Hitting Her Stride: Aliisa James Moves On To State
The path to the State track meet in Columbus was a bit bumpy, but Sophomore Aliisa James will be competing in the Division III State Track & Field Championships on Friday morning, May 3. James placed fifth at the OHSAA Regionals last week.
Not A Walk In The Park
The bumpy ride began at last week’s meet when an error in the hurdle set-up in the preliminary race caused a problem. The last set of hurdles were set up one peg higher than regulations allow. One competitor tripped over the last hurdle and immediately informed the judges of the problem. So, even though Aliisa ran her best time of the year in the run and would have automatically qualified for finals, officials scratched the race and declared that that every girl would move on to finals.
At the finals, Aliisa ran in a heat where she was the fastest competitor, giving her a disadvantage by not being able to push herself by running with the fastest girls.
“The day of finals, I was beyond nervous,” said James. “This race was the race that decided if my season was over.
“I ran the best race I had all year, and it counted this time, but I had gotten fifth. You have to finish in the top four spots in order to move on to State, so I thought my season was over.”
“I remember thinking, ‘If only I had done better, run faster, leaned in more at the finish line,” said James.
A Surprise Ending
But James went home that evening, proud to have stood on the podium at Regionals, but sad to see her season end.
The next morning, everything changed. A competitor contacted her to congratulate her on making it to State.
As it turned out, Jessie Owens stadium at Ohio State has nine lines instead of the usual eight. OHSAA selected four girls from each region, but also added the next two girls with the fastest times from all of the Regionals meets – and Aliisa was one of them.
Going to State – and as a sophomore at that – is a dream come true for James. Aliisa started running hurdles in 6th grade during her first year of track, although they intimidated her. She decided she wanted to learn how to do them properly and has been training ever since. She hopes to return to the State meet in her two remaining years in high school and aspires to run track & field in college.
Giving God the Glory
However, James is quick to acknowledge that God deserves the honor for her running.
“The most important part of all this is that God gave me a second chance. He knew I had more fight in me, and I do believe that is why I get to move on and redeem myself. I don’t want the glory because God deserves all of it.”
James pointed out that the verse that she clings to is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
Preliminaries of the 300m hurdles begin at 11:20 am at Jessie Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University. The top two finishers in each heat plus the next five best times will advance to the finals on Saturday.
Congratulations, Aliisa, on your trip to the State! The DC family is proud of you and will be praying for you!