(Photo by Cedric Gillette)
Miami Northwestern is a hot bed of talent in the state of Florida. The Lady Bulls have won nine consecutive state championships and it seems as if when superstar leaves more are waiting in the wings. Timetria Mitchell graduated in 2016 and is competing for the Florida Gators while De'Andreah Young is headed to Cal State Northridge this fall. Don't worry because freshman Markalah Hart has the potential to be the best ever to come through Liberty City and the best ever in the state of Florida. She is our Girls Hurdles Athlete of the Year.
Hart was first in eight of her 100m hurdle races, but her best performance was her runner-up finish at the Florida Relays where she set a new personal best of 13.94, one of five freshmen to break 14 seconds in 2017. She ran 14.3 or below nine times and was well on her way to her first state championship after winning the prelims. A false start in the finals halted those hopes, but the freshman didn't let that deter her.
"It made me just go harder in the 300m hurdles," she said after the race. "I didn't feel like that was a false start and that I got cheated a little bit so I figured I'd go out in that 300m hurdles and just give it my all."
Part of being an exceptional athlete isn't always how you perform week in and week out, but how you bounce back and stay focused on the prize. The youngster came back a short time later in the 300 meter hurdles and left the crowd speechless after crossing the line in 40.28s. Hart's time was the fastest EVER by a freshman in high school history and making her the sixth fastest high school performer all-time. Only Rio Olympian and fellow high schooler Sydney McLaughlin ran faster in 2017.
"My goal now is just to keep it up, keep it going, and stay strong," Hart said. "39 is my new goal and I'm going to be there next year."