COLUMBIA -- Andre Watson never truly realizes just how fast he runs until playing the videotape after the fact.
And even then it's sometimes hard to believe.
"I surprise myself every time," he said.
That was the case once again on Saturday, as Watson's powerful legs propelled the Whale Branch boys to the Class 1-A state track and field championship at Spring Valley High School. It marked the first state championship of any kind for the second-year school.
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"I put it all together today and it showed," Watson said. "I can't do nothing but thank my coaches and teammates for pushing me every day."
The Warriors emerged victorious thanks in part to Watson's first-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dash, with the latter breaking an 11-year-old state record. The senior's 21.16 finish in the event edged the mark established by Richland Northeast's Airese Curry in 2001 by a hundredth of a second.
"I just remembered my dad telling me earlier that he thought I could get this," Watson said of the record. "I didn't believe him."
Watson also helped Whale Branch claim a win in the 4x400 relay and a runner-up finish in the 4x100.
The Warriors, who finished with a team score of 79, bested Ridgeland for the title. The Jaguars -- who finished second with a score of 71.5 -- saw Antoine Johnson and Xavier Capers finish first and second, respectively, in the 110 hurdles while Alvin Brown and Wesley Scott finished second and third in the shot put.
But the highlight for Ridgeland came from Brown's performance in the discus, where his throw of 165 feet, 1 inch, netted the senior his second consecutive state title.
"It was almost like a memory," he said. "A flashback of being in the backyard throwing the discus all day, cracking windows. And (now) I'm a two-time defending state champion."
The Hilton Head Island High School boys team brought home a third-place finish in Class 3-A thanks in part to Friday night's win in the 4x800. The Seahawks followed that up with three runner-up finishes Saturday, which included Jack Manesiotis earning second place in both the 1,600 and 3,200, while the 4x400 relay team came up one-tenth of a second short after leading through the first two laps.
On the girls side, Hardeeville claimed eighth place in Class 1-A after capturing gold in the 4x100 with a time of 50.32. Battery Creek finished 10th in 3-A thanks to senior Gretchen Brown's state title in the 100 hurdles.
Meanwhile, Beaufort High School's boys and girls teams both finished fifth in 4-A. The highlight of the Eagles' weekend came on Madeline Aune's second consecutive state title in the pole vault, as the sophomore's 12-6 showing came just one inch off the state record set in 2010 by Sandi Morris.
"I think maybe being at state meet, I was more pumped up," said Aune, whose personal best entering Lower State was 12-1. "This season, I've been wanting to do a little bit better. So it's a good finish to the season."
But it was Watson's blazing speed that stole the spotlight at the end of the day. The standout -- who won each of his races by a convincing margin -- leaves Whale Branch with a handful of state titles.
Not bad for a sprinter who spent just one year with the Warriors. Watson moved to the Lowcountry before school began after spending three years in Okinawa, Japan -- something he called one of the hardest things he's had to do.
"They took me in," he said. "I felt at home as soon as I got here. From the day I came to visit the school to today."
And if Saturday's results are any indication, he felt right at home on the Spring Valley track, too.
S.C. HIGH SCHOOL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday-Saturday, Spring Valley High School, Columbia
