Redhawks senior caps stellar career with state team title
by Aaron Garcia
When Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins began her spring track and field season, she had a few individual goals in mind. Already one of the county’s top track athletes, the Monroe senior wanted to pad her personal resume a bit. She aimed to break the 45-second barrier in the 300-meter hurdles and also pick up two more individual state championships.
Given her times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, she had a good shot.
But Collins’ main goal was to accomplish one of the few honors that had escaped her in her otherwise storied career: a team state championship for the Redhawk girls team, which finished fourth in 2010 and third last season.
“I really wanted it for Coach (Nichole) Jackson because she’d been here four years, and we’ve been getting more and more good girls,” Collins said. “This year was our final moment, so I wanted to go out and win so she could have one under her belt.”
Thanks in large part to Collins’ efforts, the Redhawks scored 101 points to win the Class 1A girls track and field team championship in May at Greensboro’s N.C. A&T State University, easily beating second-place Hendersonville (54).
Collins was exceptional at the meet – she won gold in the 200 in 25.22 seconds and anchored the Redhawks’ 4×200 relay team, which set a Class 1A record by finishing in 1 minute, 41.30 seconds. Though she just missed breaking 45 seconds in the 300 hurdles, she won in 45.34. Collins missed her fourth gold medal when she lost the 100-meter dash by 1/100th of a second; she finished in 12.42, while the first-place runner clocked in at 12.41.
All told, Collins contributed to 39 of her team’s 101 points, earning her the title of Most Outstanding Performer at the state meet. She also is Union County Weekly’s 2012 Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Though Collins succeeded at crossing off her ultimate goal from her high school career’s bucket list, she called the result “bittersweet.”
“It was my last state meet, but I was glad I went out how I did,” said Collins. “I was proud of myself.”
For Jackson, the finish was the perfect end for Collins, who will run at East Carolina next season.
“She’s earned every little bit of the awards and the recognition she’s gotten,” said Jackson, who applauded Collins’ dedication to the sport. “She has truly earned it. That’s a special athlete right there.”