Griffin grabs bronze at state
Janell Griffin was determined to leave the NCHSAA 3-A state track meet with a medal and she did not return home disappointed as the Washington senior blazed through the competition to pick up a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles, while Markel Spencer, her upstart freshman teammate, placed 10th in the 100-meter dash.
Though several medals where handed out at N.C. A&T University during the meet it’s hard to imagine any recipients appreciated theirs as much as Griffin. As a junior, Griffin made it all the way to the state meet in the 100-meter hurdles only to see he dream of medaling come crashing down as she tumbled over a hurdle near the end of her preliminary race. This time around there would be none of that. Griffin sailed through the prelims to make it into the finals where she found an extra gear late in the race to bolt into third place with a time of 15.46.
“She just barley edged out the fourth-place competitor. I mean I think we’re talking about five-one-hundredths of a second, ” Washington track and field coach Jon Blank said. “It was close. She had a strong finish. She was in like fifth or sixth place with about 15 meters to go and she just really turned it on and fought to the finish line.”
For Griffin, bringing home a bronze puts a nice finishing touch on the Pam Pack star’s stellar four-year career.
“She was very excited. Our whole goal was to leave that meet with a medal for her,” Blank said. “When she came across in third and saw her name on the scoreboard she was very excited about it.”
Blank knew Griffin had the potential to medal at the meet but said the key for her was that she was able to overcome her nervousness and stay focused.
“She did good. She was calm. She thought about how last year her foot was shaking in the starting block,” Blank said. “But, this year she was calm and relaxed and she was confident. She just went out an ran aggressively and everything turned out good for her.”
After getting tripped up in the prelims last season, both blank and Griffin felt they cleared a major hurdle once she was able to complete the prelims this year.
“Absolutely. There was a moment where it was close whether she was going to make the finals or not but as soon as we found out she made the finals it was like a breathe of fresh air,” Blank said. “She knew she had a chance then. She knew that all she had to do was go out and be aggressive at the finals. She had nothing to lose at that point. She knew if she could get to the finals she could compete. … I was so happy to see her get that medal, she has worked so hard over the last four years.”
While Griffin ended her Pack track career in style, Spencer began his with flair. Though he struggled to adjust to the harder, synthetic surface of the college course, Spencer adjusted to the big stage and ran an 11.21 in the 100-meter dash to place 10th in the state.
“He was surprisingly very relaxed,” Blank said. “I think when he first got there he saw that it was kind of a big stage. There was the big scoreboard that his name was going to be on, a big stand and lots of schools there he had never heard of before. I think at first he might have been a little overwhelmed but once we started warming up he realized it’s just 100 meters and you are running against the same type of kids you have been running against all year. He got relaxed and he was fine.”
Despite being a newcomer, Spencer refused to yield to the elder athletes.
“He had the mindset of going in and trying to win this thing and I love that competitiveness,” Blank said. “That’s just something he has done all year. He has a very strong will to win and he showed a lot of maturity all year. He came out with the perfect mindset. I think this year for him was just more of an experience but he did a great job.”