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Winslow makes final race memorable

The morning of her last high school race, Amanda Winslow was a little bored.

She was in Albany, confined to a hotel, and it was more than 10 hours until her final run around the track. So the Collins Hill distance runner checked out the top 1,600-meter time in the country.

"I normally wouldn't do that, but I was like 'What is the fastest time in the nation?'" said Winslow, the Daily Post's Runner of the Year.

The time she found was 4 minutes, 46 seconds. But by the end of the day it was 4:44.97.

That's the time Winslow ran to claim her second state championship of the meet and set a new Georgia state record.

"I don't think I ever imagined it would be that great," Winslow said of her last race. "All I wanted to do since freshman year was end with my best. I didn't know if it would be my last race, but I always kind of thought ahead and was like 'What is my last race going to feel like?' I'm going to have to do something crazy when I know it's my last race. It was a good way to end things I'd say."

The state record perfectly capped a standout career for Winslow, who moved to Georgia from Ohio in January 2007.

She won 1,600 and 3,200 state titles as a junior and senior and claimed individual cross country championships in 2007 and 2008.

"I don't know what you could say that hasn't been said over the last two and a half years," Collins Hill coach Andrew Hudson said. "She's clearly the best runner in Gwinnett County history. She has all the school and county records."

To have the nation's best time in the 1,600 was beyond Winslow's dreams. She always knew she wanted to be a state champion, but once she accomplished that she wanted more. She set the Class AAAAA state record in the 1,600 last season, so that left just the state's overall mark this season.

"When I was on the track I was like 'I'm doing it, I just can't stop now,'" Winslow said. "I knew where I was at halfway and I knew I was going for it, so I had to keep going.

"That's what I was going for, to go out with the best note."

When Winslow moved to Georgia in 2007 she got a late start to the track season and battled an early injury. She placed second at state in the 1,600 behind teammate Jackie Drouin and was third in the 800.

Winslow won the 1,600 and 3,200 state championships as a junior and earned All-American honors in the 3,200 relay and in the 1,600 at Nike Nationals.

"She's every bit of as much of a hard worker as anyone I've coached," Hudson said. "I think one of the best superlatives is she's the most consistent runner I've coached. She's always focused and always seems to do what she needs to do."

Winslow came into her senior season with expectations to repeat as state champ and to leave her mark as one of the county's and state's best.

She won Gwinnett County championships in the 800 and 1,600 this season and won Region 7-AAAAA championships in the 1,600 and 3,200. Her time of 10:29.73 in the 3,200 is the second-best all-time in Georgia.

"I don't know what I would have accomplished if I hadn't come here," Winslow said. "I had the same goals my freshman year before I ever knew I was moving here. I knew I wanted to be one of the top runners. It's one of those things you want and you work for all the time, but you really don't know if it's going to happen."

Winslow will take her talents to Tallahassee in the fall where she will compete for Florida State, one of the top running programs in the country.

"To get into a program that good is exciting, so I'm just happy that I'm going there," Winslow said. "They've got some really good girls. Just to be on their varsity team alone is going the be challenging, which is something new. I'm just looking forward to training with faster people and setting all new PRs and kind of moving up to the next level."

Winslow will head to FSU knowing she left Georgia as one of the state's all-time greats after her performance in the 1,600.

Every athlete wants their last game to be their best. Baseball players want their last at-bat to be a home run and quarterbacks their last pass to be a touchdown, but it rarely happens.

In her last race as a Collins Hill runner Winslow went out the only way she knew - a winner.

"That's the way people want to end things," Hudson said. "People want to end with the best for last, but that rarely happens. That's probably her single greatest running achievement."

Runner of the year: Amanda Winslow, Collins Hill, Sr.

Won 1,600-and 3,200-meter state titles for the second year in a row, setting a state record in the 1,600 and the No. 1 in the nation

Field performer of the year: Emily Brewer, Brookwood, Jr.

Won AAAAA state title in discus, region champ, second at county, throw of 130-7 second-best in Georgia this season

Coach of the year: Brad Kinser, GAC

Led Spartans to Class AA state championship

FIRST TEAM

100: Taren White, Grayson, Jr.

Third in AAAAA, won Region 8 title

200: Taren White, Grayson, Jr.

Second in AAAAA, won Region 8 title

400: Symone Glover, Collins Hill, Sr.

Region 7-AAAAA champ

800: Nicky Akande, Collins Hill, Jr.

Placed second in Class AAAAA

1,600: Nicky Akande, Collins Hill, Jr.

Placed second in Class AAAAA

3,200: Carly Egan, Brookwood, Jr.

Placed third in Class AAAAA

100 hurdles: Jasmine Billings, Brookwood, Sr.

Placed sixth at state

300 hurdles: Monique Pate, Peachtree Ridge, Jr.

Placed fifth at state

Discus: Suzee Mills, Mill Creek, Sr.

Placed fifth at state, won county and region titles

Shot put: Cree'Ann Perkins, Shiloh, Jr.

Won Region 8 title, placed eighth at state

Pole vault: Claire Goodson, GAC, Jr.

Won Class AA state title

High jump: Anne Marie Armstrong, Wesleyan, Sr.

Won Class A state title

Triple jump: Tiffany Clarke, Norcross, Sr.

Placed second at state

Long jump: Raven Parrish, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

Placed fourth at state

SECOND TEAM

100: Ariana Walsh, Shiloh, Sr.

Second at region, third at county

200: Symone Glover, Collins Hill, Sr.

County and Region 7 champ, fifth at state

400: Sonikqua Walters, Peachtree Ridge, Fr.

County champ, second at region

800: Laura Serres, North Gwinnett, Soph.

Third at region, fourth at county

1,600: Erika Ramsey, Wesleyan, Soph.

Won Class A state championship

3,200: Lauren Kester, GAC, Soph.

Won Class AA state championship

100 hurdles: Victoria Hines, Berkmar, Jr.

Placed second at county

300 hurdles: Irrion Conaler, Central Gwinnett, Jr.

Placed seventh at state, won Region 8 title

Discus: Tori Nwadiogbul, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

Placed third at state and second at region

Shot put: Ashley Thomas, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

County champ, second at region

Pole vault: Carson Simpson, Mill Creek, Jr.

Placed fourth at state

High jump: Nacirema Mann, Peachtree Ridge, Soph.

Placed third at state

Triple jump: Lauren Brown, Central Gwinnett, Sr.

Placed fourth at state, won county

Long jump: Jessica Tuggle, GAC, Jr.

Placed sixth in AA