Two young women from Washington High School are working hard this week, striving to fine tune any last little thing that may need attention as they prepare to compete in the State track meet beginning Friday in Columbus.
A member of the graduating Class of 2018, Maddy Garrison and a member of the Class of 2020, Rayana Burns, are returning to State.
For Garrison, it will be her third time going to the State track meet and it will be the second year in a row for Burns.
Last season, Burns went to State as a freshman in four events: the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes and the high jump.
This year, Burns returns to State in the 200 and 400-meter dashes and the high jump.
Last year, Burns was 15th at State in the 100-meter dash. This year, at the Regional meet, Burns made it to the finals, placing seventh in 12.75.
In 2017, Burns was 14th at State in the 200-meter dash.
Last week at New Concord, Burns placed fourth in the finals in a time of 26.71.
Burns won this year’s Regional in the 400-meters in 57.92.
That almost exact same time (57.91) placed her 10th at State last year.
In the high jump, Burns tied for second at this year’s Regional with a jump of 5’ 4”. She previously set a new school record of 5’ 7 3/4”.
Last year, Burns placed 11th at State with a jump of 5’ 2”.
Garrison placed third at the Regional last week in the 1600-meter run, qualifying to State with a new school record time of 5:14.40.
Last year, Garrison was 16th at State in 5:37.59.
This year, Garrison enters the State with the 11th-fastest time in the 1600.
Times range from 4:59.59 to 5:22.52.
All 16 Division II 400-meter runners clocked in at the Regionals in under one minute.
Burns’ time of 57.92 puts her fourth out of 16.
Times range from 56.71 to 59.65.
In the 200-meter dash, Burns is 16th. The times posted at the Regionals range from 24.17 to Burns’ 26.71.
In the high jump, Burns is tied for second with four other competitors at 5’ 4”.
Lilly Ritz of Cambridge has the best height coming in at 5’ 5”.
The Record-Herald spoke to Burns Wednesday morning.
“It’s fine with me,” Burns said, when asked about qualifying to three events instead of four last year. “I feel like there’s been weight taken off, since I’m not running (the 100).
“In the high jump, I’ve been doing really well this year,” Burns said. “I got the school record with 5’ 7 3/4”. I feel really good. I feel I could place at State. I want to make the podium (top eight) for high jump. I think I can do that. I’ve been working really hard at it and I think I can get there.
“I think the 400 is my favorite race,” Burns said. “I just make sure I get out, then I stride out and then kick it in over the last 100. I’m really good at that race and I like to run it.
“In the 200, I think the workouts that I do for the 400, they kick in for my 200 around the curve,” Burns said. “I think I can do pretty well in the 200.
“The experience of being there last year, I think it’s more comfortable for me this year,” Burns said. “I just know more of what I’m doing and I feel like I’ve been working even harder this year than last year. And I’ve got more to give this year.”
“First of all, I have to thank God,” Burns said. “He gives me everything; the ability and power, all the athletic ability that I have to do what I’m able to do. Most people aren’t able to do stuff like this, so I give all the glory to God.
“I’d like to thank my coaches for pushing me and getting me through the season and just helping me to get better,” Burns said. “And my parents, because they are always running me around everywhere and they do so much for me.”
Burns is the daughter of Richard and Shawna Burns.
“I’m really excited to see Rayana make it back to State,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “She’s made it back in three events. She’s running extremely well. This year, she’s come in with a great focus. She’s worked extremely hard and she’s even taken on a leadership role. I’m really proud of the improvements she’s made.
“She is very coachable,” Reid said. “That makes it enjoyable. Herself and Maddy, they are both very coachable. They take coaching well. When you give them a point on something you’d like to see them improve in, they take it to heart and they really work on that. That’s what has really helped Rayana to be successful.
“First of all, her goal is to get on the podium,” Reid said. “She’d like to get on the podium in the high jump and the 400. In the 200, we’ll have to put a little extra work in. But, that’s possible, too. She could possibly medal (top eight) in all three events. Overall, her goal is just to get on the podium this year and it’s an achievable goal.
“We’re scaling things back here in practice this week,” Reid said. “We’re focusing more on technique. She has all the tools. We’re just trying to keep her mentally ready, focused and prepared. She seems really excited about it. I’m really excited to see what she can achieve there.
