state’s biggest stage will give her a chance to improve on her sixth-place finish in the 100 hurdles (19.74) at the 2014 Class 1A State meet. Price also finished third in the high jump (4-6) at the Class 1A State meet last year, but she opted not to do the event this year.
Instead, Price took on a bigger workload in practice because she was focused getting a medal against some of the state’s best competitors. The result turned out to be season-best times in the 100 and 300 hurdles at the South State meet.
“I knew I was going to finish in the top four, but I didn’t know it was going to be first place in both,” Price said. “It was amazing.”
Sherrod said she did OK last weekend, but she said she feels she could have eclipsed the 30-foot mark. She recorded her personal-best (30-4 1/2) at a meet in Tupelo, and hopes to get more speed on the runway and not stutter-step as she approaches the line. She said it will be important for her to get a step count — usually 14 — in practice so she can get her speed and go.
After competing against older girls at the South State meet, Sherrod is looking forward to the experience of the state’s biggest meet.
“I hope to get at least a 30 or better,” said Sherrod, who said she hopes to compete in track and field in college. “I want to get farther than I did at the Tupelo meet. I am going to try my best to get a 31.
Anderson, who is in her first season with the track and field team, credits her mother and father, who competed in the sport in high school, for providing the motivation for her to pursue her love for running.
“I like the 100 the most because you go as fast as you can and it is done fast,” said Anderson, who also competed on the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. “I am just trying to run as fast as I can. I am just trying to do my best.”
West Lowndes coach Eddie Chapman credits all three Class 1A State meet qualifiers for their hard work and dedication to their events and to the team. He said the girls team also could have qualified one or two relay teams, which would have helped more girls compete in one more meet, but he said he is pleased with the team’s showing and anticipates big things this weekend.
“We have three goals: do your best, finish the race, and improve each and every week,” Chapman said. “This group with only one senior is probably one of the hardest working groups I have had since I have been the girls track coach at West Lowndes. I saw a lot more determination and the will to be successful and the want to be successful.”
Chapman said Sherrod has bounced back from the disappointment of not advancing to the Class 1A State meet last year. He said she also overcame a knee injury to take third in the triple jump at the South State meet. He believes she has a 32-foot jump in her future sometime soon.
Chapman also has confidence in Anderson and Price. He said Anderson showed poise beyond her years by competing against older girls and holding her own. He said Price has been making “little steps” since the seventh grade. One of those steps came when she was an eighth-grade year at the Daily Journal Relays and he needed someone to replace an athlete who wasn’t able to compete in the 300 hurdles due to sickness. He said Price walked by and was deemed a suitable replacement. She took first at that meet and has been making her mark ever since her first time.
“I didn’t expect Zabasjia to finish first in the 100 hurdles because the girl she beat beat her at division and at region,” Chapman said. “When you see the kids do that and put forth that effort and work to make it a goal, to see her beat that girl, it is hard to say (how special that is).”
Joshua King and Kalan Harris will represent the West Lowndes High boys at the Class 1A State meet. King finished third in the 100 (11.42) and 200 (23.31) and second in the 400 (54.20), while Harris was second in the high jump (5-6). The West Lowndes boys 4×400 relay team finished second (3:54.66) and will compete this weekend.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.