MIDDLETOWN — One of the officials during the state girls track and field championship meet presented Tapestry’s Jada Kenner with a bullet fired from his starter’s pistol.
No word on whether she crossed the finish line before the bullet returned to the ground. The way Kenner’s rookie varsity season has gone it wouldn’t have been surprising if she’s faster than a speeding bullet.
One take that’s undisputed: She’s the fastest high school girl in the Empire State. And the seventh-grader still isn't in high school.
Kenner dominated during the second and final day of the state track and field championship meet at Middletown High School on a hot, sunny Saturday. On a day when temperatures exceeded 80, Kenner crushed it in capturing the public schools Division II 100- and 200-meter dash titles. She then returned later in the day and captured the overall Federation titles in both events — besting a field in times that included large-school and private school competitors.
Kenner won the 100 in 11.9 seconds and the 200 in 23.83. Both times flirted with world records for 12-year-olds, according to Tapestry coach Dan Tryon.
To review: Kenner’s outdoor season also included matching the world record for her age group in the 200 last month to go with winning Section VI titles in the 100, 200 and helping the 4x100 relay win a gold. She set the world mark for her age while winning the indoor state title in the 300 in March.
It is believed she’s the first Section VI female to sweep the 100 and 200 public schools and Federation titles since current Tapestry assistant Ashley Fields pulled off the feat roughly 10 years ago while running for Amherst.
“It feels amazing,” Kenner said. “I’ve definitely put in a lot of hard work from indoor and outdoor. I’m just happy I was able to execute the way I wanted to.
“My weekend was very busy because we were running a lot. I was just making sure I stayed hydrated because it was hot outside and then I got a good warmup so that I could execute.”
Kenner won the public schools 100 in 11.94, crossing ahead of Schalmont’s Mia D’Ambrosio (12.09). Both times were better than the top two finishers in the large schools 100-meter dash race. In the 200, Kenner won in 24.25 — edging D’Ambrosio by .35.
Then came the Federation races in the afternoon. The Federation included the top finishers from the two championship heats as well as top qualifiers from Catholic/private schools and New York City PSAL.
Kenner won the 100 in 11.9 and followed that with a 23.83 in the 200, winning that by almost a half second. She's the only girl to post times below 12 seconds in the 100 and under 24 seconds in the 200.
“Her weekend was amazing but it wasn’t unexpected,” Tryon said. “She came into this year with a bunch of goals. Her goal was to be the fastest girl in the state and she achieved that. She ran some of her fastest times to push herself into position to be the fastest. … She pushed herself, it was a hot day, she ran four 100s and three 200s the last two days. That’s a lot, plus it was 80 degrees, we haven’t had 80 degrees all year and that changes a little bit about how the body feels but she’s real special and we’re so proud of her.
“And she’s only 12.”
Kenner wasn’t the only one making history for Tapestry. Senior Maryam Akaic became the first Thunder Hawk to win a state title in a field event as she captured the Division II shot put in a personal-best/school-record 41 feet, 5.5 inches. She followed that a fifth place showing in Federation.
“It’s awesome,” Akaic said. “I never thought I could do any of this. It’s great to be the first (in program history). I can finally rest. It feels good. At the end of the day I couldn’t have done it without my coaches.”
Tapestry females have now won a combined 11 state championships in 11 years. Tryon has been coach for seven years and all of those title wins. The title run began with the 4x100 relay five years ago featuring then eighth-grader Nia Stevens, who blossomed into a star who'd collect six state titles.
With Kenner in the fold, it looks as if the tally could grow.
“We came here and competed in five events and came away with three state championships and two Federation championships. That’s pretty amazing for one of the smallest schools in the state that doesn’t even have its own home track," Tryon said.