Starkville's Bonner motivated to get back on track

May 6, 2009

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- There is a special motivation for Shay Bonner, of Starkville High School, to get back on the track for the Class 5A state meet. 


After injuring her knee during hurdles competition at North State, Bonner missed practice early this week in preparation for the state that takes place Saturday in Pearl. 


Bonner, who qualified for state in the 100 and 300 hurdles, is also a leg in Starkville''s 4x200 relay team that has a chance to break a state record. 


The team of Bonner, Ashce Catledge, Reshequia Henderson and Consuela Fason ran a season and Class 5A best 1 minute, 43.73 seconds in the 4x200 relay and now is looking for the record of 1:40. 


With the possibility of still being sore and also having her hurdles events to run, Bonner will count on her teammates to help pull out the mark. 


"If we break it, it would mean so much to us because that''s our goal right now," Bonner said. "Since I''m the only one running other events, everyone is going to have to sprint in order for us to accomplish our goal." 


Bonner probably won''t have to give any motivational speeches to Catledge. 


Starkville girls coach Mitchell Evans said Catledge was extremely disappointed by not qualifying for state in the 100-meter dash, finishing fifth in the North, and used that to help fuel the 4x200 team. 


"She was heartbroken, but she made up for it in the 4x200," Evans said. "I think the 4x200 can break the state record if they work hard enough." 


Evans said the 4x400 relay team worked its way through adversity to finish fourth in the North and qualify for state. 


The fact there were two freshmen (Verlyncia Leonardo and Bailey Clark) running made it more special. 


"By the grace of God, the 4x400 qualified," Evans said. "I added some alternates on there because two of our legs were banged up. Verlyncia and Bailey ran two good legs for me." 


Bonner was going to try and get back on the track this afternoon to test her knee and see how it feels. 


She has been doing exercises under the direction of Starkville girls basketball coach Kristie Williams to help strengthen the knee. 


The thought of trying to beat Brittany Covington, of Greenville-Weston High School, in the hurdles is enough for Bonner to endure the pain. 


"She is the one who is really pushing me right now," Bonner said. "She is providing me the competition I didn''t have before." 


Covington swept the hurdles in the North with times of 15.08 in the 100 and 47.13 in the 300. Bonner ran 16.40 in the 100 and 49.51 in the 300 for second place. 


After the Lady Yellow Jackets finished sixth in the North, Evans believes a fifth-place showing at state would be good for the program.  


"Last year, we had 34 points and finished in the top five," Evans said. "I think you need at least 50 points this year to be in the top five."  


Although it seems like a tall order, Bonner won''t be satisfied unless the Starkville girls bring home the state title. 


"If we carry the banner it would be so great," Bonner said. "That''s what we''ve been working toward all season. The boys won it last year and we''re trying to get us one. We all have faith that we can."