All in the Family: Blakney signs with Charlotte

by Cliff Mehrtens

West Mecklenburg High sprinter Alvonna Blakney (center) signed a National Letter of Intent to run for the Charlotte 49ers next fall, becoming the third sibling in her family on the squad. Seated from left are Marie Blakney, her mother, Alvonna Blakney and Alvin Blakney, her father. Standing from left are West Meck Principal Eric Ward and Antoine Sanders, Blakney’s hurdles coach. (Cliff Mehrtens/MIM photo)

Alvonna Blakney is following a family tradition.

Blakney, a senior sprinter at West Mecklenburg High, signed a National Letter of Intent to run track with the Charlotte 49ers next fall. She’ll see two familiar faces on the track team – sister Joann Blakney (a sophomore) and brother Kerrick Williams (a junior).

“The main thing I like about the school is the girls’ side of the team, and the boys’ too, is really good,” Blakney said. “They’ve won the conference several years in a row. They’re really good and constantly winning.”

The 49ers aren’t just getting another relative, they’re adding a talented runner.

Blakney has been part of West Mecklenburg’s state championship 400- and 800-meter relay teams in 2011 and 2010. The quartet is again one of the state’s premier groups this season, and recently won both relays at the prestigious Queen City Relays.

Blakney recently ran personal-record times in the 100 meters (11.9 seconds) and 200 meters (25.1 seconds). On April 21, she set another personal record with a time of 14.79 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles at the International Friendship and Freedom Games, at N.C. A&T University.

“I always wanted to go to Charlotte,” Blakney said. “But I took my time, and actually thought about Western Carolina and Johnson C. Smith. Seeing my sister’s progress is one of the big things that really shocked me. The hurdles guy (Tim Vaught) is great, and the coach (Robert Olesen) is good. He’s very hands-on and has a great personality.”

Blakney said the college decision was hard and had been on her mind “for some time.” She plans to major in criminal justice.

Blakney, in addition to being part of coach Sam Willoughby’s powerhouse West Mecklenburg squad, is coached by her father Alvin during AAU competition. She began in track at age 7 in the long jump and soon transitioned into a polished sprinter.

“She needs to stay focused and be technical, a whole lot more technical,” said Alvin Blakney, who has coached all three of his children. “The hard work has already been put in. She just needs to be more technical and more disciplined.”

Alvin Blakney will benefit from being able to see Alvonna, Joann and Kerrick perform on the same team. More important, he joked, is the financial aspect.

“They’ll all be on scholarship,” he said, laughing. “That will save me a lot of money.”

Blakney and her talented teammates competed in the MEGA-7 conference championship meet at West Mecklenburg on Monday, April 30. As they’ve proven the past two years, they’ll be major contenders at the N.C. 4A West Regional on May 12 at Watauga High, and the N.C. 4A state meet on May 19 in Greensboro.

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