Days before heading to Greensboro, where she finished second in the state in discus, Chesney Gardner reunited with her former basketball coach as her hometown recognized her for one of a growing list of career achievements.

Alderman Tim Raines coached the Owen Warlassies from 1994 until his retirement in 2017, a span that encompassed Gardner’s freshman and sophomore seasons. On May 13, as the board of aldermen opened its regular session, the former coach read a proclamation from mayor Don Collins.

Raines was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the board in August of 2018, 14 months after retiring as a history teacher and basketball coach at his alma mater.

“It’s a real honor for me to able to do this for Chesney,” he said before reading the proclamation. “For those of you who don’t know, she played for me the first two years she was in high school and like an idiot I retired before she graduated.”

Raines, who delivered the commencement address at the Owen graduation last summer, went on to call Gardner a great athlete, scholar and person.

“She was in the top 15 in her class,” Raines said of Gardner.

The proclamation recognized Gardner for winning the Pat Best Memorial Trophy, on May 2. The award is given to the top female athlete in the state each year by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

Gardner, the Owen High School Female Athlete of the Year as a freshman and sophomore and the school's top overall athlete as a junior last year, finished her basketball career with 1,946 points and 1,004 rebounds. She helped lead the Warlassies to their first 20-win season in over a decade in 2018. 

She set the school record for the discus throw as a senior and eclipsed that mark repeatedly throughout her track and field career at Owen. Gardner set a personal record of 140 feet in the event on May 17, during the NCHSAA Track & Field Championship at N.C.A&T Stadium. 

The throw landed her a second-place finish in the championship tournament. She placed fifth in the state in the shot put. 

Hours after her performance in the championship, was crowned prom queen for Owen. 

"Chesney Gardner overcame tragedy as a child," Raines read from the proclamation. "She credits the memory of her best friend Kori Goodson as her motivations to succeed."

Gardner committed to play basketball at University of South Carolina-Aiken in November of 2018. 

"(We're) pleased to honor this outstanding student athlete for her commitment to sports, and for being a fine example of American youth," the proclamation continued. "We are honored to present this proclamation honoring Chesney Gardner."

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