No matter where Malia Ellington is running, what event or what surface, she seems to come out on top.In the last year, the Community School of Davidson junior has won races at a staggering rate, claiming seven individual, NCHSAA state championships, beginning with three 1A crowns last spring (800, 1,600, 3,200), then continuing into the fall, where she won the 1A state cross country title.Ellington, 16, added three more 1A/2A state championships this winter in her first indoor track season ever, winning the 1,000, 1,600 and 3,200-meter state titles.She also claimed the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic 3000-meter title.As if that isn’t enough, Ellington is also the No. 1 triathlete in the nation in her age group, according to usatriathlon.org.But if you think Ellington’s success is going to her head, think again.“I feel very fortunate to have won all the (state) championships, but it just motivates me to be even better,” said Ellington, who also spent a week doing triathlon training in Maui, Hawaii, in January. “I’m always looking to PR (personal-record) in every race I run. I’m always thinking what I can do to better or differently to run faster.”Her mother, Nancy Ellington, who travels the country and even the world with Malia, says her success has been remarkable.“What Malia has accomplished does even surprise me at times,” Nancy Ellington said. “But at the same I time, I know how hard she works. I know she always has that next goal in mind.”Ellington has not only established herself as one of the top runners in the state in any classification, but also in the country and more, as she posted two of the top national times in the 1,600 (4:52.87) and 3,200 (10:38.74) this winter.Her 4:52.87 in the mile came in the Feb. 14, UCS Invitational at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem against a field that included mostly college runners.“I really love running against the best competition I can,” Ellington said. “I feel like the biggest races bring out the best in me. Running a (4:52.87) just makes me want to break that 4:50 barrier this spring even more. I also want to improve my 800- and 3,200-meter times.”While Ellington has begun working towards another three-state championship effort this spring (800, 1,600, 3,200), she has one more big indoor meet, as she will run for the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 Emerging Elite titles at New Balance Nationals this weekend in New York City.While Ellington looks to continue her assault on her personal record and the 1A state records books this spring (she holds the 1,600-meter outdoor state meet record, 5:01.37), she wants to enjoy every step along the way.First she hopes to win the Southern Piedmont conference and 1A Midwest Regional crowns in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200) again, and she also hopes to help lead her team to regional and state team titles, too.Last year, Coach Marc Sweet, and the Community School of Davidson team finished as 1A Midwest Regional runner-up and fourth at states in their first year as an NCHSAA sanctioned team.With a talented group of runners back, including sophomores like Kaylee Cortese and Madison Cosby, and senior Rachael Webb, to name a few, they could contend for 1A state title (team).Even as emails and letters pour in from college cross country and track programs across country, Ellington tries to focus on running.“It’s kind of crazy that all the recruiting (stuff) is happening, I feel like I just started in some ways,” said Ellington, who also boasts a 4.6 grade-point average. “But I just try to enjoy everything and take everything as it comes. I still haven’t found a race I didn’t like running in, yet.”
Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
Ellington running into the record books, again
Five to watch
• Malia Ellington, Community School of Davidson, Jr. – Seven-time state champion is also the No. 1 ranked triathlete in her age group (15-17).
• Nicole Lawson, North Mecklenburg, Jr. – Vikings’ standout finished fourth in the triple jump at the 4A indoor state meet.
• Kyla Smith, Davidson Day, Fr. – After contending in 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes as an eighth-grader, Smith back to prove she can be even better as Patriot freshman.
• Patrick Sheehan, Lake Norman, Sr. – 5-foot-9, 140 pounds. N.C. State signee among the best distance runners in state, finishing third in the 3,200-meter run at the indoor state championships.
• Mark Fields II, Hough, Jr. – 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. Was the I-Meck conference and 4A Western Regional champion in 100-meter dash and is also a major Division I football recruit.
• Jordan Brown, Davidson Day, Sr. – 5-foot-9, 165 pounds. One of the fastest sprinters in the state went down with a hamstring injury in the state meet preliminaries last year. .
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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