Northeast track star Brittany Kelly always wanted to be known as a track and field legend in Clarksville.
I think it’s safe to say her legacy is secure.
The Lady Eagles star matched her impressive state championship haul from a year ago with another four state-title performance in this year’s TSSAA Track and Field Championships at Middle Tennessee State. And in two years, Kelly has amassed a mind-boggling eight individual state titles.
But more importantly, Northeast High defended its Class AAA state championship, obliterating last year’s 61-point total with 76 points this week to claim back-to-back titles Thursday night.
“I wanted to go out with a bang,” Kelly said. “I knew this last year I wanted to pour out everything I had and I want people to remember me. Hopefully people will remember me after the past two years.”
Last year it was Kelly that carried the majority of the scoring load as the Lady Eagles captured the school’s first state championship in any sport. This year, it was Kelly and teammate Sonja White who proved too much for the rest of the 3A schools to overcome.
“It feels wonderful to do this again,” White said. “It’s been a grueling day for me but a very satisfying one as well. I mean, this team put in a ton of work this spring and it feels great to watch it pay off like this. This night is why you work so hard in practice and during meets throughout the season.”
Kelly and White finished first and second, respectively, in Monday’s pentathlon and finished one-two again in Thursday night’s 100-meter hurdles final. Together the duo combined to score 58 of Northeast’s title-clinching 76 points. It was a crushing performance as the Lady Eagles were 15 points better than last year’s effort. The next closest team in 3A was Whitehaven, which finished with 55 points.
“We’re so excited,” Northeast coach Christina Webb said. “I love the fact that it was full team effort, and that was our goal this year. These girls have supported each other and have worked hard for this and they deserve it.”
Kelly, who already captured the Class AAA state title in the pentathlon on Monday, took home the state crown in the high jump with a height of five feet, six inches Thursday morning. But she failed to place in the long jump — an event her sister Briana won last year.
Undaunted, Kelly responded with definitive wins in the 100 hurdles (13.95 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (43.98).
“I was really crushed after the long jump,” Kelly said. “But I wasn’t about to let it affect the rest of my day. I knew I had to concentrate and put together a great run in the track competition.”
White was thrilled after her state runner-up finish in Monday’s pentathlon but she also earned a second-place spot on the medal stand next to Kelly in the 100 hurdles. Her time of 14.63 seconds was good enough for eight team points and Dominique Cooper’s seventh-place finish added two more as the Lady Eagles vaulted back in front in the team points standings after Brentwood took a brief 30-28 lead after winning the 4×800 relay.
“Sonja just really had one of her best night’s ever,” Webb said. “She really stepped up and did some fantastic things, and what can you say about Brittany? Her talent is beyond words and to watch her grow as a freshman who was wobbling around the track and then to see what she’s done her junior and senior year, it’s amazing.”
White also placed fourth in the 200 (24.85 seconds) while she anchored the fourth-place 4×200 relay team and the 4×100 team that finished stated runner up in a time of 1:41.59. Northeast was second to last just before White took the baton, but she exploded in the final 100 meters to give the Lady Eagles that second spot.
“My events were spaced out so it wasn’t too difficult but I did run the 4×200 and the 4×100 and then had a personal record in the 200 so I’m really ‘thrilled about that.
“We knew going into state that it was going to be a team effort to win this again and it took everyone involved. Brittany is our big points-eater but we all had to contribute and we did.”
The boys’ track finals will begin at 4:30 Friday. West Creek’s Zeandre Floyd qualified for the 200 with the second fastest time in Thursday’s preliminaries. Teammate Kistler Fletcher took third in Thursday’s 400 meter run prelims and the Coytoes’ 4×200 qualified after finishing fourth in the prelims.