Springfield High School track coach Michael Davis called this a “redemption season” for senior thrower Jayden McKinster, who will compete at the Division I state track meet this week for the first time.
“It’s been an unbelievable season,” Davis said. “Last year, he started off the season at the first track meet and threw 150 feet. We were really excited, and he never really got better for whatever reason. Different things were going on, and he didn’t even get out of districts last year and he was expected to win it.”
It’s been a different story in 2023. McKinster threw the discus 187 feet, 2 inches last week during the regional meet at Wayne High School. That’s the best distance of the 18 state qualifiers. That event starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
McKinster first will compete in the shot put at noon Saturday. He threw 53-8½ last week.
“I’m not very nervous about it because we went to state two years in a row in football in a bigger stadium,” said McKinster, who has committed to Wittenberg as a thrower, “and I’m kind of used to the attention.”
In addition to McKinster, Springfield’s 4x200-meter relay team qualified for state. The group includes senior Shawn Thigpen and juniors Aaron Scott, Da’Shawn Martin and Tyrone Myers. The 4x100 relay team will also compete. The team includes Scott, Martin, senior Tyron Barnes and junior Jayvin Norman. Martin will compete in the long jump as well.
On the girls side, junior Tahjaie Clark-Crowley will compete in the discus.
The 5-foot-8, 210-pound McKinster built his strength through powerlifting, which he started as a freshman.
“They kept trying to get him in it, and they finally talked him into it,” Davis said. “He is a workaholic, so once he got in the weight room, he loved it. He started seeing the gains from bench press squats and deadlifts. He’s just highly motivated. He’s a strong kid. He can benchpress close to 400 pounds. He deadlifts close to 600. The numbers are crazy. He does powerlifting in the winter. He also does indoor track at the same time. He’s really worked his on craft.”
McKinster threw the discus 171 feet early this season, shattering his personal best.
“That really changed my whole look on the season because it wasn’t really expected,” McKinster said.
McKinster later increased his best throw to 196-7, winning the Greater Western Ohio Conference championship with that distance and beating the second-place thrower by 26 inches. He won the district championship in Troy by 14 inches with a toss of 186-3. He won the regional championship by 12 inches.
The winning throw at the state meet last year was 172-4. Davis prepares all the athletes for the state meeting by sending them to big meets all season.
“I revamped our whole schedule so we would pretty much see the talent from across the state during our season,” he said. “Once we did that, kids were used to the competition. I try to make practices really hard. They’re track-meet related as far as the stress. We’ll do a lot of stressful stuff in practice, mentally and physically, so when the kids get to this point, they’re not shell shocked.”
In addition to the Springfield athletes, here’s a list of other area athletes who will compete this week in Columbus:
Greeneview: Landon Erisman (4x800); Archer Holston (4x800); Josiah Knoerr (4x800): and Noah Sylvester (4x800).
Northeastern: Brady Gilliam (discus).
Shawnee: Logan Collier (400); Darian Dixon (discus and shot put); and Leroy Page (long jump).
Urbana: Xavier Williams (100).
Cedarville: Dylan Cook (4x400); Drew Koning (4x800 and 4x400; Ben Ormsbee (4x800); Jackson Pyles (4x400); Caleb Sultan (4x800, 800 and 4x400); and Isaac Wallis (4x800).
Emmanuel Christian Academy: Jo Assen (discus).
Mechanicsburg: Kailen Butler (100 and 200); and Will Negley (1600).
West Liberty-Salem: Owen Harrison )4x800 and 3,200); Asher Knox (4x800 and 3200); Logan Phillips (110 hurdles); Quentin Rudolph (4x800); and Micah Smith (4x800).
Yellow Springs: Malcolm Blunt (200 and long jump).
Greenon: Tru Buddenberg (pole vault).
Graham: Taylor Aldredge (high jump).
Urbana: Lyza Forson (shot put).
Mechanicsburg: Taylor Miller (4x400); Clair Rodgers (4x400); Isabelle Rodgers (4x400); and Olivia Skillings (4x400).
Triad: Cayla Eaton (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles).
West Liberty-Salem: Mallory Bostick (4x800); Teagan Boyd (4x800); Breece Gullett (4x800); and Ashley Yoder (4x800).