Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the accomplishments of every area team’s senior class as their senior seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will culminate in Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.’s Virtual Senior Night. For more information on that, visit www.tallasseetribune.com.
Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. is hosting a “Virtual Senior Night.”
Armani Wilkerson, Orliyah Poole and Taylor Goodman spent their entire high school careers with the Tallassee track and field team and although they did not get a chance to leave on their own terms, the trio of seniors had a major impact on the program over the last few years.
“These were three girls that had been with us a long time,” Tallassee coach Danny Worley said. “They stuck with it. That shows they were persistent and dedicated to it. It would have been easy to quit and do other things. They did so much other stuff but they stuck with track and I really appreciate when they do that.”
Worley said all three were expecting to make a trip to the state meet and they all had realistic hopes to make it on to the medal stand in their final seasons.
Wilkerson competed in a variety of events during her career including the 100, 200 and long jump but her specialty became the hurdles. She graduated with her name in the school record books as the fastest finish in the 300 hurdles with a time of 50.81 seconds.
While her success on the track was easy to see, Worley said Wilkerson’s biggest impact may have been during practice and offseason workouts.
“She was the spark plug,” Worley said. “She was always ready to go and always energetic. She was dedicated to the program and she was a lot of fun to be around. She had a very positive attitude no matter what. That sets the tones for the others and that makes it easier when everyone follows along. It really shows the younger ones.”
Poole focused on the track for most of her career, participating in the 100, 200 and 400. She also was a starter on the 4x100 relay team for three years, making it to the state championships all three times.
The Tigers saw three of the four members from that relay team graduate in 2019 so they knew getting Poole back to the state meet with a new team would be a challenge. She moved over to the long jump event for the first time and quickly saw some success.
“She really took that and she had a lot off success in those two meets we had already,” Worley said. “She was ranked second in the section when the season ended. She knew how she needed to work and she knew what she needed to do. She was motivated and she wanted to go back. I was very proud of that.”
Goodman led the throwing group and was set to chase after the medal stand at her final state meet. She threw javelin, discus and shot put during her career but the javelin was her top event.
When Goodman joined the team, her brother was at the top of the javelin charts and earned bronze at the state championships so she was hoping to top that result and Worley believes she could have.
“She was really able to teach the younger ones so it was easy for me to work with one group and her to work with them,” Worley said. “She was like a coach on the field for us because she was with us for so long. We were expecting her to potentially win the sectional and be on the medal stand at state. She would tell you she was expecting to win the whole thing.”