Pharist O'Neal won a total of 6 individual state titles at C.H. Flowers including a back to back sweep of the outdoor 4A state titles in the 100 and 200 meter dash in 2016 and 2017. O'Neal was consistently one of the state's fastest sprinters and key member of several CH Flowers state champion teams and relays. She finished high school with PR's of 7.08 in the 55, 11.73 in the 100, and 24.02 in the 200.
What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
My most memorable race is the 100 meter dash at last year's outdoor state championship. It was a great moment because it was the first state title I won in an open event. After coming off an injury and disappointing state championship the year before, it was a stepping stone for the rest of my high school career.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment has been balancing the life of a student-athlete. Even though track is time consuming, education is first. Being able to become my high school's valedictorian while fulfilling the demands of track means a lot. It serves an example that winning on and off the track (or in any sport) is possible!
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Beginning track in the 9th grade, my most difficult obstacle was getting use to the sport. I had no idea how long meets were or what track required of me. Also, weight lifting was very difficult for me when I started off. I had not lifted a day before joining the team and began lifting the bar. Today, I can lift quadruple the weight I started off with.
What will you miss the most?
I will definitely miss my coaches and teammates hands down. Not seeing them often after spending pretty much six days a week for four years with them will be different. But, I'm excited about bringing home good news about my college endeavors. Also, I will DEFINITELY miss those New Balance Nationals book bags. The grand reveal of the national bag was always an exciting day.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
Track has opened so many doors for me but it was not easy getting to this point. But, if you work hard enough you will accomplish your goals. Write down your goals and look at the list before you go to practice. That way, when the practice gets tough, you will be reminded of your purpose. Track is 90% mental, so you should constantly keep your goals in mind that way you will not lose your focus. Also, HAVE FUN! Do not stress over not setting a personal record every race. Listen to your coaches, eat well and hydrate, have a short memory, be disciplined, and the results will come.
What are your college plans?
I will be attending the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall as an engineering major. I also will be continuing my track career as a member of their women's track and field team.
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I would like to give a special thank you to God, my parents, and teammates. To Coach Rose, thank you for always having an open door for me to talk to you or get a quick nap in your office. To Coach Dwayne, you've worked closely with me during my track career and it is because of you that I am a successful athlete. You're the best. To my loving Coach Brady, I know that your yelling meant that you wanted the best for me. To the rest of the coaching staff, Bryan, Bradley, Casaundra, Moore, Noelle, Rob, Shep, Mohamed, I love you all! Also, I would like to give a shoutout to the other two Migos, Collese and Ryley, you guys rock! Finally, to my best friends Beatrice and Christina for their support.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'm so grateful for my high school journey. It has taught me how to really use my resources to go after my goals. I cannot wait to explore this next stage of my life. I will continue using everything I have learned thus far and utilize it to learn and grow in college. Class of 2017, we are out!