Washington High School freshman Rayana Burns is the first female student-athlete in school history to qualify to the State track meet in four events.
Burns will be competing in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes and the high jump beginning at the State meet Friday.
Washington junior Maddy Garrison has qualified to State in the 1600-meter run. Her event final is set for Saturday at 1:35 p.m.
The Record-Herald caught up with the duo and head coach Louis Reid at the high school Wednesday afternoon.
“Branden Gray made it to State in four events in 1999 (the year the Blue Lion boys track team finished second at State in Dayton),” Reid said. “I think his events were the 100, the 200, the 4 x 1 and 4 x 4. I’m not sure of anyone else (going to State in four events).”
For the ladies, Reid said, “The closest I remember is Alexis Gray going in three events.”
Burns is one of the youngest competitors at State.
She is one of only two freshman in the high jump; there are three freshmen total in the 100, 200 and 400-meter events.
“It feels good,” Burns said. “It’s just a really good experience to be (going to State).”
Burns stands in sixth place in the high jump at 5’ 4”. Two competitors cleared 5’ 6” at Regionals, three others cleared 5’ 5” and three other competitors besides Burns cleared 5’ 4” at their Regional meet.
Burns’ time of 12.97 in the 100-meter dash ranks 15th out of 16.
Times range from 12.08 to 13.11.
In the 200-meter dash, Burns’ time of 25.82 is 14th-best.
Times of other State-qualifiers in that event range from 24.50 to 26.01.
In the 400-meter dash, Burns is ninth with a time of 57.72.
Times in that event vary from 55.73 to 59.27.
Does any of that mean anything to Burns?
“It does,” Burns said. “We’ve been working hard this week. My goal is to make the podium. We’re just trying to get there.”
Burns will compete in the high jump Friday beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The 100-meter dash semifinals are set for 2:20 p.m.; the 400-meter dash semis are scheduled for 3 p.m. and the 200-meter dash semifinals go at 3:40 p.m.
The top two finishers in each heat, plus the next five fastest times, qualify to the finals Saturday afternoon.
“I get excited, but, I’m kind of nervous because I’m so young,” Burns said. “To be able to get on the podium, to my goal, I’ll have to work really hard to get there. I’m kind of pushing myself, doing different things.”
Burns’ personal best results are: high jump, 5’ 4”; 100-meter dash, 12.51; 400-meter dash, 57.02 200-meter dash, 25.49.
This will be Garrison’s second time at the State track meet. She went last year as a member of the 4 x 400-meter relay.
Garrison made a tremendous charge at the end of the 1600-meter race at Regionals, going from seventh place to third.
“I’ve just always known to kick it in (with 300-meters to go),” Garrison said. “I haven’t really done that this year. I really didn’t have much thought about it. It was kind of at the moment. I felt like I had that push in me. I pulled down deep and I did it.”
Can she get on the podium at State?
“That’s my goal,” Garrison said.
Garrison ran a personal best time of 5:19.26 to place third at the Regional.
“My plan is to get out slower, as I did at Regionals,” Garrison said. “I usually can go out in a 1:09. At Regionals, it was 1:13. I think that kind helped my kick at the end. I think I conserved energy a little bit. It’s going to take another personal best.”
“Each week we talk to the girls about setting goals,” Reid said. “Just making sure when they go out and compete, it’s no different; don’t change anything. The biggest thing that happens to athletes when they get to the District, or Regional or State, they think, ‘oh, man, this is Regionals,’ and they change. If you keep things the same — warm-up the same, do the same things that keep you comfortable — you’ll be successful.
“These girls did a good job of managing their stress levels,” Reid said. “Keeping each other calm. I was really proud of how they worked with one another. Maddy kind gave some advice at Regionals, some of her silly, superstition things, I guess. But, each of them really focused; they were focused. Our whole team has been focused all year and that’s helped us achieve our goals.
“If you look, all season long, all of our girls have continued to get better,” Reid said. “We’re hoping to see our best at the State meet. They’ve worked really hard this week. Coach (Colt) Harrington, Coach (Ray) Anderson, Coach (Corey) Dye, Coach (Mark) Bihl, each coach has their own thing. I coach the sprints, so I’ll work with Ray.
“Coach Harrington works with Maddy,” Reid said. “Coach Dye works with Ray on the high jump. Coach Anderson, he bounces around. He was a college All-American in hurdles and he knows some speed stuff that we’ve done.
“Coach Bihl keeps us strong in the weight room,” Reid said. “I think our coaching staff has done a good job with these athletes and helped to mentally prepare them. I have no doubt they have the potential to get on the podium; that’s what our goal is. I think we still have the best to come yet this weekend. They’re really prepared; I’m excited for them.”
Not taking oneself too seriously could be a key to the girls’ success, according to Reid.
“I think, because they’re a little goofy, it helps them,” Reid said with a smile. “Some athletes are so serious, they can be too serious and if something doesn’t go the way you thought it should, it just throws everything off.
“These girls have a good balance,” Reid said. “They balance it out. They’re not so serious. All of the coaches are looking forward to seeing them compete.”
Burns and Garrison are teammates throughout the high school sports season: on the cross country team in the fall, on the basketball team in the winter and then on the track team in the spring.
“It’s helpful,” Burns said. “Because, we’re always messing around and just being goofy. If one of us gets down, we’re always there to help each other back up.
“I love working with her,” Garrison said. “If I’m having a bad day, it’s great coming to track; she always lifts my spirits. She’s a goofy person to be around. So, it’s fun, being with her all year ‘round.”
Maddy Garrison was First Team, All-District in the 1600-meters.
Rayana Burns was First Team, All-District in all four of her events.
Burns was also named the Southeast District Athlete of the Year in Division II.
Drake Litteral of Miami Trace was named the male Co-Athlete of the Year in Division II.
Katie Seyfang of Miami Trace was First Team, All-District in the throwing events and teammate Macy Creamer was First Team, All-District after winning the 300-meter hurdles at the District meet.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1