Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek's Malayshia George has been selected as the Daily Post's girls track and field runner of the year.
Malayshia George was one of the state's best track and field athletes this year.
The Mill Creek senior cemented that claim by winning Class AAAAAA state championships in the 400-meter run and high jump and a runner-up finish in the 200.
It was a decorated season for George, the Daily Post's Runner of the Year, and just the beginning to an eventful year.
George will take her talents overseas later this month to compete in an international meet, the first of many she hopes to have in her career.
"I'm doing this for the experience because I plan on doing it for a long time, so I might as well get used to it now running in different climates," George said.
George will take part in the Down Under Track and Field meet in Australia. It's a three-day international competition with athletes from the U.S., Australia and other various nations. It's an opportunity to see how she stacks up against some of the world's top runners.
"I want to go professional (one day)," George said. "I want to go to Rio, so why not go."
Rio de Janeiro is the site of the 2016 summer Olympics, the ultimate goal for any track athlete. But before George can think about one day wearing a red, white and blue uniform, she will hone her skills at Clemson.
"I know it's going to be harder, but I'm ready for it," George said.
George always seemed to raise to the level of her competition. She grew up in Minneapolis, where she was a four-time state champion in the 200, 400 and two relay teams. George and her family moved to the Atlanta area in 2011 before her junior year at Mill Creek.
She found her way onto the basketball team where she played guard. But George had her most success on the track. She placed second in the state in the high jump and was fourth in the 400 and seventh in the 200.
It was just enough to make her realize the competition was a lot tougher in Georgia.
"In Minnesota there was no one really there to push me," George said.
"Down here a lot of people pushed me to do better and there are a lot of great runners I needed to beat to be a great runner myself."
George pushed herself into that great runner category this spring. She won Gwinnett County championships in the 200, 400 and high jump and repeated as champ at the Region 7-AAAAAA and Sectional meets.
She nearly pulled off the trifecta of state titles in Albany after winning the high jump and 400, but she finished second in the 200.
"I felt like I could have done that, but by the time it came in the finals my body was exhausted," George said. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse, but runner-up is not that bad."
George posted a mark of 5 feet, 6 inches to win the high jump title. She ran 54.07 seconds to claim the 400 title and had a time of 24.30 for her runner-up finish in the 200.
"I did what I wanted to do," George said. "I wish I would have done better in the high jump, but there's only so much you can accomplish. It was a good year."
George was also a member of the 400 and 1,600 relay teams that placed sixth at state.
The 1,600 relay team's finish helped secure Mill Creek's runner-up finish in the team standings. It was highest finish in school history.
"It was stressful because I knew we had to get at least sixth place in the 4x400 relay to get runner-up, but we got it done," George said.
George's talents made her one of the state's top athletes this year, but it was her infectious smile that made her popular with her opponents. It's a combination she looks forward to carrying to Australia this summer and Clemson this fall.
"I've just got to make some new friends," she said with a smile.