Until midway through the season, Jashá Patrick hadn’t competed in hurdles since her days running for Parrott Middle School.
On March 13 during a meet at Weeki Wachee, the Hernando High junior ran the 300-meter hurdles for the first time in her prep career, finishing third in 50.87.
Less than two months later, on Friday at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Patrick found herself standing on the award podium adorned with a state medal, having run a 46.52 to take sixth in the Class 2A FHSAA Finals.
“I’ve worked so hard,” Patrick said. “It was a lot of work but I knew I could do it.”
Though new to that particular event, Patrick was no stranger to this stage. As a sophomore, she reached states in the 400, placing 14th in 1:00.35.
She snagged a pair of first-place finishes in that race, at the Weeki Wachee Invitational and Lake Minneola’s Hawks on the Hill Invitational, in 2013. But this year, she only ran the 400 once, at the Hernando/Citrus Championship where she placed third (1:02.84).
At that same meet, she won a county crown in the 100 hurdles, running a personal best of 16.19. She also took first in the 100 hurdles at the March 13 Weeki Wachee meet.
“The hurdles are low and I’m kind of tall, 6-foot,” Patrick said. “Jumping over hurdles isn’t a big problem for me, and if you want something you’re going to work for it.”
Prior to the Class 2A, District 7 Meet at Central on April 11, Patrick made a difficult decision, opting to compete in the 300 hurdles rather than the 400, feeling she had a better chance for advancement in the former.
In districts, she registered a first-place clocking of 47.80, by far her fastest of the year.
She followed with a third-place 46.12 five days later at regionals to assure a return trip to states.
That time seeded her fifth entering Friday, but forecasts for inclement weather proved to be true, forcing a delay and switching the format to timed finals.
Two days earlier, as Hernando hosted a regional baseball quarterfinal at Emerson Field, hurdles sat on the empty track at neighboring Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium.
Those were the remnants of an abbreviated practice by Patrick following Wednesday’s early downpour, specifically so she could run in soggy conditions.
“It helped a lot,” Patrick said. “It prepared me. If I had gone out with no experience on a wet track, I would have busted my head on the track.”
Clearly it paid off for Patrick, who runs track year-round on the AAU level while being trained by Hernando assistant principal Lorenzo Fields.
But a damp running surface wasn’t the only issue to overcome. During the final 100 meters, Patrick believes she may have pulled her hamstring.
“It felt like I extended it too far. But it hurt,” Patrick said.
Crediting adrenaline and will, Patrick finished the race. However, she was in enough pain that it tempered her celebration when she learned where she placed.
She can now carry that state-medal performance into next year as a returning senior.
“I don’t really have any plan to place higher as a goal,” Patrick said. “But ultimately I want my time to look better. If your time is better, you get the medal.”