Double gold: Harding High track star ranks No. 1 in the world in her age group

CHARLOTTE — A local high school track athlete just moved to the number one ranking in the world for athletes under 20 years old after setting a personal best at the Nike Outdoor National Championship.

This past weekend, Harding University High School junior Akala Garrett won gold in both the women’s 100- and 400-meter hurdles. She has now become the first female athlete in a dozen years to win both titles in the same year.

Channel 9 has previously covered the track star, who is among the best in the world.

“People tend to talk down on Harding, to talk down on the community because of where we are located,” track coach and Garrett’s mom LaSonja Collins said. “And I want to show that there is light in the darkness.”

On the track, few do it better.

“We’ve pretty much broken every school record that she’s ran in,” Collins said.

When it comes to life, however: “Just the pressures of being one of the top athletes. She doesn’t get a break,” Collins said.

Cheyla Scott, from Butler High School, also competed at the national championship. The reigning state champion tied for second place in the women’s high jump.

Channel 9 has also previously covered the rising senior, who overcame physical and mental challenges to become one of the highest jumpers in the country. For someone who has cleared the highest of highs, Scott said she has also faced the lowest of lows, battling her own thoughts and at one point, depression.

“Yes, there are a lot of good things, things happening outside that people see, but they don’t really understand what you go through yourself,” Scott said. “Corona(virus) came, you kind of really see who really cares about you, don’t really care about you and that’s where the solitarian, the loner came in, and you kind of really don’t know what to do.”

Both athletes competed over the weekend in Eugene, Oregon.

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