Records are made to be broken. However, it’s more rare to witness a pair of teammates become the new standard bearers in the same year.
Fortunately for the Portsmouth Junior High Track program, teammates and best friends Jaiden Rickett and Katie Davis rewrote the history books — together.
Rickett didn’t wait long to set her bench mark. During the first meet of the 2016 season, Rickett threw a shot put 35-1, which shattered the old mark of 33-6, set in 1995 by Christine Maxie.
‘To break a record is an awesome feeling,” Rickett said. “A very proud moment because you have all these people happy for you and congratulating you and you just have this little spot that feels so proud and excited for yourself. But it takes a lot of hard work.”
For Davis, her approach was more methodical. After beginning her career as a sprinter and switching to the 800-meeter and mile events toward the end of her seventh-grade year, Davis was forced to play catch up.
However, after running a 6 minute, 42 second mile on March 30, Davis cut her time by 28 seconds and set a new school record on May 2, the second to last meet of the season, when she posted a 6:14.75 mile. Davis broke Anne Marie Raise’s record of 6:15.25.
“I feel very accomplished and proud of myself for breaking the record,” Davis said. “I knew if I didn’t break the record, then I would be very disappointed in myself. I felt as if I would also be disappointing the people that were pushing me so hard to beat it. It was very important to me to push my self all season just for the record.”
While both girls compete in different events, their lasting bond pushes them to new heights. The Portsmouth junior-high coach Jason Van Deusen described the girls as “peanut butter and jelly” because of their unshakeable relationship.
“Katie and I have a very strong bond,” Rickett said. “She always helps me and always motivates me. Some days we wouldn’t have track practice, but you would still see Katie running and me throwing. I felt that I tried to help Katie as much as I could by motivating her. I’m very thankful to have such a good friend who I can always count on to help me.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Davis.
“Jaiden and I are best friends,” Davis said. “When we wouldn’t have scheduled practice, she and I would still go down to the track together and practice.”
The motivation the girls provided for one another is undeniable.
“(Rickett and Davis) run together at the end of practice and push each other,” Van Deusen said.
According to Van Deusen, Rickett’s workout regimen isn’t typical for someone who participates in shot put. Rickett often used the high school shot puts in practice, which are heavier than the junior high shot puts. She also ran a mile after practice every day, which is unusual for competitors in her field.
“She worked with a heavier shot put, so when she threw the six-pound shot at the junior-high meets, it was lighter than what she had been working with,” Van Deusen said.
“She also runs close to a mile everyday, which a lot of throwers —whether discus or shot put — do not do. They just get out, get some throws in and that’s it. But Jaiden wasn’t satisfied with that.”
After witnessing the sacrifice Rickett was making to achieve the record, he was elated when she hit her mark.
“I was so happy for her,” Van Duesen said. “She was really proud of herself. I was really proud of her. Everybody was really proud of her.
“She didn’t brush it off. She was definitely excited but she knew it wasn’t enough. Throughout the year, she wanted to get consistently better and she did that, and that’s the type of kid she is.”
As far as Davis is concerned, her first attempt in the 800 meter and the mile were successful — she placed in both as a seventh grader.
“I think that kind of got her going and got her motivated,” Van Deusen said. “She started out this year, setting good times while trying to learn how to run a mile. Instead of just going out and running it, there’s a little bit of a game to it.”
Once Davis was identified as a natural talent, Portsmouth High School’s cross country coach Corey Culberson began helping Davis by creating a workout regimen for her to follow everyday. She also practiced with the high school distance runners.
“It really showed her ability to take some advice from people that knew what they were talking about and no pun intended — run with it,” Van Duesen said. “She did a great job of really working hard and practicing, and doing everything she could to improve that time.”
During the Fairland meet, there were four individuals stationed around the track to provide real time updates to Davis, so she could keep track of her recording-breaking pace.
“It was really exciting,” Van Duesen said. “It made a really wet, cold track meet worth the drive.
“We had to wait a little long to get her results because the computer system messed up, and everybody was on pins and needles. But as soon as the results came through, it was pure celebration.”
Rickett and Davis both realize the time and effort required to rewrite history.
“It shows that you’re willing to put in the work to get what you want in the end,” Rickett said. “You have to have a lot of self-motivation and believe in yourself.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.
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