With a year of experience under her belt, Greenon High School junior Delaney Benedict is ready to make a run at a state championship.
Last season, Benedict was runner-up in the 400 meters at the Division II state track and field meet in a time of 55.92 seconds, finishing right behind champion Ke’Aijhan Strong, a junior from Tuslaw who finished in 55.78.
“It was crazy,” Benedict said. “It was such a great experience for me. It showed me all the hard work pays off and you can have some really good outcomes.”
Benedict was nervous heading into both the regional and state meets last year. The atmosphere at Jesse Owens Stadium can also be intimidating, she said.
“It was a such a big meet,” Benedict said. “Now that I’ve done it before, I understand the environment. I can handle the pressure a lot better now.”
Of the nine girls who competed in the state finals, seven were underclassmen. Benedict also won the D-II regional championship in the 400 in 57.56. She knows she’ll have a target on her back, but she plans to focus on reaching her own personal goals each week.
“In order for me to get to state again and possibly win it, I just need to focus on myself, my run and how I do it,” Benedict said.
The Knights graduated a lot of talent, meaning the squad will be very young, said coach Greg Fenwick. Freshman Hallie Gilley will be one of the team’s top sprinters.
“It’s a building year for us looking forward,” he said. “We’ve got some kids who will do some big things and we have some kids will do big things for us in the future. We’re building this year.”
The Knights are set to open their season Saturday at the Tecumseh Invitational.
In two seasons, Benedict has already set new Greenon girls track records in the 100 (12.38), 200 (25.54) and the 400 (55.69). She also set a new Clark County meet record last year of 57.85, beating the former record of 58.73 set by Kenton Ridge’s Jamari McDavid in 2016.
Benedict expects to run the 200, 400 and 800 throughout the season, but the 400 is her main focus, Benedict said.
“The 800 is something we’re going to try and see how it goes for me,” she said, “because one lap is enough.”
Those events will help her prepare for the state meet, Fenwick said.
“She does a lot of 800 training for the 400,” he said.
Benedict also plays soccer and basketball, but said track and field is what she wants to focus on beyond high school.
“I can definitely see myself running track in college,” she said.