By Rubin E. Grant
Chakiya Plummer won only one gold medal when Hoover captured the AHSAA Class 7A girls outdoor track and field championship last month. And it came as a part of the Lady Bucs’ first-place 4×400 relay team win.
But probably no one had as a big of an impact on the team as Plummer.
As an eighth grader on the varsity, Plummer won the 300-meter hurdles, helping the Lady Bucs win the 2017 Class 7A title.
But after her freshman year, Plummer moved to Powder Springs, Georgia, and attended McEachern High School. As a sophomore at McEachern, she placed second in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the 100-meter hurdles in the 2019 7A Georgia High School Association State Championships.
Meanwhile, the Hoover girls finished a disappointing seventh in the 2019 7A AHSAA outdoor track and field championships.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 AHSAA state track meet, Plummer returned for her senior year this spring and was once again a major force for the Lady Bucs, despite her best individual result being a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.08.
“She was a game changer for us,” retiring Hoover track coach Devon Hind said. “We didn’t have her in the 10th grade and we took a nosedive, winding up with only 39 points in the state meet. This year we had 107.50 points, so she was a big difference.
“It’s not always the number of points she scores, but the quality of the way she competes. She’s all business on the track and the other kids train harder when they see how hard she’s training.”
The title was especially sweet for Plummer. “It was great,” she said. “After not winning the indoor, we had to win the outdoor.”
Plummer wasn’t done, however. She came back May 10-11 to compete in the AHSAA 37th Heptathlon Championships at Hoover. She finished third overall with 4,000 points. Northridge’s Rashni Walker won with 4,479 points and Austin’s McKenzie Harris was second with 4,122.
Plummer had two second-place finishes, in the 200-meter dash (25.42) and the 100-meter hurdles (14.75), and was third in the 800-meter run (2:29.40). Her best finish in the four field events was 17th in the javelin.
“I finished surprisingly well,” Plummer said. “I didn’t know I would finish that high because I was sixth with one more event. I wanted to get first, but third is good because there were a lot of good athletes out there.”
When she wasn’t training or competing, Plummer was at home, doing virtual school for her entire senior year.
“I kind of regret I did that,” she said. “I still got my work done, but I probably should have gone back (for in-class learning). I missed being around people, but I was scared of COVID. I didn’t want to get that.”
Plummer did attend graduation ceremonies last week at Buccaneer Stadium. She will continue to compete in track at the next level after signing a track scholarship with the University of South Florida in late April.
“I was recommended to South Florida by my high school track coach in Georgia, Cedric Sapp,” Plummer said. “He was my track coach when I started running when I was 9. I’ve known him a long time.”
Plummer will report to South Florida on June 26, taking classes and getting an early start adjusting to college life. She plans to study exercise science with an eye toward pursuing a career as an occupational therapist.
Hind believes Plummer will make an impact on the South Florida track team.
“I think she’s going to be a force in the 400-meter hurdles in college,” Hind said.