Semaj Tolliver is a state champion with national aspirations.
The Cane Bay track star won Class AA state championships in the 100 and 200 meters last month and is preparing for this weekend's New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
Tolliver, who just finished her sophomore year, faces many veterans in the high school season finale. Though she's impressed with the competition, she's not intimidated.
"It was something I wanted to try since the beginning of the season," said Tolliver, who turned in times of 12.32 in the 100 and 25.73 in the 200 at the state meet. "I wanted to see how I stack up nationally."
Tolliver's two gold medals at the state meet earned her The Post and Courier's girls track and field athlete of the year honors.
Tolliver is taking the proper approach to this weekend's meet. She's watching video of her starts, strides and finishes, hoping to take a split-second off her time. She's also preparing mentally.
"I'm just trying to mentally view it as another meet," she said. "I'm taking
it as another track meet where I get to meet new people and make new friends. Hopefully, I'll be able to improve my times."
Her times have attracted an eclectic group of universities. She's been in contact with Georgia, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Iowa and South Carolina.
Academics are a priority for Tolliver, who maintains a B average.
"Cane Bay is moving up to Class AAA next year, and when I was a freshman I set a goal to win state championships in Class AA and AAA," she said. "I also promised myself that I wanted to stay focused in the classroom and make good grades. I want people to know that it's possible to do well in academics and athletics."
Tolliver is already a state champion, but she wants to be a state record-holder by the time she graduates. Benita Kelly of Southside hold the record in the 100 (11.49 in 1993), and Monique Hennagan of Spring Valley holds the 200 record (23.4 in 1994).
Tolliver heads up the 11-member All-Lowcountry team that includes seven state champions in addition to Tolliver: Tyshonda Hawkins, Goose Creek (400); Brianna Blanton, Summerville (800); Lauren DiNicola, Wando, (3,200); Leanna Morrison, Berkeley (400 hurdles); Keri Emanuel, Fort Dorchester (triple jump); Kaysee Sullivan, Fort Dorchester (shot put) and Jalacy Green, Colleton County (discus).
The remainder of the team includes Jasmine Polite, Stratford; Briauna Jones, Summerville; and McClellan Harvin, Wando.
Jim Kilbreth, who led Summerville to second place in the Class AAAA team standings, is the coach of the year.
Reach Philip M. Bowman at email@example.com or at 937-5592.