Derby’s top sprinters, friends battle each other

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Derby’s top sprinters, friends battle each other

Sidney Gore

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Where is the line between a friend and competition?

“(Friendship) is pretty important, but when it comes to running it’s about us and how we run,” freshman sprinter Serenity Jackson said about her relationship with sophomore sprinter Aneesa Abdul-Hameed. “But friendship-wise, at that point when we are running, we aren’t really friends because we are trying to beat each other.

“But then off the track, yeah, we’re friends. But on the track we’re not.”

Abdul-Hameed and Jackson, the Panthers’ top sprinters, strive to be the best. Often the only thing getting in the way — is each other.

“(Running against Jackson) just helps me realize that I’m not always going to be the best even though I want to be and strive to be, so I have to realize that if I want something then I have to work harder for it,” Abdul-Hameed said.

Abdul-Hameed, who finished sixth in the 4oo in 6A in 2018, won the Panthers’ first meet at Winfield. Jackson took third.

Becoming the best isn’t easy, though.

It takes precision because there’s no room for error. A sprinter’s start, technique and form must be flawless.

“With both of them, the sky is the limit,” coach Mitch Pontious said. “They can go do whatever they want to do, if they really apply themselves. I think they have the talent to achieve whatever they want to achieve.

“What’s beautiful about track it’s completely up to them on whether or not they want to put in the work to achieve what they want.”

Abdul-Hameed runs the 100, 200 and 400. Her best 100 time is a 12.3.

“Aneesa is a proven, a known quantity,” Pontious said. “She’s qualified at state and she’s placed at state. She’s got elite speed, so she’s just a special athlete because she’s a dual-sport athlete and she’s very naturally talented. Aneesa herself is just impressive to watch.”

Abdul-Hameed also plays soccer in the spring.

Jackson runs the 200, 400 and is on the 400 relay.

“Serenity is kind of the opposite of Aneesa — she’s kind of an unknown quantity,” Pontious said. “She hasn’t ran before (in high school). We are looking forward to see what she can do. We are going to put her in some situations with her running with some upper-tiered kids and see what kind of numbers she can pull.”