LaGrange’s Grant brings home the championship
Published 1:21 pm Friday, May 10, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She’s a champion.
During her first three trips to the state track-and-field meet, LaGrange High’s Jada Grant was a regular on the awards podium.
As she prepared for this year’s state meet, Grant wanted more.
“I can’t wait,” Grant said earlier this week. “I’m looking to win a championship. I really want to win. I feel like everything’s been going good. I’ve been staying consistent.”
Those good feelings were rewarded on Thursday when Grant won the state championship in the long jump.
Grant nearly won the state title in the triple jump as well, with Qua’Neshia Hamilton of Burke County edging her by less than an inch.
Grant now has six state medals, including a shiny gold one that will top off the collection.
Grant isn’t done.
She’s participating in four events in the state finals, including the two jumping events that have been her specialty over the years.
Grant is also running in the 100-meter dash, and she’s a part of the 400-meter relay team.
Before Thursday’s result, Grant’s best finish at state came during her sophomore season when she was fourth in the triple jump, and she was sixth in the long jump that same year.
Grant was sixth in the long jump as a freshman, and she was eighth in the triple jump last season.
On Thursday, Grant won the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 9.5 inches, which was an inch better than second-place finisher Jania Hodges of Sandy Creek.
In the triple jump, Grant’s jump of 38 feet, one inch was a half-inch off the winning distance of Hamilton.
Another senior, Renaya Edmondson, is going out on a high note after finishing sixth in the discus on Thursday.
Last season, Edmondson earned a seventh-place finish in the discus, and she improved on that by one place this year.
At the state sectional last weekend, Edmondson finished second with a career-best throw of 116 feet, six inches. That was seven feet better than her previous best throw.
Edmondson’s best throw on Thursday was 112 feet, five inches, and only five Class AAAA discus throwers were better.
Edmondson, who has committed to Albany State to join the track and field team, has worked hard to perfect her craft.
“Most people think it’s about strength,” Edmondson said. “It helps, but it’s really about technique. If I get that technique down, that’s a big part of how far the discus goes.”
When Grant was a freshman, she was the only member of the girls’ team to compete at state.
This time around, Grant has plenty of teammates to keep her company.
LaGrange is competing in 10 different events in the girls’ meet, and Miller Penn ran in the 3,200-meter run on Thursday night.
“We’ve come a long way,” Grant said. “We started out with just me at state, and now we’ve got everybody.”
LaGrange girls’ coach Chontia Sheffield said the members of the team “hold each other accountable.”
“They support each other,” Sheffield added. “It’s a little sisterhood. They’ve been building since they were freshmen and bringing in the younger ones. Even in middle school, that whole group was together. They’ve been around each other.”
Senior sprinter Annaya Chelcy said “we always challenge each other. That’s a good thing to have in track.”
Chelcy is running at state in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. At the state sectional, Chelcy established a personal record in the 100 with a time of 12.30 seconds, and she nearly duplicated that feat in the 200 when she posted a time of 25.27 seconds.
“That’s the fastest I ever ran (in the 100). I was very happy about that,” Chelcy said. “And I almost beat my (personal record) in the 200. It was a really good day.”
Senior Zakeria Staples is making her third appearance at state, and she’s competing in the 300-meter hurdles after finishing seventh at the state sectional.
Staples is also a member of the 400-meter relay team along with Chelcy, Grant and Quay Robinson.
That group finished second in the state sectional and will be one of the favorites in the state finals.
“I’ve always qualified for 300 hurdles. Making it on the podium would be my main goal,” Staples said. “As long as I make it in the four by one, I can’t complain too much.”
Twin sisters Zamya Rhaney and Zanay Rhaney, who have excelled in track and field and cross country, will compete at state as well.
Zamya Rhaney placed eighth in the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run at the state sectional, and Zanay Rhaney was seventh in the 800-meter run.
The lone state representative for LaGrange’s boys’ team is Miller Penn, who had a strong performance at the state sectional where he finished fourth in the 3,200 with a time of 10:08.
“This season, everything’s starting to come together,” said Penn, who’ll be a standout in cross country this fall. “My racing and my training have coincided. It’s been really nice.”