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Seventh grader leads list of state track qualifiers

Four local schools had students qualify for the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s state track and field meets, which will take place Thursday-Saturday in Cullman (1A-3A) and Gulf Shores (4A-7A).

Here’s a look at each school who had qualifiers and how they fared:
Ellwood Christian (1A)

Ellwood Christian will have siblings Rashni and Malachi Walker competing at the AHSAA state track meet in Cullman after both had strong showings over the weekend in Tuscaloosa. Both figure to have real chances at top five finishes in 1A.

Rashni, a seventh grader, qualified first in the girls 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles and fifth in the long jump. Malachi, a freshman, will participate in the boys 400-meter dash, the boys 800-meter run and the boys triple jump.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this,” said Ellwood coach Jeffery Walker, who is also Rashni and Malachi’s father. “This is their first year competing in high school track and field so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s going to be [like.]

Both Malachi and Rashni take part in track and field events year-round as part of The Walker Track Club, a local organization run by their dad. The state track meet is the biggest event for most of the runners in this year’s field, but for Ellwood’s participants it’ll be just another meet.

They’ve already won dozens of medals from all over the country.

Despite her youth, Rashni enters as the top qualifier in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, so she’ll be one of the favorites going into the event.

“It gives me confident and to not be afraid,” Rashni said. “Ever since we started, I’ve been getting bigger and stronger because of what my dad is telling me to do instead of just laying around the house eating cake.”

Rashni said her main goal is to chase the state record in all three events. She said if she breaks the records, her dad has promised to buy her a puppy.

“I’m going to get the puppy I’ve been wanting my entire life,” she said.
Keith (2A)

The Keith Bears had five athletes qualify for state events last weekend at Paul Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa.

Tyeshia Malone led the way with the third best 2A time in the girls 100-meter dash. She’ll enter that event as one of the favorites to win it all. R.C. Hatch’s Kamerria Fikes was the top qualifier with a time of 12.84 seconds. Malone will also participate in the girls 400-meter dash.

“It’s crazy because that’s one of her better times, but she can actually can go better,” said Keith coach Clifon Reeves.

Three other Keith runners will also participate in individual events. Erica Smiley qualified in the 200-meter dash, Jeashan Black made the 200-meter dash and Eric Smiley was seventh fastest in the boys 400-meter dash.

Keith also had its 4×100 meter relay team qualify. Domonique Jones, Jeashan Black, Justin Walker and Eric Smiley are the relay qualifiers.
Dallas County (5A)

Four different Dallas County Hornets qualified for events in Gulf Shores in class 5A. Theopolis Smith made the finals in both the shot put and the discus throw. Tyneshia Jones qualified in the girls’ high jump and Jamerah Smith qualified in the girls’ long jump.

“The girls ran one of the best times they’ve run, and we’ve been practicing hard,” said Dallas County coach Cliff Nix.

Smith, Jones, Audreyiona Barley and Nekooshia Ayanna Peat qualified in the 4×100 meter relay with a time of 52.41 seconds.
Selma (6A)

Keashia Collins qualified in both the 200-meter dash and the 400 meter dash for the Selma Saints. Collins ran a time of 25.78 seconds in the 200-meter dash and a 1:00.56 in the 400-meter dash.

Selma’s 4×100 relay team also qualified with a time of 51.86 seconds.