DAYTON — While a lot of athletes were earning trips to their first state championship, this state stuff is getting to be old hat for Beavercreek’s Jordan Grant.
After finishing second in the 800-meter run during Friday’s Division I regional track and field championships at Welcome Stadium, the Beavers distance runner qualified for her third state championship this school year.
And, oh yeah, she’s a freshman.
Grant qualified for the Division I state cross country championships in the fall, she was at the state indoor track and field championships this past winter, and now she’s off to Columbus next weekend for outdoor track. She may be a freshman, but she’s already savvy to mustering up a winning race strategy.
“I knew I was seeded about fourth, and then two girls who were in front of me scratched. So I just knew that I had to stay up with the front girl, Alexa Jennings (of Centerville),” Grant said. “I thought I was in good shape. Then, when you get to the finish, your legs are dead but you just try and give it your all.”
Grant will be joined by the Beavercreek girls team of Alexandra Rankin, Alexandra Applin, Alexus Kennedy and Nikki Stephens. That quartet finished third in the 400-meter relay final to advance.
According to Beavercreek assistant coach Jerry Clager, the girls came in with one of the fastest seeding times and expected to move on. “They just wanted to make sure they finished in the top-4, but with a relay event you never know. Anything can happen. It’s good to see them move on to state,” he said.
The Beavers came in with a 49.77-second seeding time, but finished the regional final in 49.25 to advance. Three of the girls — Rankin, Applin and Stephens — are also freshmen. They’ll join Beavercreek juniors Kennedy in Columbus.
Tyler Everidge started the Greene County drive to state in the boys high jump competition. The Bellbrook senior placed second with a jump of 6 feet, 6 inches, but things got a little bit exciting for him when the competitors jumped the 6-4 height.
“I’d missed the first two attempts, so having to get over the bar on that third attempt was pretty nerve wracking,” he said. “But my coach got me straightened out with my steps, and I was fine after that.”
Fairly fresh off her three district wins a week ago, Fairborn’s Aaliyah Patten will be making her third trip to Columbus.
The Skyhawk junior placed second in the 400-meter final. She didn’t have a lot of time to celebrate her runner-up finish, but scurried off to compete in the 200-meter final.
She was sixth in the 200 and the 100 finals. The top four finishers in each event qualified to Columbus.
“I’m going to just focus my training on the 400 and work on maintaining my speed, being stronger and fitter,” she said. “I’ll do what I can to make it a good race and come up with a better time.”
Xenia distance standout Daniel Michalski went into Friday’s boys 1,600-meter run with a strategy of his own, and it earned him a fourth-place finish and the opportunity to represent the Buccaneers in Columbus. He said he pushed the two Cincinnati Xavier runners, and then did his best to stay with them at the end.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’m glad for the opportunity to run here. I’ve been thinking about it all season as a big-time goal. I’m really thankful — to God first, and to my teammates and coaches — they believed in me and they pushed me to this point.
Michalski said his parents helped ease the pre-race pressure a bit, too.
“They said they loved me regardless of the outcome,” he said. “And that means a lot to me.”
The Division II regional championships will take place starting at 11:30 a.m. today at Welcome Stadium.
The state track and field championships will be held June 6-7 at the Jesse Owens track facility on The Ohio State University campus, in Columbus.