4. Henry Jenkins, Beaufort, 14.69
5. Devonte Green, Beaufort, 14.97
6. Randy Thomas, Beaufort, 14.98
6. Henry Jenkins, Beaufort, 56.97
5. Beaufort (Darren Chaplin, Joshua Skanes, Desmond Howard, Randy Thomas), 3:22.38
7. Beaufort (Joshua Skanes, Desmond Howard, Seth Andrews, Terae Davis), 8:23.51
7. Martin Washington, Beaufort, 22-5
5. Parrish Holmes, Beaufort, 44-11
7. Martin Washington, Beaufort, 6-2
6. DeEndre Jefferson-Fields, Beaufort, 145
9. Beaufort High 32
6. Desmond Bonaparte, Hilton Head Island, 22.40
6. Desmond Bonaparte, Hilton Head Island, 50.63
4. Matthew Alex Couch, Hilton Head Island, 1:59.74
7. Demetrius Smalls, Bluffton, 2:00.87
2. Jack Manesiotis, Hilton Head Island, 4:25.21
2. Jack Manesiotis, Hilton Head Island, 9:29.97
4. Sean McMahon, Hilton Head Island, 9:54.61
2. Hilton Head Island (Matthew Alex Couch, Desmond Bonaparte, Robbie Iulo, Michael Julian), 3:22.78
6. Bluffton (Muhammad Abdul Malik, Michael Spence, Demetrius Smalls, DeVaughn Frazier), 3:24.20
1. Hilton Head Island (Jack Manesiotis, Matthew Alex Couch, Sean McMahon, Robbie Iulo), 8:09.00
7. Michael Julian, Hilton Head Island, 20-10.25
2. Justice Oliver, Battery Creek, 45-4
7. DeVaughn Frazier, Bluffton, 41-9.5
3. Shakil Gause, Battery Creek, 48-9.5
6. Shakil Gause, Battery Creek, 129-2
3. Hilton Head Island 52; 12. Battery Creek 17; 26. Bluffton 7..
1. Andre Watson, Whale Branch, 10.51
1. Andre Watson, Whale Branch, 21.16
3. Charles Jiles, Whale Branch, 4:49.60
4. Devonta Glover, Whale Branch, 4:53.03
6. Devonta Glover, Whale Branch, 10:58.70
8. Nicholas Reid, Ridgeland, 11:54.19
1. Antione Johnson, Ridgeland, 15.41
2. Xavier Capers, Ridgeland, 15.53
2. Antione Johnson, Ridgeland, 57.59
4. Devonte Delaney, Whale Branch, 58.65
2. Whale Branch (John Little, Joshua Fields, Michael Smalls, Andre Watson), 42.91
1. Whale Branch (Andrew Byam, Devonte Delaney, Andre Watson, Charles Jiles), 3:24.34
3. Ridgeland (Immanual White, Israel Allen, Danzell Mitchell, Desjon Frazier), 3:28. 90
3. Whale Branch (Vishawn Burrage, Brandon Morton, Devntae Lykes, Charles Jiles), 8:36.84
4. Ridgeland (Danzell Mitchell, Donald Jenkins, Marquis McClennon, Nicholas Reid), 8:38.59
1. Devonte Alston, Whale Branch, 46-0
4. Saydrian Williams, Ridgeland, 42-8
3. Devonte Alston, Whale Branch, 6-2
4. Jacob Feruson, Ridgeland, 5-10
2. Alvin Brown, Ridgeland, 48-9.5
3. Wesley Scott, Ridgeland, 47-8.5
1. Alvin Brown, Ridgeland, 165-1
1. Whale Branch 79; 2. Ridgeland 71.5
8. Stephanie Taylor-Pollock, Beaufort, 12.67
3. Alexia Neal, Beaufort, 15.48
8. Alexia Neal, Beaufort, 1:06.85
3. Beaufort (Stephanie Taylor-Pollock, Veneshia Holmes, Tiffany Robinson, Latoya Smalls), 48.98
5. Beaufort (Aaliyah Smalls, Latoya Smalls, Stephanie Taylor-Pollock, Veneshia Holmes), 4:03.03
7. Alexia Neal, Beaufort, 5-0
1. Madeline Aune, Beaufort, 12-6
8. Beaufort 30
7. Rachel Friend, Hilton Head Island, 2:23.31
2. Faith Lifer, Hilton Head Island, 5:11.76
5. Savannah Schepp, Hilton Head Island, 12:04.92
1. Gretchen Brown, Battery Creek, 15.66
3. Johnnie Gaston, Bluffton, 1:09.88
7. Battery Creek (Gretchen Brown, Daisja Cannon, La'Schirrae Morral, Quamecha Morrison), 50.29
2. Hilton Head Island (Faith Lifer, Christina Mason, Abi Short, Keyuntay Heyward), 9:51.69
2. Gretchen Brown, Battery Creek, 17-11
4. Gretchen Brown, Battery Creek, 36-1
8. Quamecha Morrison, Batttery Creek, 4-8
10. Battery Creek 26; 14. Hilton Head Island 22; 23. Bluffton 6
3. Tydasha Rivers, Hardeeville, 12.97
8. Breandrea Washington, Ridgeland, 17:57.30
5. Rayshaundra Rankins, Ridgeland, 1:11.92
1. Hardeeville (Tydasha Rivers, Aaliyah Hill, Ravon Grant, Raven Grant), 50.32
4. Aaliyha Hill, Hardeeville, 16-3.5
3. Aaliyha Hill, Hardeeville, 34-1
4. Aaliyha Hill, Hardeeville, 4-9
8. Hardeeville 31; 25. Ridgeland 5