The Panthers are ready and set to go for the outdoor season

Illustration by Evan Koenigs | The Signal

The Georgia State Track & Field team has had an outstanding season so far after battling through the adjustments caused by the pandemic. 

There was significant adversity for the team as they had to navigate through unprecedented times. They defied many odds and showed what it truly means to be a student of Georgia State with their dedication and perseverance.

The Indoor season began with a solid showing at the Clemson opener on December 3. Georgia State had four top 10 finishes and the 60m hurdle prelims with Simone Harper, Zyra Shivers, Jordan Braswell and Kaylie Williams. 

Jaeda Hunt finished fifth in the long jump event and Ashanti Tigner would place sixth in the 60m dash, which helped her advance to the finals, where she finished sixth once more.

A month later, on January 14th and 15th, the girls would win big at two UAB Invitationals. At the Blazer Invitational,  Jaeda Hunt gave another strong performance. 

Marine Garnier also won an event. Emma Davis ranked third in the mile run to bring home a bronze medal.  

Freshman Kayli Williams placed 9th in the 60m hurdles. Williams displayed excellent potential in one of her first collegiate-level track meets.

The next day during the Vulcan Invitational, Jordan Braswell and Ashanti Tigner also returned with stellar performances accompanied by Maleah Heard and Destiny Nash. 

Head coach Kyle Stevenson accredits these incredible performances in the early part of the season to the hard work and dedication of the girls on and off the track. 

“Due to the pandemic, our young ladies [have] mentally checked out due to the level of uncertainties, and every meet, it felt like there was something different,” Stevenson said. 

The biggest accomplishment of the indoor season was the Distance Medley Relay team winning gold. Emma Davis put on a standout performance running over 6,000 meters in two days. 

This sacrifice would pay off major dividends for the team; as a result, it was a first-place finish. Coach Steveson credits Davis for her perseverance and will to go all out for her team. 

“That was major for us because I had [decided] after last season that I wanted our relays to be very strong and represented well at the Sunbelt championship,” Stevenson said. 

“As we got closer to the championship meeting, we agreed that Emma Davis would choose to run a prelim and a final. Our big risk gave us a big reward.”   

The win gave her team a massive morale boost as they witnessed their hard work pay off. After dealing with the inconsistency of the pandemic, they are finally finding their footing as they prepare for the outdoor season in the spring. 

Coach Stevenson is looking forward to the rest of the season as he feels the ladies have more in store. 

“I want to finish better than last year because, in last year’s outdoor championships, we tied for 9th, but I think we finished 10th overall,” Stevenson said.  

“I want to finish better as a team than we did last year, [which] is my top priority.” 

The DMR team has set the standard for the Panther’s goal for the rest of the season. The girls plan on replicating the same successes from the indoor season to the outdoor season.