• 55°

Ward earns bronze at state finals

Among the pantheon of the most decorated sprinters in the state stood a lone newcomer—Greenville High School’s Wilisha Ward, the eighth-grade speedster responsible for a number of broken records in 2015.

Despite her lack of experience, Ward was able to finish the 100-meter dash finals with a bronze medal, and Greenville High School track and field coach Khari Palmer was among the least surprised at the result.

“We told her that her making it to the finals of the AHSAA championship was not a coincidence, and that she was destined for greatness because of her work ethic, her positive attitude and her discipline,” Palmer said.

He added that her coachable nature, dedication to training and focus in the classroom certainly didn’t hurt.

“Those are the tangibles that separate the champions and the rest of the competitors.”

Ward’s 12.51 finish in the 100-meter dash gave her the distinction of being the first eighth grader in AHSAA Clas 5A history to medal in a championship race.

Ward is also the first Greenville High School female athlete to medal in the 100-meter dash at the AHSAA State Track and Field Championship.

Ward and the other competitors faced a bit of adversity in the form of two false starts due to a malfunction with the starting pistol. But Ward kept her composure and began to pull away from the pack at the 70-meter mark, fighting off VAda Samuels of Columbia to take the third-place finish.

Palmer added that Ward’s accomplishments aren’t just a reflection of her hard work and dedication, but of the Greenville community as a whole.

“It shows that within our community, we possess some of the top athletic talent in the state of Alabama,” Palmer said.

“Our young ladies have worked hard this season bring relevance to the sport of track and field, and this is a true example of how hard work pays off.  Wilisha had an outstanding outdoor track season and her future is very bright.  We must continue to invest within our student athletes so that they can continue to get opportunities like this to show their abilities on a state and national level.”

Ward and her returning teammates are already hard at work on next season with a summer packed with conditioning, weight lifting, plyometrics and speed training.

Ward also finished 7th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.55 and 8th in the 400-meter dash with a  time of 1:02.40.

Other competitors include sophomore shot putter Quintazia Powell, who finished 11th in the state. Ward and Powell’s performances gave the Lady Tigers an 18th-place finish out of the top 50 5A teams present.