By Rory Sharrock
It's been a historic school year for the student-athletes at Mundy's Mill High School.
This past winter, the girls basketball team won its first region championship with a 24-3 overall record.
During the spring, the baseball squad placed in the coaches' poll for the first time and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
However, the icing on the cake for this milestone year was capped off Wednesday when girls hoopster and hurdler Sarah Omotayo signed her letter of intent to attend the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, becoming Mundy's Mill's first female athlete to receive a Division I scholarship.
"I don't want to say I feel accomplished because I'm no where near finished. I'm just grateful and thankful. I just feel real good right now," said Omotayo.
Omotayo, 16, who will march across the stage this Friday to receive her diploma, is an immensely talented student and athlete who has always excelled in both areas of life.
In the classroom, she's attacks her subjects in the same manner as she plays defense on the hardwood for the Lady Tigers with intensity and passion as she climbs her way up the ladder of academic success.
Her report card is plastered with "As" and "Bs", which has earned her spot with the acclaimed organizations as the National Society of High School Scholars as well as Who's Who Among American High School Students.
However, it's on the track where she truly shines as one of the best athletes in the Southern Crescent, male or female.
Despite having a natural adaptation to running the hurdles, Omotayo's track career began as a sprinter in the 200 and 400-meter as well as in relay races.
However, after suffering an injury as a sophomore and competing in the hurdles near the end of her junior year, it was clear that she was born, not only to run in this event, but perform at an accelerated pace.
Now, fast forward one year later and the evidence is clear that she's made the right decision in terms of her athletic standing.
"God does things for a reason," she said. "I really got down on myself when I got hurt in 10th grade. I didn't know if I was going to be back at the speed that I was before. He showed me the hurdles and I picked them up just like that."
Throughout her glorious career at Mundy's Mill, Omotayo established multiple school records and put the track program on the map as a force to be reckoned with in Clayton County.
Among her laundry list of achievements include winning 10 state medals and medaling in six different events.
In 2007, she was named the Atlanta Track Club Best Performer. Earlier this year, she was honored as the 100% Wrong Club Female Athlete of the Year.
Along with winning these prestigious awards, Omotayo was a member of the AAU All-American team from 2001 through 2007.
"She's been a team leader and captain. She's an wonderful young lady. I know she's going to great things in college and we're going to see her on the Olympic stage one day," said Mundy's Mill track head coach Cortez Allen.
With such an impressive resume, Omotayo was receiving offers from schools across the country. However, it was the vibe on campus, small town college-like atmosphere of Hattiesburg and the comradery between her future teammates that won her over to pursue her dreams as a Lady Golden Eagle.
"The team felt like a big family. Everyone got along with each other. Everyone practices together, not just the girls by themselves, boys by themselves, sprinters or hurdlers by themselves," she said.
While running on the collegiate level, Omotoyo plans to add her name to the list of athletes to compete for the United States during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
She's already raised the bar as one of the top hurdlers in Georgia, however, through hard work and training, she can elevate her skills to advance to the qualifying meet and earn a spot on the national team.
"I'm working hard for the 2012 Olympics. You have to train hard and remain focused. You can't let anything get in your way because the slightest thing can get off track," she said.
Omotayo concluded her senior year with gold medals at the county meet in the 300-meter hurdles (45.75), 400-meter dash (59.66),4x100-meter relay (48.18) and 4x400-meter relay (4:03.79).
During the state meet in Albany, she took fifth in the 300-meter hurdles (45.20) and seventh in the 400-meter (58.31).
Omotayo plans to study computer engineering while in school with plans of owning her own firm alongside being an Olympic champion.