The simple parts to the long jump are running and jumping. The challenge is launching off the end of the 19-inch takeoff board at warp speed.
For Meadowdale’s Ja’la Henderson, that’s the difference between resetting her own district record and surpassing the magic 20-foot mark for girls.
“I’ll get it if I can hit the board,” said Henderson, who won four events at Saturday’s high school track and field Division II district at Welcome Stadium. “To be that far off the board and jump that far, I know I have the potential to go way farther.”
Dunbar’s boys won all four relays and received two wins each from its “big dawgs” to win their eighth straight boys district championship, 132-90.5 over runner-up Valley View. For the second consecutive year, Oakwood placed in every event except the 100 meters to win the girls D-II district title, 99-83 over second-place Meadowdale.
In Saturday’s opening D-III district, Twin Valley South swept both the boys and girls team championships.
The top four placers in every event qualify for this week’s regionals, also at Welcome.
Third in her specialty at state last year, Henderson has consistently been over 19 feet in the long jump the last several meets. She reset her own district mark with a leap of 19-0.75. That turned out to be just a warmup for what was to come.
Henderson also swept the 100 meters (12.56), 400 (57.13) and opened a 20-meter lead on the first leg of the winning 4x400 relay (3:59.80).
It was only the second time she’s run an open 400. That’s the kind of multiple effort that should make Meadowdale a contender to defend its state title.
“This means everything,” said Henderson, who signed to run track at the University of Wyoming. “I just want to thank my team for their support. I’m ready to run next week. I want to break the (long jump) record at state.”
• Meadowdale had six girls competing, not enough to contend with Oakwood’s superior depth at this level.
Oakwood sophomore Elizabeth Ordeman was first in the 3,200 (11:25.27), second in the 1,600 and ran on the third-place 4x800 relay.
“It feels really good going into regionals and state,” she said. “I know I can run really tired.”
• Valley View senior Hannah Thomas swept her specialties, the 100 hurdles (15.59) and 300 hurdles (46.09). She also ran on the third-place 4x400 relay.
“I definitely feel like I’m peaking,” said Thomas, who qualified to state last year in both hurdles races. “I’m peaking at the right time for state. I’d like to win.”
She has signed to run at Northern Kentucky.
• Dunbar’s boys moved everyone along to regional, including a few surprises in the first step of defending its state title. Besides the relays sweep, Juan Scott won the 110 high hurdles (14.34) and 300 hurdles (37.91) and Brian Bell was best in the 1,600 (4:20.89) and 800 (1:55.30).
Coach Sidney Booker labels those two seniors his “big dawgs.”
“We know what’s most important for the regional and then going on into the state,” Booker said. “We like to claim (a state title). I used to be real soft and humble about it; no more. I’m claiming it and putting the pressure on them. I’m not running, so I’ll put the pressure on them.”
• Trailing Dixie by one point entering the final 4x400 relay, TV South placed third and Dixie fifth. That was enough to secure TV South’s boys D-III title by the narrowest of margins, 109-108.
Dixie’s Isaiah Pritchard swept the 100 (11.64), 200 (23.62) and the long jump (20-10.25).
Taylor Middleton of Miami Valley matched that effort, winning the girls 100 (12.54), 200 (25.91) and long jump (18-3.75).