May 25, 2010 3:46:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- With track and field season completed, Shay Bonner can look back on a prep career filled with multiple state meet memories.
The Starkville High senior earned second- and third place laurels a year ago in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, respectively, and followed that with duplicate results in both events this year.
Bonner felt her chances to win the 100 would be greater this year because she''d significantly improved her speed. She also ran a leg on the Lady Jackets'' 4x400 and 4x200 relay teams.
She contributed 14 of Starkville High''s 24 points in her open events at the Class 6A state meet on May 15 at Pearl.
Bonner recorded a time of 15.12 seconds in the 100 hurdles, just four one hundredths of a second behind Hattiesburg High''s Taryn Hartfield, whom Bonner had raced earlier in the season at the Southern Mississippi Invitational.
The multi-sport athlete won a gold with Starkville''s 4x200 team in 2009, but at the brink of winning an individual state championship medal for the first time she finished her college career with a pair of runner-up finishes.
Still, there''s no looking back at how things could have been different, Bonner said.
"I''ve accomplished a lot," said Bonner, The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week. "I was named runner-up two years straight in the 100 hurdles, and I''m very proud of myself for earning that over the last two years. I''ve been going strong."
The mild spring temperatures in which the Lady Jackets practiced turned into sweltering heat at Pearl. The climate change was sudden and unexpected, forcing all of the athletes to adjust and to remain properly hydrated.
Bonner admitted being "a little shaky" in the 100 hurdles and was surprised she took second.
"It was so hot, and once we got out there we were waiting for a very long time," Bonner said. "It drained most of my energy. It was the biggest challenge I''ve ever had in track, but we had to compete to the limit. We couldn''t change it, so we had to go out there and do it."
Playing a role in earning all of Starkville''s points at state is a point of pride for Bonner, who will move on to Itawamba Community College on a basketball scholarship.
Starkville High coach Mitchell Evans said Bonner embraced the responsibility of earning the majority of the team''s points at each meet.
"I''m going to remember her determination," Evans said. "I''ve never seen a young lady run the way she ran with a heavy load on her back. She ran for everybody who ever gave her a chance to do things. That determination to finish before everyone is what I''ll take away most from coaching her.
"She was our top point-getter, and not to say we can''t replace those points, but it''ll be a challenge."
Bonner takes away a pair of 6A North State titles in the hurdles to go with her medals from Pearl this season.
Last year''s hurdling nemesis, former Greenville-Weston star Brittany Covington, just completed her freshman year as a member of the Mississippi State University track team. Bonner finished second to Covington in the 100 and 300 in 2009, prompting the questions about her ability to compete in track and field in college.
Bonner said she received interest from Alcorn State prior to signing her basketball scholarship with ICC, but she was unsure about a future in track and field.
"Sometimes I feel like I want to get back into it, but I''m just not sure," Bonner said. "I will miss it a lot."
With more coaching, the ability to practice on a polyurethane track full time, and the opportunity to focus on one sport, Evans believes Bonner can be a standout track athlete at a four-year college.
"She''s willing to learn and do anything to be a unique athlete in college," Evans said. "I wish her well in her basketball career at ICC, but that''s just a two-year college, so if she still has the passion she has for track then I think she will strike interest from programs."
To prepare for her freshman season at ICC and the Northeast Mississippi Basketball Coaches All-Star game on June 5, Bonner will run two miles, bleachers, lift weights, and shoot at Starkville High each week. She will play at an ICC-hosted All-Star game with former SHS teammate and East Mississippi C.C. signee Kala Williams. Starkville High coach Kristie Williams will coach in the game.
Bonner will have the chance to play three former teammates later this year. Class of 2009 member Tay Odneal plays for Meridian Community College, while Williams and ''09 graduate Kierra Jones will play for EMCC.
"I can''t wait to get to ICC and get in the gym to work out with the other girls," Bonner said. "I know it''s going to be so much fun to play against my old teammates. We talk about it every time we bring up school. We''re going to be in the gym together a lot this summer."
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