HYDE PARK – They have been to Columbus twice in the last month with a trip to the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., in between.
Early in the season, the Withrow High School girls track team competed at the University of Florida.
The Lady Tigers get around the oval and around the map like an orange blaze of glory. They sent departing coach and athletic director Darren Braddix out on top June 6 with the Division I Ohio state team track championship.
Their time at the Nationals June 19-21 was also very productive. Competing with the best of the best, the Lady Tigers took second in the 800 sprint medley at 1:45.73. They were also fifth in the 4×100 with a season-best 46.83 and sixth in the 4×200 at 1:40.39. While finishing 12th in the 1,000 sprint medley Swedish Relay, Withrow set a state record of 2:15.
The Lady Tigers did bring home one national title in the 1,600 sprint medley in the Emerging Elite division at 4:11.62.
Individually, Withrow’s Albert Kalala also made the trip and took third in the Emerging Elite boys high jump at 1.97 meters (just under 6’ 5”).
The state title led to a visit from a trio of track athletes now serving in the Ohio legislature. Reps. Denise Driehaus, Alicia Reece and Christie Kuhns stopped by Withrow June 15. They recognized the hard work of the squad and invited them back to the capital for a formal proclamation in front of the state’s top politicians.
“It’s exciting as a delegation to have these young women come up (to Columbus),” Driehaus said. “We get to talk about our districts and the accomplishments of the young women here.”
Reece is a 1989 Withrow graduate who ran track to stay in condition for basketball.
“To stand here with great champions, I’m just very proud of these young ladies,” Reece said. “Let’s get behind young people when they’re doing something positive! These young ladies have done that.”
Senior Ayanna O’Neal was state champion in the 100 meter hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. She was on the championship 4×100 relay with sophomore Doneasha Brewer, senior Destiny Pennington and senior Niyah Carpenter. She also was on the Withrow 4×400 relay that brought home the title with a second-place finish, some six seconds better than any previous race. O’Neal was joined by Pennington, Carpenter and senior Mercedes Smith.
“It was going to come to the last race, we had been talking about that all season long,” Braddix said of the final 4×400. “They went out there and competed and we dropped about 6.5 seconds off of our PR coming in. It was a Disney ending to my career here at Withrow.”
The sophomore Brewer had a busy day taking second in the 200 meters, eighth in the long jump and 100 hurdles, along with being on the winning 4×100 team.
Pennington was part of the winning 4×100 and the second-place 4×200 and 4×400. Mercedes Smith was on the 4×200 and 4×400 that was second and freshman J’Aliyea Smith was also on the second-place 4×200 team. Simone Mason and Tia Roberts served as relay reserves.
“Everybody had two or three races on that day, some had four races,” said Braddix, new Colerain High School athletic director. “They knew that it was a state championship and they could rest later.”
During the season, the Withrow girls won the Taft Downtown Go Around meet, the La Salle Larosa’s Classic, the Eastern Cincinnati Conference Championship, Division I regional championship in Dayton along with sharing the Division I state title.