The letter “S” is common in the Owens’ household: Father Spencer, mother Sonja, younger daughter Shelbi and big sister Savanna. Savanna, a 2018 graduate of Briarcrest Christian School, has given the letter “S” a workout from all her accomplishments as a student athlete.
Some of the superlatives to describe her basketball and track careers for the Lady Saints were successful, superb and sensational. Now add second, as in the second Journal West 10 Media Female Athlete of the Year winner.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Savanna said. “It’s a great privilege to have — great honor.”
The honor from The Shelby Sun Times, The Collierville Independent, The Bartlett Express and The Millington Star is the latest for Owens. She was nominated as a Miss Basketball Finalist this past season and took home the 2018 Commercial Appeal Girls Athlete of the Year – Private Schools.
“Great, great year,” Owens said. “Very busy but a very special year for my family and me.”
Owens has been busy since she stepped foot onto the Briarcrest campus. She participated in volleyball for one year. But track and basketball were on her agenda for four years.
She has helped lead the Lady Saints Varsity Track & Field team to three consecutive Regional Championships. Owens is a two-time 400m Division II State Champion and was on the State runner-up 4x400m relay team from 2015 through 2017.
Owens left her name atop several records at Briarcrest, as in the 400m, 4x400m relay and the 4x200m relay.
Spencer and Sonja were running alongside Savanna the entire time, trying to manage her busy schedule of basketball, varsity track and AAU track. Spencer, a two-sport athlete, played college football.
“He’s also a personal trainer,” Savanna said. “He was my very own trainer. He’s always pushing me, making sure I was at practice on time, making sure I am at this tournament and making sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.”
Sonja was a driving force in Savanna’s life, helping her achieve a 4.2 grade-point average and become a member of the Spanish Honor Society.
“Mom has helped me lot,” Savanna said. “She’s always on my tail, making sure I am making the right decisions. Being a great person, not just a great athlete.”
The administration at Briarcrest describes Savanna as a person who loves to give back and help others by working with children in various sports camps. One of her favorite bible verses is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
She has a younger sister, Shelbi, who loves to cheer her sister on, as well as her grandparents, Frankie Owens, Linda Davis and Gaylord Savannah.
Savanna said two other huge pieces of her support system over the years have been her coaches and teammates.
“Definitely teammates played a huge role in that,” Owens said. “They were great supporters and always pushed me. They always kept me going and made sure I was on the right track.”
Several coaches helped Owens reach her goals as a student athlete, such as Rhynia Henry, Lee Smith, John Colenberg, Kent Ausell, Bill Doss and James Harvey.
Soon University of Memphis Track Coach Kevin Robinson will be added to that list. The Lady Tiger staff out-recruited a pair of SEC schools to get Owens to sign.
“I just had a different feeling at Memphis,” she recalled. “When I stepped on campus, it already felt like home. My coach just made me feel so comfortable and the team. They were really cool and very welcoming. It was a different feeling when I visited the campus.”
The Lady Tiger Track program wanted Owens on the campus because of her overall résumé. Outside of school track, Owens competed in the AAU Junior Olympics this summer and finished eighth in the Nation, giving her an All-American title.
She was a member of the Lady Saints Basketball team for four years and has help lead the team to win the Division-II Regional Championship and State Runner-up in 2014.
Owens was selected to the first team All-Region for three years. In 2016, she was team captain, she assisted in leading the team to win the Division-II Regional Championship, first-team All-State and selected the Division II Region Athlete of the Year.
Four colleges were interested in Owens coming to their school to play hoops.
“I’ve just been playing most of my life,” she said. “I think I just kind of got tired of it. I still love it but I got burned out. With track, I just feel different when I run. I feel free when I run.”
The feeling has led to surreal results, with Owens running 12.57 in 100m, 25.31 in the 200m, 45.52 in the 300m and 56.08 in the 400m. She even posted a 31’11 in the triple jump.
Now it is time to improve those numbers at Memphis and possible get in position to run at the Olympics down the line. But for now, Savanna can only think of one “S” word to describe her latest honor for a stellar high school career, satisfied.
“I’m glad I am getting rewarded for all the hard work I’ve done,” she concluded. “I’ve gone through so much adversity. And I’ve been able to get through it. And it’s great to be rewarded for that.”