The trail to state wasn’t easy. Jackson, who played football when he was younger, was playing football barefoot last summer when he broke his foot. So this season is his first one not disrupted by injury. Vaughan believes Jackson’s peak time, one day, will be under 16 minutes.
“Hopefully this week, and he won’t have to wait till next year to try to break into the 15s, which is a tremendous accomplishment,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan said he has been told that the state course can yield fast times. Jackson is seeded 48th, but he beat 11 of those in front of him at the regional meet. It takes a top-30 finish to be all-state.
“A little while ago, it felt out of reach, and it’s probably not.,” Vaughan said. “Maybe he runs in the 15s, maybe he doesn’t. But Parker’s wired that he’s going to go for it every day. He’s not the type of kid who’s going to say, ‘I’m just happy to be here.’ He wants something to run for.”
The race day begins with the Division III boys meet at 11 a.m. and followed by the girls race at 11:45. The Division II races are boys at 1 p.m. and girls at 1:45. The final race is girls Division I at 3:45.
Boys Division III: West Liberty-Salem finished second at the Troy regional and Cedarville finished fourth.
WLS is at state for the 21st time and is led by Owen Harrison, who placed third at regionals in 16:44.7. The Tigers’ other runners are junior Joey LaRoche, sophomores Troy Bradley and Quentin Rudolph and freshmen Garrett Wallen, Dylan King and Brevin Louden.
Cedarville is at state for the fourth time in five years and led by senior Caleb Sultan, who was second at regionals in 16:25.6. The rest of the Indians are senior Ben Ormsbee, juniors Isaac Wallis (eighth at regionals) and Jack Baise, sophomores Josh Sultan and Joshua Wallace and freshman Stewart Kroh.
Emmanuel Christian junior Caleb Baggett (ninth at regionals) and Mechanicsburg junior Will Negley (11th at Pickerington North regional) will compete as individuals.
Girls Division III: West Liberty-Salem is back at state for the 12th time, all since 2000. The Tigers were fifth last year and return juniors Ashley Yoder (sixth at regionals), Addison McAuley Taylor Kennedy and Claire Longshore. They are joined by freshmen Breece Gullett (15th at regionals), Gwen McCullough and Malia Miller (seventh at regionals). The Tigers were second at regionals by one point behind Fort Loramie.
Mechanicsburg freshman Isabelle Rodgers qualified with a 19th-place finish at the Pickerington North regional.
Boys Division II: Shawnee sophomore Gregory Lange made it to state with a 13th-place finish at Troy in 16:52.9.