I would like to pay tribute to Misty Martin, who passed away Nov. 22 at the young age of 35 and was one of my former athletes. As the obituary stated, she was a member of the 4x100 meter relay team at Wilkes Central High School that set a school record in 2003, which still stands. That relay team consisted of Kristen Southern, Kayla Howell, Kenya Horton and Karissa Kirkland. Kirkland ran in the regionals when the record was initially set. The record was broken a week later by a tenth of a second at the state meet with Martin running.

Misty was an integral part of a track and field team that won three straight conference championships and in her senior year won regionals and finished third in the state. She was among the finest athletes I have coached. I use the term athlete to refer not simply to those who possess athletic skills, but to those who also perform well academically and possess high character.

Misty Martin was the complete package.

However, there is one story that best illustrates who she was. Somewhere in the middle of her senior season I asked Misty to run the 300 meter hurdles in a meet. She had never run this event before, even in practice. She jumped in and turned a rather mediocre time of 70 seconds. However, rather than complaining about it afterward and trying to get out of ever running the hurdles again, she jumped right in again and began training for the event because she knew that for Wilkes Central to win the conference championship meet, we would need to score quality points in this event - perhaps a third or fourth place. Not only did she score some points, but she actually won the event with a time of 49.03. Only Kim Hatfield and Summer Schlesinger have ever recorded faster times for the Eagles over the past 40-plus years of women’s track. Misty was the total team player.

Misty put more life into her brief years than many do in a long life. She will be greatly missed. Misty has “fought the good fight, and has finished the race” (II Timothy 4:7); she ran to win (I Corinthians 9:24), and now has won the only race that really matters. She has earned a prize, that unlike her many gold medals, will never tarnish. I look forward to seeing Misty again at the gathering of those champions who have gained the crown of life.


North Wilkesboro, N.C.

(Editor’s note: Gary Benesh was a teacher and coach in the Wilkes County Schools for many years and now is retired).

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