ACCS track athletes bring home gold medals from state meet
By Reina Kempt
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — A bittersweet feeling filled Jessica Reynolds, Tory Laird, Nikki Worthey and Mollie Simpson of the Adams County Christian School as they stepped on to the track for the last time as a team at the 2013 MAIS Class AA State Championship.
Making it this far for the first time together made their hard work worth while.
Laird, the only 16-year-old junior of the quartet, said they prepared to be great from the first day. That included practicing everyday and even some weekends.
“I didn’t like all of the practicing but it made us better and I was okay with that,” Laird said.
Their first race at the Silliman Warm-up Meet didn’t go as planned as they walked away with third place.
That initial showing gave a bad first impression to what would be a great season.
19-year-old senior Worthey was still in basketball season during the Silliman meet as she was playing in the All-Star game the weekend of the opening meet. She had received All-State, All-District and Best Rebounder honors that season.
After her fashionably late entrance into the track season, came the start of a great year.
Worthey said it didn’t come easy, as the transition from basketball to track was pretty drastic. She was severely out of shape.
“I was out of shape very much,” Worthey said. “There’s a difference from doing short sprints on the basketball court to going full out on the track.”
As Worthey got back into the groove of things, the ACCS quartet saw nothing but first place victories in the 4×100.
With all of the victories, ACCS knew they had a great chance at winning State.
Head coach Chris McGraw had much confidence in his girls’ ability to give it their all.
The ACCS quartet got into their positions to compete in their last race with mixed emotions.
Reynolds, an 18-year-old senior, said the nervousness hit her as she got to the starting line. Running the first leg in the 4×100-meter relay race is just as important as the last.
Reynolds said she was thankful for another runner’s fault because it could’ve cost them the race.
“I was in my box, nervous and someone jumped the gun and I’m glad they did because I got off to a bad first step,” Reynolds said.
McGraw noticed her error and said he still had confidence in her.
“I knew she had a bad first step but I knew (Reynolds) always comes through for us,” McGraw said.
The second try went as planned for Reynolds and now the only focus these girls had was perfecting the handoffs.
McGraw said it would be the only thing that could mess up their chances at the title.
“I knew we were going to win, as long as we made handoffs we would be fine,” McGraw said.
The first handoff from Reynolds to Simpson, a 19-year-old senior, went smoothly as Simpson said her motivation through her leg was the fact that it was all or nothing.
“This would be our last time to run because this is our senior year,” Simpson said. “This is our last chance.”
Simpson handed off to the youngest of the quartet, Laird.
Laird is not much of a fan of running, but she ran track to be close to her long-time friend Worthey.
Without Worthey running next year, she said this would probably be her last race as well.
With that being said, her bond with her teammates motivated her to give it her all.
As the third leg of the race, she said her thought process stayed on one thing.
“Run fast and turn left was basically what I was thinking,” Laird said. “Just hand it to Nikki, I know she has my back.”
The race was pretty close at that point and then Laird handed the baton to her childhood friend Worthey.
As an all-around athlete who won State in the high jump in 2010 along with her recent basketball honors, it was evident that she would run the anchor leg.
Worthey blew the competition out of the water to win the 2013 state championship.
The four athletes ran to the middle of the field in triumph as they hugged each other and celebrated.
In the huddle, Simpson said she was filled with emotion as it really dawned on her that they just ran their last race. She said all of the success wouldn’t be possible without her bond with her teammates
“I love them.” She said. “If I hadn’t have had them I wouldn’t have run track.”
As Simpson, Worthey and Reynolds graduate this Friday, they will take the memories of their stellar track season with them, along with the gold medals they earned around their necks.