It’s Georgia State for Troup’s Tigner
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She was eyeing the big prize.
Last spring, Troup High’s Ashanti Tigner raced her way to a pair of top-six finishes at the state track meet in Albany.
As Tigner geared up for her senior season, she was setting her goals even higher.
“I was hoping to get first place,” said Tigner, who placed in the 100-meter run and the 200-meter run at state last year. “I think it was very possible.”
Unfortunately for Tigner, she’ll never know what would have happened this spring since the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tigner and her teammates were preparing for their first competition in March when they got word that the season was suspended, and it was later canceled.
That was a tough break for Tigner, but the good news is that she isn’t done being a competitive runner.
Tigner has verbally committed to join the Georgia State University track and field program, and she’ll hopefully be on campus this fall.
“I’m just excited, and I’m ready to go to the next level,” Tigner said.
The recruiting process is obviously a lot different at the moment since student-athletes aren’t able to visit schools, and meetings with coaches can’t be done face-to-face.
Everything nonetheless worked out well for Tigner, who was recruited by Georgia State coach Kyle Stevenson.
“My summer track coach was asking me where I’d like to go in Georgia. I told him Georgia State, and he got in contact with the coach, and we started talking,” Tigner said. “We were supposed to do a home visit, but that got canceled. I was supposed to go visit that Friday, but I couldn’t go, and (Stevenson) was supposed to go a track meet at Heard County that next week, but it got canceled. So we pushed everything back. We thought everything was going to open back up, but it didn’t.”
The two kept in touch, though, and Tigner was told by Stevenson that “I’m exactly what he’s looking for. So, I just kind of made my decision based off that. It’s close to home, and I got a full ride. And they’ve got my major there. I’m going to major in nursing. So I just thought, this will be perfect for me.”
Carla Thornton, Troup’s track-and-field coach, is thrilled to see Tigner get this chance.
“That’s what I was talking to her mother about, it’s just the opportunity to go Division I, and she’s close enough where you can still go support her, and she’s able to follow her dreams and run at the next level,” Thornton said. “I think that’s huge. Just the opportunity to do that, it’s everything. She’s a smart girl. She’s not just an athlete, she’s a great student, too.”
Thornton added that she’s known Tigner “since she was young. Me and her mom actually played together at Callaway. So that makes my heart warm, and I know she’ll do great there.”
Tigner had a breakout season as a junior. She won the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash at the Region 5-AAAA meet, and she then posted the best times in both events at the state sectional.
At the state finals in Albany, Tigner was fourth in the 100 with a time of 12.13 seconds, and she was sixth in the 200 with a time of 25.66 seconds.
What would have happened at this year’s state meet remains a mystery, but Thornton wouldn’t have been surprised to see Tigner win a state title.
“It was very possible, and maybe in more than one event,” Thornton said. “She had a really strong chance in the 100, but she’s really improved in the 200 also.”
Thornton hasn’t been able to work out with her teammates since the season was suspended, but she’s been doing what she can to stay fit and ready.
“I get workouts from my coach, and I go to the track on my own,” she said. “Sometimes, coach Kane (Bradfield), he’s trying to do small workouts so we can stay in shape. I’ve been doing all that I can.”