Shawnee’s Mitchem facing new hurdles after injury

It’s not quite the same as soaring a dozen feet into the air. But Shawnee High School junior Jace Mitchem has found a suitable alternative – and adrenaline rush – to pole vaulting while she recovers from a wrist injury.

The hurdles.

Mitchem, who started hurdling about a month ago, won the 300-meter hurdles in a personal-best 50.80 seconds at Cedarville’s Impson Invitational on Saturday. She also finished third in the 100 hurdles.

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“I’m new to hurdles so my only goal is to get over them without falling,” Mitchem said. “I really like it. I like jumping over things. I like a little bit of danger being involved.”

Mitchem tore ligaments in her wrist the day before the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCC) indoor state meet held on March 3. She’s undergoing therapy and hopes to be vaulting in time for the Division II district meet in mid-May.

As for the hurdles, she was at practice a few weeks ago waiting on her pole vault coach to arrive when Mitchem saw teammates practicing the hurdles. That’s all it took.

“I just joined in with them, so (my coaches) hooked me for hurdles,” Mitchem said. “I miss pole vaulting. But I started picking up other events to help the team out.”

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Said Shawnee coach Mike Garberich: “She’s a natural athlete. … She started doing the hurdles at practice and we talked to her about it. She kept getting more and more comfortable with it.”

Mitchem also won the long jump in 14-09.5, helping the Braves win eight events Saturday.

Teammate Robie Glass won three with victories in the 200 (22.02), 400 (48.98) and the high jump (6-4). He was also second in the 100 (11.21), trailing Belmont’s Herman Chongwain’s 10.99. His time in the 400 was a personal best in that event, though he did run a sub-48 second 400 during his leg of a 1,600 relay.

For comparison, the winning time in the D-II state meet last season was 47.50.

“He’s getting real close to that,” Garberich said. “His goal is to be on the state podium multiple times this year. He’s a great kid.”

Olivia Warax and Audrey DeSantis pulled away from the 3,200 field with Warax winning in 11:43.12. DeSantis was 0.11 seconds behind as both Braves finished nearly a minute ahead of third place.

Shawnee’s girls won a pair of relays. The 3,200 relay team with Madi Conley, Ashton Thomas, Olivia Tincher and Tori Malicki won in 11:18.99. The girls 800 relay also won with Alysis Applin, Mikynna Garberich, Ellie Brouhard and Kylee Shafer in 1:55.59.

Shawnee won both teams titles. The girls scored 163 points to top runner-up Stivers’ 100. The boys scored 107 points to outdistance runner-up Washington Court House’s 84.5.

The Braves have carried the momentum of the indoor season into the outdoors. The program had strong indoor state showings with Glass winning the high jump championship (6-4) and finished fourth in the 200 (22.36). DeSantis finished second in the 3,200 (11:17.56) and Warax was fourth (11:25.45). Hannah Schartz was fourth in the high jump (5-2) and Mitchem finished 16th in the long jump (14-10).

Also winning events Saturday:

* Cedarville’s Trey Gruet won the 300 hurdles (40.74). Gruet was also on the winning 1,600 relay with Brandon Pollock, Brice Gruet and Jonathan Allen.

* Southeastern swept the discus with Laney Mills (99-10) and Charlie Bertemes (141-11). Trojans teammate Lily Bertemes won the 800 (2:31.12).

* Northeastern’s Katelyn Dietrich won the pole vault (7-0).

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