North Clayton High came away from the 2017 GHSA Track and Field Championships with two individual state champions in Moena Battle and Jaiquan Earls.
The duo became North Clayton’s first state champions since the 1993 boys basketball team, and just the second and third all-time. Battle topped the field in the high jump, while Earls won gold in the triple jump.
Battle claimed the individual title with a height of 5 feet, 4 inches. Despite winning gold, she said she the championship event was frustrating, as she wanted to set a personal record of 5 feet, 10 inches or 6 feet.
“It felt like I would do great but that didn’t go as planned. I wanted to jump and PR (personal record) but it didn’t go my way,” Battle said. “I had to fight for the title because my first jump I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. I kept scratching and having to jump it the second time and I kept doing that. It got to 5-4 and I scratched twice and I knew this height was either going to make or break me because I knew a lot of other girls couldn’t get that high.”
Battle did out-jump Woodward’s Academy Adair Sawyer in the finals to claim the title. She said her frustration soon turned to joy when she accomplished her goal.
“I was frustrated because it wasn’t what I really wanted to jump,” Battle said. “I was happy that I won but sad because I didn’t do what I knew I could do. I was happy at the end of the day because I got the ring.”
Battle, who was also an All-Region and All-County contributor in basketball, said she is weighing college options and will make a decision over the next few weeks. She will leave North Clayton as one of the top female student-athletes in school history.
“I feel very accomplished, beyond humbled because not everybody can be in my position,” she said. “It takes hard work to get where I am. I’m just going to keep working hard.”
Earls was a fine multi-sport athlete himself. He was an All-Region and All-County running back for the football team, and used his athleticism to take gold in the triple jump with a distance of just over 44 feet.
The talented senior said he expected to be in the running for a state title. According to Earls, lessons he learned during his first two trips to state helped prepare him for his final opportunity at individual glory.
- By Luke Stricklandlstrickland@news-daily.com