By Alex Maminakis

The Journal

Addison Berry lay on her back after her 800-meter run — the final event of her heptathlon — in Jacksonville, Fla., last weekend when her dad ran up to her to deliver the exciting news.

West-Oak’s Addison Berry, fourth from right in pink, poses with the group of competitors that she competed with in the heptathlon over the weekend in Jacksonville, Fla. Berry won the meet and earned a No. 1 national ranking in the event — her final high school meet before heading to Wake Forest in the fall. (Courtesy of Addison Berry)

Not only had Berry come from behind to win the meet in Jacksonville, but with her performance she also became the No. 1-ranked high school girls heptathlon competitor in the entire country.

Berry — the now-former West-Oak track and field star whose senior season was cut short this spring — won the heptathlon at the Jacksonville Athletic Club Combined Events Qualifier over the weekend with 4,903 points. Among all high school girls competitors across the country, her score over the weekend elevated her to No. 1 in the nation in her final meet before she begins her collegiate career at Wake Forest this fall.

“It’s something that I’ve never had happen before, which was really cool — I’ve never been ranked like that,” Berry said. “There was a lot of good competition that really just pushed me to do better in each of my events, and ended up with a good result and a first-in-the-nation mark, which is really awesome.”

Many of the national track and field meets this summer have been canceled due to COVID-19, but Berry was happy for the opportunity to get back to competition this weekend after a trying few months following the cancellation of the high school season.

She’s stayed busy with training, but it hasn’t been easy since she isn’t allowed to use any of the high school facilities.

“It’s been super hard. It’s definitely been difficult — I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was,” she said. “It was hard, because I didn’t have a track, so I was running a lot on the grass — just finding fields and doing all my workouts there. My dad literally went to Lowe’s and bought PVC pipes and assembled like three hurdles. … I wasn’t able to high jump, didn’t have a long jump pit, so things like that made it a little bit harder, but we worked through it and found different ways to train. Yeah, and just trying to stay motivated, and I’m really glad I did because it was worth the result.”

Berry had a successful and decorated high school career at West-Oak. In 2019 alone, she was named the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports Class 3A Track and Field Player of the Year following three individual state championships in the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump.

Berry competed in the heptathlon for the first time last summer, and one year later she’s ranked No. 1 in the country.

“It’s definitely encouraging, as I go into Wake in a month, just to see how much I have improved, and the potential to improve from here on out,” she said. “Just really thankful to have the resources that I have and the people around me that really helped me out this past year to get me where I am now.”

Berry can’t wait to soon get to Wake Forest and begin competing in the ACC, although a lot of her near-future schedule is still up in the air because of the ongoing pandemic. She’s been in contact with her new coach and teammates, but said she’s been hearing different things almost every day.

“Just kind of playing it by ear. Everything changes daily — I hear new things all the time,” she said. “But I’m just hoping that we’ll get a season in some way or another, because I’m super excited.”

Last weekend’s stellar showing in Jacksonville was the perfect way for Berry to sort of cap off her “high school” career, even if her shortened senior season ended months ago.

Wake Forest and the ACC await, but Berry is forever grateful for her time at West-Oak and the growth she experienced there both as a person and as an athlete.

“I’m really glad that I was able to finish with a good note, because the (high school) season just ended so abruptly,” she said. “And I’m just really thankful for everything that West-Oak has done for me. So to be able to put a good mark out there and represent my school like that, I’m just really thankful I’m able to do that, because West-Oak’s been a huge part of high school, and I would not be where I am if I hadn’t been at that school with the coaching staff and my teammates that have surrounded me there. So I’m super thankful for everything they’ve done for me and how they’ve influenced my athletic career.”

[email protected] | (864) 882-2386

Follow on Twitter @alexmaminakis