Track and Field: Dayton Christian girls loaded for run at regional title

DAYTON – Crossing the finish line first is the objective, of course. But Dayton Christian High School track and field standout Aliisa James has a bigger goal.

“Just to have fun,” James said during the Division III district track and field championships at Northmont High School last Saturday. “It’s fun and it’s a family. It’s not just an individual sport.”

Consider it a Warriors’ reunion at the D-III regional championships on Wednesday and Friday at Troy High School. Dayton Christian won eight events and qualified in 13 overall during its district championship run. Boosted by three relay victories the Warriors qualified 15 different athletes to the girls regional meet.

James and freshman Meela Seaquist both qualified in four events. James won the 300-meter hurdles, finished second in the long jump, third in the 100 hurdles and was on the winning 1,600 relay. Seaquist won the 100 and 200 dashes and was on the winning 400 and 800 relays.

“We’ve been having a lot harder practices the last week so I did expect to be better. But I didn’t expect to PR in almost all of my events,” Seaquist said.

“I’ve always kind of struggled about confidence. But now that I know I got first, I feel kind of confident but I’m not sure if I’ll make it to state or not. … I’ve always been pretty fast and people have always told me that. This is one of those things I excel in. And I just like winning.”

Also winning district titles Saturday were freshman Aurora Schubert in the 100 hurdles and senior Brianna Blake in the 800 run.

Schubert, freshman Katie Welker, sophomore Hailey Jankord and Seaquist were on the 400 relay team.

Welker, freshman Evie Lloyd, junior Alena Seaquist and Meela Seaquist comprised the winning 800 relay team.

The foursome of freshman Isabella Ferriman, senior Nylah Clements, Blake and James made up the winning 1,600 relay.

Also qualifying for regional was junior Taylor Ullrich in the high jump (second), Ferriman and Olivia Blake in the 1,600 run (third and fourth, respectively), junior Sophie Poindexter in the 400 (fourth) and the 3,200 relay of junior Olivia Blake, senior Jenna Schupert, Ferriman and junior Kylie Towle (second).

“I think the team atmosphere and the way we all support each other is something that makes me look forward to coming to track every day,” Brianna Blake said.

Blake, though, had additional motivation for pushing herself in practice Her mother, Melissa, held Dayton Christian’s 800-meter record of 2:25 since the late 1990s. Brianna surged past it recently with a 2:21.

“It’s something I feel connected to her with. It’s exciting to try and beat her time,” Blake said.

“I was not super competitive as a freshman. I just went out and ran for the fun of it. … I think you begin to appreciate it as something you enjoy and you’re grateful for. You want to start performing better and give it your best.”

Ullrich also set a school record this season by clearing 5-4 in the high jump.

The top four finishers in each event at regional qualify for the state track and field championships on June 4-5. The state championships will be held at three separate locations this season. Division I is at Hillard Darby, D-II is at Pickerington North and D-III is at Westerville North.

James qualified for state in the 300 hurdles in 2019, which is her least favorite event but the one she’s likely best at. James was named the Metro Buckeye Conference girls track athlete of the year. Her father, Barry James, was voted MBC girls track coach of the year.

“When I first got into high school and it moved from 200 (hurdles) to the 300, I said I don’t want to do this. This is going to suck,” said James with a laugh. “It’s going to be really difficult and I’m going to hate it. That first meet I ran – it was painful – but it was also something I succeeded in.

“If I just let it go and tell myself have fun, just enjoy being with your team and giving to my teammates, it helps a lot. I love how close we are. Some of us have been running together since sixth grade. … We’re a family.”

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