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by Gray Yates, Head Girls Track Coach

This article is part one of a reflection series entitled The Last Dance, inspired by the ’96 Chicago Bulls documentary. The original Last Dance10-part documentary series provided an in-depth look at the greatness of the Chicago Bulls‘ dynasty through the lens of the final championship season for the team in 1997-98. The Mount de Sales Academy girls 4×100 meter relay team has been together for three years and owns school records for the 4×100 as well as individual events. Katelyn Perezzola, Jai Dudley, Graham Blackwell, and Jordan Kelly make up this team and hold the title of defending state champions. Reflections included within The Last Dance series will be published after competitions. 

We waited two weeks longer than scheduled but the fastest 4×100 meter relay team in the history of the GIAA returned to the track this past week. In full transparency, I didn’t really want to hand them a relay baton on Wednesday in Albany. Track is usually very enjoyable when you’re so dominant, but my only thought was that this incredible group of young people only had a few more times to do this together. Moments later, the shot sounded and two years of history were repeated like clockwork: Katelyn Perazzola, Jai Dudley, Graham Blackwell, Jordan Kelly. 

Wind the clock back two years to the girls’ freshman and sophomore year at the GHSA State Championship in Powder Springs where they first broke into our record book running a 50.15 and coming out of nowhere to finish third place in one of the most competitive championships in the country. As we transitioned back to the GIAA last year it became very obvious this group was the favorite to win the state championship. When we arrived at Locust Grove for the 2023 state meet I was told quickly by another school’s coach in the finals that he told his girls not even to pay attention to our girls. The gap was too wide. The girls won the state championship running 48.67 while shaving a full second off the state record. 

The list of achievements this week is enough to be proud of. The girls easily won in Albany. They ran a faster time (50.00) than last year at the prestigious Chick-fil-A invitational Saturday in McDonough. Jai broke her own school record in the 200 while winning Saturday (25.69) and had a personal record (PR) in the 100. Katelyn is running the times she ran at state last year. Graham had PR’s in the 100 and 200. Jordan got in shape by being out on the track and competing hard with her teammates.  

Needless to say my brief moment of hesitation on Wednesday has quickly returned to confidence. No matter the outcome of this season, each time this group gets to dance their dance. The baton will be handed off with nothing but gratitude. 

Mount de Sales returns to the track on March 20, 2024 against FPD. 

About Mount de Sales Academy

Mount de Sales Academy, an independent Catholic school established in 1876 and sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy, is a Christ-centered college preparatory community of learners who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.