Baker, four-time state champ, stayed on track

By Steve Williams

In life, people often have to overcome hurdles. In the sports world, track and field hurdlers can run into difficulty, too.

Brianna Baker, Grace Christian Academy’s female Student-Athlete of the Year, experienced adversity at times in her high school career, but managed to stay on track and finish her senior season as the state’s most accomplished hurdler.

Looking back, Baker said she was proud of her progress as a 300 and 100-meter hurdler “despite coaching challenges.”

The sprint coach at GCA got Brianna started in the hurdles her sophomore season. “He ended up moving to Florida within the past couple of years, so I lost him,” recalled Baker.

“I’ve had to go to lots of different people to finally get my hurdle techniques to improve. I ended up running a different kind of technique with my club coach (Shane Begnaud at the 26 Training Academy).”

Baker became Grace Christian’s first female state champion in 2021 and she was team captain for two years.

At the Division II-A state meet in Murfreesboro in late May, Baker finished her prep career strong. She won her third straight title in the 300 hurdles (44.50) and claimed her first championship in the 100 hurdles (14.66) after being the runner-up the past two years. Both of her winning times are school records.

Brianna took on a new event – the discus throw – her junior season and placed sixth at the state and set a school record.

This season Baker went all out, adding the long jump to her list for the first time plus taking on the pentathlon, which includes five events. She placed second in a field of 17 athletes and totaled a school record 3,143 points.

Brianna also had a school record leap of 17 feet, 2¼ inches as she tied for first place in the long jump event at the pentathlon. Later at the state meet, she took third place in the long jump.

“What I’m most proud of is setting PRs (personal records) throughout my high school career, simply because I didn’t have that much competition in the regular season,” said Baker.

She leaves GCA with her name on seven school records in outdoor track and field.

Brianna also excelled in the classroom and was the GCA co-Salutatorian. She had a weighted 4.44 GPA and was a NHS member and AP Scholar.

Baker signed with East Tennessee State University in February and will be going on a “free ride” as she received academic and athletic scholarships. She plans to major in Nursing.


Mehegan selected GCA male honoree

Reilly Mehegan, Grace Christian’s male Student-Athlete of the Year, was a standout distance runner in cross country and track throughout his high school career.

In his senior year, he earned the team MVP award in cross country for the fourth year in a row, after being All-Region and running in the state meet four years.

In track this spring, Mehegan received the seventh place medal in the 3200-meter run at the TSSAA Division II-A state meet at MTSU.

During his career in track, he posted top times of 4:41 in the mile run and 10:08 in the 2-mile run, which rank third all-time at GCA.

Mehegan also played soccer four years for the Rams and received the Playmaker of the Year award as a junior.

“Reilly has demonstrated exceptional athletic ability, dedication and leadership throughout his high school career,” said Grace Christian Athletic Director Marcus Dilligard.