May 22, 2023 -- Monticello Middle School 7th grader Jayda Davis seems like any other girl her age as she warms up before a race. She nervously listens to music on her headphones and chews gum to calm down, stretching and jogging while eyeing up the mostly 8th grade competition around her.
But once the starting gun goes off, “I just let everything go.” That’s when Jayda does what Jayda does best: run. And run fast.
At the 7th and 8th Grade Track and Field State Championships, Davis claimed victory in the 800-meter run on May 14, with a time of 2:21.12, after winning the Indoor State Championship in the same event back in March. Ranked third in the state before the race began, Jayda led from start to finish, knocking five seconds off her previous personal record.
“Her skill set is unique,” said Heights High’s Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Scott McNulty. “She has the turnover speed of a true quarter (400-meter sprinter) and the aerobic capacity of a distance runner. Plus the work ethic and desire to win.”
Davis has the rankings to back it up. As one of only two 7th graders on the podium for the State Championship, Jayda is ranked 10th in the nation among middle schoolers overall in the 800 and 2nd among girls in her grade. But she doesn’t just want to beat runners her own age; her goal for next year is to break Heights High’s record for the 800-meter run, set by high schooler Katrena Carr in 1998.
Coach McNulty believes she can do it. “Jayda embodies a legacy of excellence among Heights runners, both athletically and academically,” he said of the honor roll student, also mentioning current runner Jane Mueller and recent graduates Alaysia Brooks, Marius Coleman, Braedan Gallagher, and Azaria Thomas, who are all excelling as college runners.
“Jayda shows us the best of what’s at Heights.”