Diamonds have proven themselves through the years to be a girl’s best friend.
But if offered a chance at gold, Briley Arnold has also shown in her career that she’ll make the most of that opportunity.
Already with a state title to her credit, the Waccamaw track and field standout defended her crown last year as Class 2A’s best in the 400-meter hurdles event. Arnold’s collection grew later in the day, also winning in the 100-meter hurdles and 4x800-meter relay.
So after walking away with such a haul as a sophomore, one would expect Arnold’s gold rush to continue.
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However, the sequel rarely tends to be as good as the original version.
And that’s despite Arnold once again coming away with a state championship, continuing her mastery in the 400-meter hurdles. In that race, the Waccamaw dynamo was her dominant self, crossing the finish line in 1:03.39 — five seconds ahead of Strom Thurmond’s Maggie Massey.
“I was really nervous,” she said. “I knew that I had to keep it up through the last 200 (meters), making sure I didn’t give up any ground. It felt nice to defend my title at that distance, and set a personal record as well.”
For her career, Arnold has claimed seven state titles. The Warriors standout also left the 2017 state meet with a silver and bronze in the 4x800-meter relay and 100-meter hurdles, respectively.
As consistent as she’s been on the track, she also has become quite synonymous with another postseason honor. For the third consecutive year, Arnold is The Sun News’ 2017 Toast of the Coast Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“She’s really a unique athlete, and has a unique situation,” Waccamaw girls track coach Bill Peterman said previously. “(Arnold) runs the relay and then runs the hurdles as well, so it’s a tough ask in regard to training her for a pair of drastically different type of events.”
No runner locally has beaten Arnold in the 400-meter hurdles in the past three years. Though track and field can be very individual in nature, the Waccamaw athlete has not lost the “team-sense” of things.
This was particularly on display shortly after winning her favorite event.
“I just hope that we as a team can add points, keep on getting closer and maybe pulling this out,” she said.
Though Waccamaw finished third, Arnold — along with a host of other young, talented athletes — are sure to have the track and field squad competing for another team title next year.
This is the seventh installment in a 10-day series honoring the top athletes from the spring high school sports season. Tomorrow: Boys track and field.
2017 Toast of the Coast Girls Track and Field Team
Player of the Year
Notable: Claimed a state title in the 400-meter hurdle event, in addition to finishing second and third in the 100-meter hurdles and 4x800-meter relay.
Notable: In first year throwing the shot put, she earned the Region VI-5A championship and finished sixth at the state meet with a throw of 37 feet, 2 inches
School: St. James
Notable: Won the Region VII-4A title in 100-meter high hurdles and 400-meter hurdles, both events to which she placed second at the state meet.
School: North Myrtle Beach
Notable: Was part of the Region VII-4A title winning 4x400- and 4x800-meter relay teams, also finishing second in the league in the pole vault (8 feet). At the state meet, she finished fourth.
Notable: In her first year competing in the shot put, she set a school record with a throw of 35 feet, 6 inches — good enough to win the Region VI-3A title. Finished fourth among Class 3A competition at the state meet.
School: St. James
Notable: Region VII-4A champion in the 200-meter dash, while claiming second in the league in the 400-meter event — one in which she set a new school record by crossing the line in just over a minute.
School: Carvers Bay
Notable: Claimed Lower State 2A titles in the 100- and 200-meter races, finishing fourth and second, respectively, in those contests at the state track meet.
Notable: Claimed Lower State 3A title in high jump while earning a third-place finish in the state meet with a jump of 5 feet.
School: Green Sea Floyds
Year: Seventh grade
Notable: Qualified for the Class A state meet in the 3,200-meter run and 100-meter high hurdles.
Year: Seventh grade
Notable: Region VI-3A champion in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races, finishing second at the Class 3A state meet in the last of those. Also was a member of 4x800-meter relay team that claimed second at the state level.
School: Carolina Forest
Notable: Qualified for Class 5A state meet in high and long jump events, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively.
Notable: Won Class 5A championship in discus throw with toss of 139 feet in the final round at the state meet.
Coach of the Year
Notable: The Warriors squad saw six athletes qualify for the state meet — one of which walked away with gold — along with one of its relay teams. Waccamaw finished third overall in Class 3A.