When Lauren Jolly, started the track season this year, she wasn’t expecting to make it all the way to the first OHSAA-sponsored Junior High track meet.
“I wasn’t expecting to go to state, but I was hoping that I would have a better season,” Jolly said.
Jolly, an eighth-grader from Wheelersburg, ran in the 100-meter hurdles and the 200-meter hurdles.
“Obviously, with hurdles, it’s always nervous for a mom, hoping they clear the hurdles and don’t fall. Which, you know makes it a little more nerve wracking from a regular running event. So it was definitely a unique event because of that,” Lauren’s mom, Maria Jolly said.
The state meet was the first of its kind for the junior high level. The top 16 in each event were invited to the meet. In order to qualify, the participants had to participate in several meets where the times were taken by Fully Automatic Timing, which is much more accurate than hand timing.
“I think that the unique thing about this event is that it is all school divisions combined. They didn’t divide it up into division one, division two, they just took the top 16 times in the state and had them do this inaugural event, which was really cool,” Maria Jolly said.
When Jolly found out that she had made it to state, she knew that she had to keep pushing herself to get better.
“It was hard. The girls there were really good and I knew that but I had to just keep working at it. I knew that I may not have been first or second but it was good just getting there,” Jolly said.
At the state meet, Lauren finished in fifth place in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the 200 hurdles. In the process, she beat her personal record for the 200 hurdles at the state meet with a time of 30.55 seconds.
Jolly’s team had success this season, as the Wheelersburg Middle School program won all of the invitationals that they competed in, including the SOC crown. Jolly’s coach, Tom Kaskey, believes that is what sparked Lauren to push herself to do even better.
“Lauren is a very hard worker,” Kaskey said. “She is a silent leader of the group. She doesn’t say much, but when she does, it’s important.”
Jolly was thankful for the support of her teammates, especially Justus Steward who also qualified for the state meet in discus.
“I didn’t know anyone, so having Justus there was a good like refresher that she was there to help me out and support me,” Jolly said.
After her success over the balance of the 2017 season, Jolly is looking forward to competing for a state tournament slot at the high school level.
“I know that I’m going to be a freshman,” Jolly said, “and I know there will be seniors and other grades above me, pushing me to make me better.”