Meridian Star

Sports

June 3, 2014

Determination leads Quitman sprinter to 2 state titles

QUITMAN — Quitman High School sprinter Sendreca Howard has a one-word motto: “Go.”

And Howard went — all the way to the MHSAA Class 4A state track meet, where she won first place in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Also a basketball player, Howard’s only downtime from sports is July before workouts begin again in August. But Howard said whether it’s basketball or track, she’s the type that has to be doing something.

“I love to stay active,” Howard said. “I can’t just sit around at home. I always have to be going.”

And it’s that kind of determination that led to Howard coming out on top in both of her individual events at the state meet, Quitman track coach Kandis Blakely said.

“Practice,” Blakely cited as the reason for Howard’s success. “She practices often. We work on her coming out low, and every day she’s sprinting. Much of it is natural ability.”

Howard’s time in the 100-meter dash was 12.63 seconds, while her time in the 200-meter dash was 25.04 seconds. In the South State meet, she finished second in the 100-meter and first in the 200-meter, setting herself up for a chance at an overall title in both.

“I had a good feeling (entering the state meet),” Howard said. “I got a good start out of the blocks both times.”

After winning the 100-meter dash, you might expect the momentum to carry over into the 200-meter. But Howard said she focused on the two sprints as two separate events.

“I just focused on my next event and kept on going,” she said. “I wasn’t worried, then I was, but I knew if I did my best, I’d be OK.”

After winning both events, Howard said the feeling wasn’t like anything else she’s experienced.

“It feels amazing, because it’s my first (state titles),” Howard said. “Standing in the shoes of a champion, it feels great.”

Blakely said she was proud of Howard for her achievements but insisted her rising junior sprinter wouldn’t be satisfied with just a couple of rings.

“I’m glad she was able to accomplish such an outstanding achievement,” Blakely said. “I look forward to helping her go above and beyond (what she accomplished).”

Howard’s track career began in the seventh grade, but her enjoyment of running started when she was a child, she said.

“When I was young, I always loved to run,” Howard said. “I was nervous at tryouts, but I decided to try it just to see how it’d be. I continued to do it because I love it.”

Her love for track comes from the feeling of freedom it brings, Howard said.

“You can just go,” she said.

It also helps keep her in shape for basketball, especially since the offense Quitman runs it suited to a sprinter, Quitman girls basketball coach Gina Skelton said.

“We’re a running team, and the position she plays — the three — is a sprinting position,” Skelton said.

Added Howard, “Being a three, you have to be the fastest person on the court.”

With Howard’s junior year coming up, Blakely said she’s thrilled to have Howard for two more seasons.

“She’s fun to coach, and she does anything I ask,” Blakely said. “She loves the sport, so coaching her comes easier for her. I hope to help her repeat her state titles and to have athletes follow in her footsteps. She’s very good with the underclassmen and has helped them a lot.”

Also a member of the team’s 4X100-meter relay team, Howard said one of her goals next season is to help the relay team get a state title of its own.

Howard is the daughter of Courtnea Howard and Donald Thompson.

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