Sometimes, you just can’t beat speed.
While there are any number of attributes that can aid an athlete in track and field, sheer speed is something that can be both stunning and beautiful to watch and is as much a gift rather than something that is learned.
For a pair of West Holmes Knights, the need for speed put them in a very nice place Saturday, May 22 at the Div. II district final meet at West Holmes High School.
Lady Knight Taylor Yerian and Knights junior Brayden Chaney showed off some sizzling speed that helped them secure three regional spots apiece.
Chaney was simply unbelievable in his three events. He kick-started his day by simply blowing away the field in the 400, where his time of 49.54 was eons ahead of runner-up Trevor Ault’s time of 51.44.
The 200 proved to be no more of a challenge with Chaney speeding to victory in 22.57, well ahead of Minerva’s Jason Williams’s time of 23.08.
Then to cap off his day, Chaney anchored the boys 4×400 team of Jonathan Kandel, Grant Hay and Michael Taylor. He came storming from back in the pack and helped West Holmes pass Carrollton around the final turn to earn the team a fourth-place finish and a regional berth.
“I don’t think Brayden realizes just how good he can be yet,” West Holmes coach Ty Harris said. “He has amazing closing speed, and his running style is so perfect.”
For Yerian, who qualified for state as a freshman in the school’s relay team as well as the 300-meter hurdles, her career continued for at least another week, thanks to her ability to go fast. However, she added the element of leaping to her running routine in all three of her events.
“She’s put a lot of hard work into this sport over the years, and it is paying off,” Harris said.
Yerian qualified for the finals in the long jump, then before the finals ran the 100-meter hurdles, a fairly new endeavor for her. Against a quality field, she ran a 16.43 to place third. She then went back to the long jump, where she flew to a 15-08.25, good enough to grab a fourth-place finish and advance to regionals. She will be joined by teammate Kaylin Martin. The sensational freshman soared to 16-00.25, finishing behind only Sandy Valley’s Hailey Sciury’s effort of 16-08.25.
That left only her final event of the day, which just happens to be her best. The 300-meter hurdles were all Yerian as she burst out of the blocks, took a lead and never looked back in putting together a winning time of 46.32. Carrollton’s Cindy Lewis placed second in 46.91 and never really threatened Yerian’s top spot.
“Simply an honor,” Yerian said of moving on in all three events. “I knew I had to get out in front early in the 300 and make people chase me. I ran a 49 (second) race on Thursday in qualifying, and I knew that was not where I needed to be. Strong headwinds had a lot to do with that, but I wanted to put together a much better time today in the finals. Once I got the big lead, I just focused on not hitting any hurdles.”
In the past three seasons a 46-flat has been where the podium qualifiers have resided, so Yerian knows her times are good, but she also knows she has to trim a little bit off to reach her ultimate goal of a state podium spot.
“This is my last time,” Yerian said. “I have been so blessed with my support system over the years.”
When asked what her career has meant to her and what has been instrumental in driving her to succeed, she said, “My family, my teammates and coaches. I have had the best help and support in the world. This isn’t something that a lot of people get to experience. I don’t know how else to explain it. It has been a wonderful journey, and I am absolutely grateful for every opportunity to compete.”
The 300-meter hurdle win marks the fourth straight time Yerian has captured a district championship in that event, another rarity for any athlete.
“I’m very proud of that accomplishment,” Yerian said.
The Lady Knights senior continues a long series of excellent Lady Knights sprinters, and while nothing is a given, she will have at the very least one more week to show everyone in the track and field world what has made her so successful.
And together, Yerian and Chaney will show just how far sheer speed can take an athlete on their path to what they hope is a berth at state.