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story.lead_photo.caption El Dorado's Breya Clark was named News-Times Athlete of the Year.

What made El Dorado’s Breya Clark the best athlete in Union County this past school year? For the second year in a row, she was one of the premier track-and-field athletes in the state. She won multiple state titles, set a state record and, for the second consecutive year, finished second in the Arkansas High School Heptathlon.

But her emergence in her second sport of basketball put Clark over the top.

There was not a trace of senioritis as she proved to be one of the most improved Lady Wildcats, averaging career-highs with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Clark was also the team’s defensive stopper and one of the top backcourt defenders in the league.

“Breya improved so much from her sophomore year. She went from not playing much to being a huge part of what we did,” said Coach Destinee Rogers. “She was our best defensive player. She had one of the toughest jobs in guarding the best player every game and I trusted her with that every time. I’m so proud of Bree and how far she has, not just as a basketball player but as a young woman as well. She will do well at the next level in track. She is a tough kid.”

Clark signed to run track at Little Rock, formerly UALR. As much as she improved on the basketball court, she somehow managed to save her best for last on the track as well. She won the Meet of Champions in the high jump and triple jump while finishing second in the long jump and was a two-time 5A state champion as a senior in the high jump and triple jump.

“The results speak for themselves. She was a one-girl wrecking crew everywhere she went,” said El Dorado track coach John Koonce. “She’s easily the best athlete that I have had the privilege to coach in my six years of coaching track. She never lost in the high jump or triple jump all year. And she had the best marks in the state in those two events by a significant margin.”

Clark set a state record in the triple jump with a leap of 39-0. She won the high jump at 5-7 and narrowly missed setting a record in that event as well.

“I would say breaking the state record is probably my proudest moment,” Clark said.

In the final event of the school year, she led after the first day of the heptathlon but was overtaken by Camden Fairview’s Tai’sheka Porchia, who claimed the championship. Clark finished as the runner-up for the second year in a row, falling short in her track nemesis, the 800-meter run.

“Breya competed like the champion she is,” said Koonce after the meet. “All in all, she had an awesome season and a great career here at EHS. She has represented El Dorado well.”

Clark said her college coaches are looking for her to continue doing multi-events, perhaps the heptathlon at the next level.

“I’m excited about that because it’s the same I’ve been doing at high school,” she said. As for running the 800 again, Clark chuckled before adding, “Uh no, I don’t really have a comment.”

No, it wasn’t a picture-perfect senior year for Clark. But one race couldn’t take the shine off her season, which was good from start to finish. That’s what made her News-Times Athlete of the Year.

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