Georgia State’s track team survived and thrived in 2021

Women’s Track and Field prevailed through the pandemic-ridden season and have the hardware to display. Photo Submitted by GSU Athletics

The Georgia State track team adapted to many factors while still attempting to put on impressive performances during the season. The Panthers recorded three wins in their season opener on Jan. 24 at the KMS Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama.

Junior Marine Garnier earned a couple of wins in the distance medley and 3K events. Junior Na’ilah Moore recorded a first-place victory at the triple jump.

In their return to the KMS Open, the Panthers met schools such as Troy, Alabama A&M, Jackson State, UT-Martin and Georgia Southern.

The Panthers returned to KMS for another meeting on Feb. 31.

Georgia State faced athletes from Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Central Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, South Alabama, Southern and more.

Against stiff competition, 4×200 standouts Ashanti Tigner, Chelsea Tate, Morgan Manley and Imani Flanagan set a new program record.

Additionally, Na’ilah Moore, Emma Devis and Anouk Prop all took second place in their respective events, giving the Panthers three second-place finishes.

This season has been an entirely new experience for some of the track athletes, especially the seniors who had a typical student-athlete experience before the arrival of COVID-19.

Senior Jada Watson has cited 2020-21 as her most challenging year at Georgia State between her duties as an athlete and enduring senior-level classes.

“It’s hard still trying to keep up with classes, and since we are online, our professors expect us to have an abundance of free time,” Watson said. “But since I am an athlete, I don’t have that free time.”

Watson has worked very hard to stay focused on her grades while continually maintaining her high level of performance.

“It’s kind of hard to stay motivated, but I feel like our team has done a good job at that,” Watson said. “Trying to stay COVID-free has been hard, but we’re becoming more and more motivated the more we get to compete at meets.”

Head coach Kyle Stevenson was very adamant about making sure the players get their rest to stay ready and energized.

“The hardest part about adjusting to the pandemic is keeping the athletes engaged,” Stevenson said. “We’ve been at a point where we have had to delay or cancel competition one time too many, and not only have you seen it in their faces, but also their body language.”

Stevenson and his staff worked very hard to keep the athletes on a busy schedule to feel motivated throughout their days. Since the athletes also have academic responsibilities they must attend to, it can be easy for them to get into a cycle, which can cause mental burnout.

Evident of their previous performances, the pandemic did not deter the Panthers from having outstanding performances. Stevenson is very proud of the results he is getting from the team and understands how hard they continue to work.

Even though this season was somewhat grueling due to the odd situations, Georgia State’s women’s track team persevered, and they are excited to enter their offseason.