Photo by Craig Amoss
Neither of them began their high school track and field careers as hurdlers.
McDonough's Alliayah Ottley did not compete in a hurdle event until her junior indoor track season in the winter of 2018. Even then, she clocked only a modest mark of 9.89 that season, placing seventh at the 1A East regional meet. By the time championship season rolled around in the spring, however, Ottley had become one of the top hurdlers in Southern Maryland, eventually finishing third at the conference meet and second at the 1A South regional meet.
Lackey's Taylor Williams started hurdling during her sophomore outdoor season in 2017, but it was in 2018 (while Ottley was still new to the event) that Williams was finding her stride. She would go undefeated at counties, regionals and states during both the indoor and outdoor seasons, continuing a family hurdling legacy first started by Sydney Williams, a nine-time individual state champion.
The defending state champion, and the rising star. The two seniors were set on a collision course that saw them go head-to-head all throughout the 2019 season as members of the same conference and region. Their meeting at the 2019 SMAC indoor championships was their third of the season in the 55 meter hurdles; in the first two, they were separated by no more than four hundredths of a second.
After each cruised their way to the finals, Ottley prevailed in a much quicker final section to take down the defending conference champion. Ottley would go on to win the 1A East regional meet as well, and the two would continue to trade wins throughout the spring season as well. Incredibly, neither girl won any of the three hurdle titles in the winter or spring, as Sparrows Point senior Mya King proved unstoppable in what was one of the greatest season for 1A hurdlers the state has ever seen.