Grace Jackson

Cle Elum-Roslyn High School’s Grace Jackson jumps over the hurdle in a track meet this season.

School and personal records are all that have been on Grace Jackson’s mind. But of course, some state titles, too.

“It would be really cool if I actually was a state champion this year — that’d be a really big goal,” Jackson said. “That would be awesome.”

Jackson, the junior track runner for Cle Elum-Roslyn High School is preparing for the biggest stage of the season with sub-districts on May 9 and then districts on May 17 before the state tournament a week later.

In six school meets so far this season, competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 300-meter hurdles and long jump, she’s placed first in 14 events and three in the top five.

“She’s a superstar,” said track and field head coach Tony Butorac. “She’s super humble, she’s a hard worker, she’s driven, she wants to be the best. She’s just a pleasure to have around.”

Jackson has qualified for state as a freshman and sophomore, competing in the 4x100 meter relay, 4x200 meter relay, 200-meter and 300-meter hurdles. In all four events the past two years, she’s earned some hardware.

While Butorac says Jackson’s times have dipped a tad this year — and that can be due to the delay in the season from the inclement weather and also the head winds the athletes have endured at the meets — she still brings a relentless work ethic.

“She works hard,” Butorac said. “She sees her numbers not quite where they were last year, and so she starts trying to figure out why her numbers aren’t there. And so, she’ll just do more work, just to increase her endurance because she thinks that’s what it is, all on her own without even being told to do that.”

Jackson even approaches the state meets with a certain strategy.

“She’s consistently trying to figure out what event she’s going to have the most success in at the state meet,” Butorac said. “Like 300-meter hurdles, she realized there’s a girl from Seattle Academy who’s running an incredible 100-meter, so she decides, ‘well, I’m not going to beat her, so I’m going to go to the 300-meter hurdles.’”

Jackson is eyeing the 100-meter school record (12.60) that’s been held by Lila Bennett since 1980. Jackson set her own personal mark in the 100 on April 20 in the CLA Invite with a time of 12.70. She did beat Bennett’s 200-meter record in the 2018 state tournament, running a 25.69.

Jackson also has the school record in the 300-meter hurdles (46.10), 4x100-meter relay (50.1) and 4x200-meter relay (1:44.46).

She hasn’t participated in the 100-meter hurdles yet, but Butorac knows she will break that as well.

“She just has these goals, so far they’ve been attainable and it’s exciting,” he said.

THREE-SPORT ATHLETE

Along with track, Jackson also plays basketball and soccer. She’s a prolific striker for the Warriors and has already verbally committed to play soccer at Central Washington University.

She’s been part of track since the seventh grade and likes the individual aspect.

“I just really like bettering myself and it’s kind of fun not doing a team sport,” Jackson said. “It’s more of an individual sport I can do that’s really fun.”

PREPPING FOR STATE

League meets and invites don’t do much other than give schools rankings during the season, so Butorac wants to give his team as much rest to be prepared for the final weeks.

At sub-districts, which only has the teams from the South Central Athletic Conference West (Cle Elum-Roslyn, Goldendale, Granger, Highland, La Salle, Naches Valley and Zillah), the top four in lane events, top eight in non-lane events and field events qualify for districts.

Then at districts, combined with the SCAC East (College Place, Connell, Kiona-Benton, River View, Royal, Wahluke and Warden), the top four in each event earn a bid to state.

“You want to peak at the right time,” Butorac said.

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