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Sprinting past the competition

March 19, 2015

by Lauren Sears

A junior at Albany High School recalls always coming in first during races in gym class and on the soccer field in elementary school.  Jahari Coleman began running track and field for Albany since seventh grade. Four years later she is one of the top runners in both Section 2 and the state.

Coleman prefers to run indoor track, unlike most of her teammates. She runs the 55 meters, the 300 meters, the 4 x 200 relay and the 4 x400 meter relay. Her favorite part of running indoor track is hearing encouragement from the fans.

“When I’m running and everyone is cheering you on, that is my favorite part of indoor,” said Coleman.

She credits her teammates for helping her succeed.

“As a team we all stick together. Our team is all about having fun, they help me by staying focused, we push each other during practice when we are ready to fall on the floor… they will be like let’s go we have one more,” said Coleman.

Coach Jeff Barnes has been a key figure to Coleman’s success.He has been the girls’ varsity track and field coach since spring 2012. Her freshman year she came in ninth place in the 55 meter dash, and fifth  in the 100m. Making it to the podium at the Indoor State Championships in the 55 meters on Feb. 28, is one of her proudest  moments, as well as  improving her 100 meter race in outdoor track.

“I realized I made a change, I improved,” Coleman said.

“She started out like any other freshman coming in to see what it is. She started to realize how good she was, and then she started to win. As a freshman she placed 9th in the indoor 55m, I saw her outdoors that following spring, and she was winning everything up to 60m.  I’m like how in the world did you lose indoors? I thought it over and said next year you aren’t coming in last ever again, 9th technically doesn’t make finals, you are not letting that happen again. She’s grown to love the sport,” Barnes said.

One of Coleman’s teammates also credits Barnes for the team’s success.

“He’s a strict coach but it’s all for the better, obviously if he wasn’t the type of coach he is, we wouldn’t be where we are or have as many athletes prosper in this sport,” said Destiny Harris.

Coleman is always looking to help her teammates succeed as well.  She has been known to take time out of her warm up to help with their block work, and helps push them to be the best runners they can be.

Jahari Coleman of Albany High Track and Field/Lauren Sears

Jahari Coleman of Albany High Track and Field/Lauren Sears

“She is a very caring person and she’s shy. She’s spunky, cheers for everyone at track meets, is just fun to be around, she always tries to have a good time, and is very positive,” said Barnes.

“Jahari pushes me to be better. Because we all want to be as good as her,” said Nina Rouse, a teammate.

Coleman’s goals include running Division 1 college track and field.  She said that the key to success is hard work, being focused, determination and never backing down from a race. “Even if I know it’s going to be tricky, I just go with it. I notice when I’m nervous, the better I run,” said Coleman.

Barnes believes that Coleman has what it takes to run collegiate track.

Honestly, I think the sky’s the limit for her. I think she is learning the training now and you can see from her performances this year she took the 55m, and the 300m in States, last year I believe she didn’t make the finals at state qualifiers for the 300m. She’s starting to understand that you have to train above your event to run your event. You have to train at the 800m to run the 400m, 400m  to the 200m and so on. She’s starting to understand those concepts,” said Barnes.

Coleman comes from a running family, her father was an 800 meter runner for Albany High, and she has a natural talent for the sport.

“She’s fierce, she’s always ready to compete against the best, she always asking for the best competition, I think that’s what makes her so good, she doesn’t back down from anyone, that’s a big part of it. I think that’s her best quality, she never backs down from competition, you could be Allyson Felix, she’ll be ready to step on the line,” Barnes said.

Another long time teammate says Coleman’s talent has been known since middle school.

“I ran with Jahari in modified track in middle school, ever since then our coach said she would be talented. We knew she had talent, so when I saw her run in high school and the way she picked up medals and trophies so quickly, it wasn’t a shock, we knew it was coming because she’s always been talented,” said teammate Mercedes Johnson.

Coleman has some advice for those who may want to get into track and field.

“If you like Track, you will stick with it. But it can be hard especially at the beginning of the season, it can be very hard,” Coleman said. “I tell everyone this, ‘Track isn’t for everybody but if you are really dedicated to it, you’re going to like it and you are going to know that hard work and hard practices will better you on the track’,”  Coleman said.

The first meet this season for Coleman and her teammates is on April 1 against Bishop Maginn High School at Albany High beginning at 4:30 p.m. -30-

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