LaGrange track standouts sign
Published 12:07 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
She knew she had one more chance, one final opportunity to be a state champion.
As Jada Grant prepared for her final attempt in the long-jump competition in the Class AAAA state meet in Albany, she was in second place.
Grant, who earlier in the day finished second in the triple jump by half an inch, stared down the runway, focused on what she had to do.
“The girl before me had just passed my jump,” Grant said. “I wasn’t going to get beat again. I couldn’t let that happen. So I had to calm down, not stress about it, and just give it my all, and it happened.”
Grant came through with a jump of 18 feet, 9.5 inches, and that gave her a state championship she’s waited a long time for.
Grant has been one of the state’s best jumpers since her freshman season, and she’d placed at state on multiple occasions.
Now, Grant has a gold medal to go with the seven other medals she has won during her four seasons as an elite jumper and sprinter.
Another senior, Renaya Edmondson, also made her final state meet a memorable one when she finished sixth in the discus.
Edmondson and Grant will now try to conquer a new arena.
During a ceremony in the LaGrange High media center this week, Grant and Edmondson both signed their letters of intent to compete in track and field in college.
Grant signed with Mississippi State, and Edmondson has signed with Albany State.
While most of Grant’s success has come in the jumping events, she’s also an exceptional sprinter.
Grant finished seventh in the 100-meter dash at state, and she was also a member of the 400-meter relay team that placed seventh.
In the jumping events, Grant came within an inch of winning two gold medals.
First up for Grant was the triple jump, and she came agonizingly close to earning the top spot on the podium.
Grant’s best jump was 38 feet, one inch, and that left her a half-inch behind Qua’Neshia Hamilton of Burke County.
It was a tough moment for Grant, but with the long jump still to come, she knew she couldn’t dwell on what happened in the triple jump.
“My heart dropped,” Grant said. “I wanted to cry really bad, shed a few tears, but I had to maintain, because I had another event. I had to get it together and re-focus.”
Grant shrugged off that disappointment and made it happen in the long jump, finishing one inch ahead of Jania Hodges of Sandy Creek.
Considering how much success she’s enjoyed in high school, Grant predictably had plenty of options when it came time to choose a college, and she believes Mississippi State is the right place.
“It felt like home,” Grant said. “The team is like a family. They get along really well, and they work together, they make each other better. It just felt like a good fit for me.”
Grant will be competing alongside of and against some of the country’s best college jumpers, and she’s ready for the challenge.
“I know it’s going to be a lot to deal with it,” Grant said. “It’s going to be harder, but I’m ready.”
Edmondson had a throw of 112 feet, five inches to earn a sixth-place finish in the discus at the state meet in Albany.
Edmondson said she has done a lot of work by herself to become an accomplished discus thrower, which makes her state showing that much more satisfying.
“To be able to teach myself what to do, and not to do, and finish sixth, it means a lot,” Edmondson said.
As far as choosing Albany State, Edmondson said “I always wanted to go to an
HBCU (historically black college or university). I just felt like it’s more me.”
Another LaGrange senior, Annaya Chelcy, has signed with West Alabama.
Chelcy finished seventh in the 200-meter dash, and she was a member of the 400-meter relay team that placed seventh.
Another senior, Zakeria Staples, competed in the 300-meter hurdles at state, and she was also on the 400-meter relay team.
Senior WaWa Benn made it to the state sectional in the 100-meter hurdles.
The other seniors are Mashya Nunn and Shanteria Kelly.
Grant is happy to see some of her teammates also get the chance to compete in college.
“We’ve all workd so hard for this, and I’m glad we get to continue to do what we love,” Grant said.