Already an established basketball standout with a scholarship to play at the next level, Shai McGruder of Trotwood-Madison High School was game for another challenge.
That would be track and field. And becoming a fast learner doesn’t come close to describing her progress.
“I don’t know why it took so long,” said McGruder, a senior who won the 400 meters (59.48) in the Division I district at Piqua on Friday night. “It’s actually a real cool, fun sport. This year, I was like, I want to try something different.”
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Springfield, super charged by senior standout Quincy Scott and an outstanding supporting cast, won a rare boys team title, 110-92 over runner-up Butler. Troy was at its dominating best to run away with the girls championship, 179-92 over second-place Northmont.
The top four in each event of the two-day meet qualified for next week’s D-I regional at Wayne.
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An All-Ohioan in basketball who’s headed to New Mexico State University, McGruder’s all-around athletic ability and sprint speed was always on display in basketball. That was initially at Wayne and then at Trotwood, where she transferred to for her senior year.
A long-strider at 6 feet 1, she’s capable of going much lower in the 400, especially against top-level regional competition. She also runs the 800 and relays.
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“This means a lot,” she said. “It means all the hard work we put in in practice is really paying off.”
• Springfield already had resurrected its football and boys basketball programs since the North/South merger. Add its boys track program to that progress.
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Springfield hadn’t won a boys district track team title since South did it in 1991. Wildcats coach Mike Davis was a standout on North’s team that also won a 1990 district title.
Courtesy of Scott’s four wins, it was the first meet championship for Springfield this season, although it took a disqualification in the final 4x400 relay to prevent the Wildcats from winning the Clark County championships.
“Our goal the whole season was to win the district, regional or state,” Davis said. “I’m really proud of them.”
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Scott was spectacular, easily winning the 100 (10.85), 200 (21.81) and anchoring the 4x100 relay to another un-pushed win (42.53). He won the long jump (22-11) during Wednesday’s first day of competition.
“We’re here to handle our business,” said Scott, the defending D-I state runner-up in the long jump who’ll compete in track at Tiffin. “It’s like a bond that people don’t understand. We’re all on the same mission.”
• Troy’s girls won eight of 17 events and swept three of the five field events. Sophomore Lenea Browder added a discus title (122-8). She won the shot put (41-8) on Wednesday.
• Northmont junior Leila Hill swept the 100 (15.33) and 300 (45.43) hurdles. Another exceptional performance was by Greenville sophomore Riley Hunt, who cleared 13 feet to win the girls pole vault.
• Centerville extended its D-I boys and girls dominance in the other district meet at Wayne also on Friday.
The Elks boys placed second in the final 4x400 relay to secure a 118.5-115 decision over runner-up Wayne. That was Centerville’s 12th consecutive boys district team title.
The Elks’ girls were just as good, also out-pointing runner-up Wayne 105-88 to win their seventh straight D-I district title.
Like Scott, Wayne junior Zarik Brown accounted for four firsts. He won the 100 (10.77) and 400 (48.96) and also was on the winning 4x100 (42.08) and 4x400 (3:20.01) relays. Beavercreek sophomore Taylor Ewert reset the girls 3200 record by more than six seconds (10:41.87).
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Other double running winners were Wayne junior Justin Harris in the 110 highs (14.08) and 300 hurdles (38.05) and Fairmont senior Hailey Spitler in the 100 (12.23) and 200 (25.28).
• The Divisions II and III district finals were Saturday at Piqua, West Milton and Graham.