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You have to be impressed with Buford High School’s Anthony Stephens’ determination.
After a pair of sixth-place finishes in the Class AA state meet as a BHS sophomore and junior, Stephens wanted to do better.
He did, as best as he could have for at the recent Class AA state track meet in Pontiac.
Stephens posted a personal-best 48.35 to win the state title in the 400-meter run during the Class AA state track meet.
Stephens, who went unbeaten in the 400-meter run this season, showed he was serious about his state title intentions after winning the 400 in the Class AA Upper State meet the previous weekend.
“I was determined this time around,” Stephens said. “I wanted to do better than sixth place and I wanted a state championship ring.”
Stephens had a strategy to follow in hopes of landing the state crown, a first in Buford High track.
The key was keeping a steady pace, and knowing when to make the pivotal move in hopes for a winning finish.
“I tried to stay in the lead pack to the last 200 meters,” he said. “The first half of the race, I ran 75 percent and the last half of the race, I ran 100 percent.”
Stephens’ plan worked to perfection as he used a strong kick in the final curve and straightaway to win going away.
Stephens’ finish gave him a 10-meter win over his nearest competitor, Cordrea Tankersley of Silver Bluff High School, who had a 48.83.
“I hit another gear,” Stephens said. “I picked up speed and just ran as hard as I could.”
Buford track coach Jareth Bailey said it was a mater of Stephens staying with his stride and strategy.
“Anthony was focused all the way,” Bailey said. “Anthony ran it like he was supposed to. He knows his point – when to keep his pace and when to turn it on.”
Stephens said the winning feeling was great.
“I gave it my all and came out on top. It felt great at the finish,” he said. “That’s the best goal I’ve ever reached.”
Stephens added he hopes his effort will serve as motivation for others.
“Hopefully, they will remember and it will serve as motivation for somebody in the coming years,” Stephens said.
Stephens’ attitude about his state title reflects a champion in more than one way.
He’s proud of what he accomplished and he hopes other Jackets’ track athletes will be inspired to join him as a state champion.