Written by Vincent R. Crawford, Sports Editor
About a week before the Division II state track meet, Phoenix South Mountain’s senior sprinter Alexis Center (25.29) had not run a 200m dash all season until the Phoenix Desert Vista Last Chance Meet, on April 27. She had hamstring injuries that first occurred while she competed in the NIKE Chandler Rotary Elite 100m dash on March 19. As Center (12.05) walked back to the finish line, after winning the Elite 100, she was seen grabbing at her hamstring and, as a precaution, she was held out of competing in the Elite 200 later in the meet.
The next time Center ran competitively was a 100m-dash heat race at the Sun Angel Track Classic, on April 7. Center (11.80) won her heat with the fastest time clocked in the state to date, but once more had an issue with her hamstrings and was unable to run in the final or any of the earlier 200 preliminary heats. Due to her injuries, that would be the last time Center (12.05) would run the 100 before the 100-meter dash state prelims, on May 4.
At state, Center won the 100m-dash championship, with a time of 11.86, and leaves for Southern Methodist University with a victory in the event for the third straight year.
“I have not been running because I pulled both hamstrings early this year, so this was like my fourth 100,” said Center, after winning the state 100m dash. “It felt like I did good, but the time says otherwise.”
On the year, Center only ran four 100m dashes and two were at the state meet, but with the Arizona Interscholastic Association related track season now concluded, Center remains the only female athlete that has run the 100 in less than 12 seconds and she’s done it twice.
“We kept Alexis from competing because we considered her career after high school,” South Mountain’s track coach Dwayne Evans said.
With her time of 11.80 so early in the campaign, Center may have had a legitimate shot of equaling or passing Phoenix Washington’s Christie Winkle (No. 4, 11.66), Peoria’s Judith Onyepunka (No. 5, 11.68), or Chandler’s Keri Suell (No. 6, 11.69) on the all-time top-six list. Editor’s note: the only rankings I found with more than one competitor only listed the top six marks for the 100.
Center’s injuries limited her to three appearances in the 200m-dash in 2016, and two of those also were at the state meet including running 25.15 in a prelim heat race, on May 4.
“At Desert Vista, I was just trying to get a qualifying time in the 200 so I could go to state.”
In the state 200-meter dash final, Center (24.92) was trying to win her third 200 state championship in a row, but Laveen Betty Fairfax’ frosh sprinter/hurdler Ma’Kayla Dickerson (24.82) broke Center’s winning streak and may have started her own on the big stage.