Lennex Walker was so fast Monday she couldn't even slow down to celebrate.
The Arts & Sciences senior became the first Chattanooga-area athlete to earn a state championship at this year's Spring Fling, winning the Class A/AA pentathlon title early Monday afternoon.
But soon after being awarded the first-place medal at Middle Tennessee State University's track, Walker and her mom were back on the road, headed home.
"It really didn't feel like a competition day because we dropped my sister off at school, came to Murfreesboro and then after I competed, we came right back home," Walker said with a laugh. "We didn't even stop to eat, just got Wendy's drive-thru because all I wanted to do was get home and rest."
Walker had good reason to rush home and begin resting. She will compete in four individual events at Thursday's state track and field meet, also at MTSU. She is the top qualifier in each of those events, setting herself up potentially to become only the second female track athlete to win five state titles in the same season.
After failing to win the pentathlon the past two years, Walker easily claimed the title Monday, finishing with 3,306 points, while Unicoi County's Stephanie Wisse finished second with 2,816. Walker won the 100-meter hurdles and long jump and tied for first in the shot put before taking third in the high jump. Before her final event, the 800, she had just one question.
"I asked my coach what's the slowest I can run and still win," Walker said. "I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible since I have to compete in four more events later this week.
"I just went out and put myself in the best position I could early on, and it's very exciting to know that I've reached one of my goals I set a long time ago. I had been close and the last couple of years were heartbreaking, but today I got it done and it feels great."
Signal Mountain's Emma Johnson finished sixth in the A/AA pentathlon, followed by Chattanooga Christian's Laura Beth Turner.
McCallie junior Hakim McMorris leads the Division II decathlon after the first day with 3,275 points, which is 110 more than second-place Daniel Tell of Briarcrest Christian at the halfway mark. McMorris won the 100 meters, triple jump, discus and 400 meters Monday and has traditionally excelled in three of the five remaining events.
"He's in good shape heading into the second day," McCallie coach Mike Wood said. "He had a really good day. Hakim loves this competition and has the perfect temperament to be a decathlete, because he just rolls with whatever happens."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.