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SHS, Portal girls excel at state track meet

    Uniqua Mosley and the Portal Lady Panthers track team had plenty of hurdles to jump over this season, both literally and figuratively.
    Without a “home” track to practice on, the Lady Panthers relied on practicing at Georgia Southern, Statesboro High School or even around the Portal community.
    Regardless of the circumstances, Portal’s girls’ track and field team proved determination outweighs anything else.
    At the Georgia High School Association state track meet, the Lady Panthers finished No. 5 in the state, scoring 32.5 points — barely edging Terrell County (32) and Turner County (32).
    Along with a fifth-place finish as a team, Jasmine Graham finished third in the 110-meter hurdles and second in the 300-meter hurdles. Kayla Loy had a strong performance in the high jump with a seventh-place finish.
    Dashonda Morgan also placed seventh in the triple-jump.
    With quality performances from the Lady Panthers at the state meet, it was Mosley who took yet another state championship in the 110-meter hurdles.
    “It feels great to win a state title in my senior year,” said Mosley. “This track season has been stressful because it was my senior year and I knew I had to go out with a bang.”
    Mosley had a setback her freshman year in a quest for a state title, but bounced back her sophomore year to win her first state title. In her junior year, Mosley clipped her eighth hurdle and finished second.
    “This year I really wanted it. Those two years I messed up, I knew I had to come take my title. There were just obstacles in the way,” Mosley said. “Somedays we have to practice on the football field. Some people we run against have their own track. We jump in the playground sandbox for our jumping pit and a lot of times we’re twice as good as some of the teams we run against.”
    Portal’s No. 5 state finish is something that PHS track and field coach Tendai Haggins said is a testament to his team’s hard work this season.
    “They’re doing construction so we have to run around school or run around the campus of (Georgia Southern University) and the kids put a lot of hard work in,” Haggins said. “I think it served us well. Running around town and campus and pulling the sled. Overall, it paid off.”
    Along with the Lady Panthers, Statesboro had a solid showing at the state meet, finishing tied for seventh with 24 points.
    Statesboro High's track and field team took eight athletes to the state meet, two of which were alternates.
    “It was awesome. You could just tell how much work they put in,” SHS coach Bo Viness said. “Every event was prepared and we peaked at the right time. My coaching staff did such a great job and they are a big part of this team’s success. When you finish in the top eight, you have to be happy with the results.”
    Statesboro’s 4X100 relay team of Staysha Everett, Dayonna Henry, Iyana McKeever and Lakeeba Redfield finished fifth overall.
    Redfield placed sixth in both the long jump and the high jump. McKeever had a strong end to the season with a third place finish in the long jump.
    Jaslyn Joseph placed seventh overall in state in the 100-meter hurdles. Henry had a personal best by breaking the school record in the triple jump with a distance of 38-10.
    “They are so excited. They’re already talking about next year and talking about the summer workouts,” Viness said.
    Southeast Bulloch had just one athlete reach the podium this season. With a core group of underclassmen leading the future, Cierra Jordan finished sixth in the pole vault.