“Rayana is also going to be recognized as Academic All-Ohio,” Reid said. “You have to have at least a 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and you have to compete at the State meet. She has a 3.6 GPA.”
Reid then spoke about Maddy Garrison.
“Maddy has worked extremely hard this year,” Reid said. “She’s worked with Coach (Colt) Harrington and coach (Tim) Walters over the past few years. This year she worked really hard with Coach Walters. She’s grown leaps and bounds. Each year she seems to knock time off. This is her third time going to State. (Garrison was a member of the 4 x 400-meter relay as a sophomore and this will be her second year in a row at State in the 1600.)
“Each year, she gets better,” Reid said. “This year, she seems more relaxed. She set the school record last week in the mile. She broke Alexis Gray’s record. She ran really well. We feel like we’re going to see her best race up at the State. Coach Walters and Maddy have been talking about it. She’s really focused and prepared to run really well. We feel she can get on the podium.
“She’s always been a vocal leader,” Reid said. “She brings a positive attitude and works extremely hard. She’s worked hard for everything she’s achieved. We truly believe she can make the podium.
“And she’s going to continue her career at Marshall,” Reid said. “It’s been great coaching her.”
“She’s healthy and she’s confident,” coach Tim Walters said. “I can’t expect anything but a great race out of her, I really can’t. She’s got people all over the country rooting for her. A lot of my track buddies over the years have jumped on board to encourage her, including a couple of Olympians.
“She’s feeling good about the race,” Walters said. “I’ve seen her confidence level rise tremendously in just the past couple of weeks. That’s what it takes. You gotta believe. You have to believe.
“She’s trained at a 5:04 mile pace,” Walters said. “5:04 will get you very high on the podium, if not the highest on the podium.
“I firmly believe that there’s no one who’s going to be running in that race who is any faster,” Walters said. “Maddy has tremendous leg speed. She’s proved that in the 4 x 4 over the year. She is fast and she has the ability to have a great kick.
“Our strategy is to stay back a little bit (more) than we normally would,” Walters said. “At least through the first 800. Because really, lap three is where the race begins. We’re going to manage our energy levels a little better than we have early in the race, so we have a little bit more energy for the second part of the race.”
“One more mile,” Maddy Garrison said.
That’s all that’s left in an outstanding, record-setting career for the recent high school graduate.
“I’ve been feeling really good,” Garrison said. “Especially after Saturday, running my PR and breaking the school record. That’s given me a lot of confidence.
“Workouts have been going well,” Garrison said. “I only have two more workouts left until the big race and I’m feeling pretty good.”
Garrison spoke about her No. 11 seeding.
“I really don’t pay attention to those,” Garrison said. “Everyone runs better when they get (to State) anyway. When you get there, everyone’s there to do one thing and run that.
“It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but, you can’t go in thinking it’s a huge race,” Garrison said. “You just have to think it’s a race. Every race is the same, just with different people. It’s taken me a lot to learn that. I’ve always had a problem with nerves and getting to myself in my head.
“It’s just something that I’ve overcome and I’ve had a lot of help from my coaching staff and my teammates and friends,” Garrison said. “You just have to go in confident and believing in yourself; just tell yourself, ‘this is another race.’ You have to do what you have to do. Everyone is here for the same reason. There’s nothing to be stressed out about.
“My goal is to finish on the podium this year,” Garrison said. “I’d love to finish All-State and I think that would be a great way to end my career at Washington Court House. I’m going to miss it here. This is home; it’s always been home. I’ve always ran here on this track. I’ve left a few things here, a few records, so, I’m happy with that.”
“My family, for one,” Garrison said. “They are amazing and supportive. They are the ones who come out and support me. They’ve put in probably the same amount of work I have with taking me places, being supportive and getting me what I need. Just everything. They are everything and beyond. I couldn’t be more thankful for them.
“The coaching staff is amazing,” Garrison said. “Coach (Taylor) Alsop, Coach (Colt) Harrington, Coach (Louis) Reid and Coach (Tim) Walters. Coach Walters helped me out a lot this year. He’s helped me with my confidence, which I was lacking a lot last year. He’s helped me learn to be confident in myself.
“And my teammates and friends,” Garrison said. “They’re always there supporting me, too. I think I have a really good connection with all of my teammates and that’s what helps me to get things done here. It makes it enjoyable to be around people who love doing the same thing you do.”