by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Alexa Dixon anchored the Crusaders winning 4x100 relay and ran personal best in the 100-meter dash on May 1 against Westview.

There’s something about competing in 80-degree warmth that halts head-scratching slumps, heals tormenting injuries and builds self-worth.

Running and jumping under the hot sun on April 30, key stars from both the Westview and Jesuit girls’ track and field teams reintegrated themselves to the Metro echelon with convincing successes that came with personal bests and fresh confidence.

Jesuit’s 4x100 relay of Kathrina Slater, Abby Wachter, Keara Vu and Alexa Dixon ran together for the first time this season after injuries kept the 2013 state qualifiers from competing as a unit. Running a 49.42 with a still-rehabbing Dixon drumming the anchor leg for the Crusader win, the short relay squad gathered their old chemistry and beat Westview by nearly two seconds.

“It just felt good to get back in the rhythm and how it was before,” said Dixon. “We haven’t had a consistent 4x100 set of four girls because of injuries, but we ran really well. We definitely have a lot to work to do, and we can get better. But, I think we have a really good shot at districts. We have a lot of potential.”

Dixon injured her groin a few weeks back during a spring break meet in Arcadia, CA that kept her from racing Sunset star and archrival Taylor Coon at the Jesuit-Sunset dual meet in April.

However, the 2013 200-meter state runner-up said she finally feels healthy again, and is ready to reclaim her place as one of the fastest females in Metro. In the 100-meter dash against the Wildcats, the Jesuit junior ran a career-best 12.37, just .02 away from Coon’s top 12.35.

“I’d say I’m back to 100 percent now,” said Dixon. “It was hard because I missed a couple meets, but I’ve been working really hard at physical therapy so, I think I’m there. I just have to keep working out and get back in really good shape. I just have to keep working hard and getting at it.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior javelin thrower JoJo Ananouko threw 131 into the wind against Westview on May 1 to take first overall for the Crusaders.

Lately, Jesuit’s JoJo Ananouko has been battling back problems that have frustrated the defending district javelin champion. Yet, the junior’s 131’ toss in windy conditions against Westview was just eight feet from her personal record, which is second best in all of 6A.

“Being able to fight through those injuries continues to motivate me to go further and further,” said Ananouko. “It takes a lot of strength, but form and technique are just as important, if not more important. If you’re trying to chuck it out with strength, it’s not going to go really far.”

Ananouko said she’s pushing toward Liz Brenner’s school record of 151’, which could transpire either this year or next based on Ananouko’s progression throughout her career.

“From freshman year to last year I had a 20’ jump,” said Ananouko. “If I get anywhere close to that this year, I’ll only be two feet off that record. I’m feeling a big jump soon. I’m getting better every day and feeling a PR coming on soon.”

Chloe Smith swept the 200-meter (26.49) and 400-meter dash (1:01.53) for the Crusaders, who cruised to an 111-32 win over Westview.

Dylan Hite won the 800, Chloe Jensen took the 1,500 and Ellie Kallgren took first in the 3,000. Connie Parker took first in the discus and shot put for the Crusaders.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview's Reed Richardson took second in the high jump by clearing five feet on May 1. Richardson also won the triple jump and long jump.

After no-heighting for most of the season in the high jump, Westview’s Reed Richardson cleared 4-10, which placed her third behind Jesuit’s Claire Corbett and Wildcat teammate Hannah Garrity.

“It was nice to finally get over the bar,” said Richardson. “I’ve kind of been in a slump lately, and I think the warm weather and the good training lately just brought it out of me. I’ve been getting a lot better, so I’m looking forward to districts and state.”

For most of the season the Wildcat junior said she couldn’t find her swagger when it came time to flying over the pole. Yet, one solid clear in the opening rounds put a smile back on Richardson’s face and gave her a taste of success.

“There’s always good competition here and it just felt good to win,” said Richardson. “I came in not very confident, but after winning long jump I got pretty confident.”

A club soccer player who plays year-round, Richardson’s taken a break from the pitch to aim her efforts on the three jumping events.

And, with Jesuit’s Hadley Wilhoite — a surefire district and state contender — injured for the foreseeable future, the door is wide open for an athlete like Richardson — who went to state last year in the triple jump — to step in and snatch an individual Metro title.

“I really want to go state again,” said Richardson. “It was a really fun experience last year, one of the best experiences I’ve had. And, especially with Hadley out I’m looking forward to maybe taking first at districts.”

Richardson also won the long jump (16-01) and triple jump (34-09) against Jesuit.

Garrity tied with Corbett for first place in the high jump despite starting her run-up from the football field and onto the rubber surface of the take-off area. With a seasonal best of 5-04, Garrity is the Metro leader in the high jump, and Richardson has the third-best mark.

“The reason our school has had good track athletes is because there’s two of them,” said Garrity. “So, to have Reed there and have me there cheering her on, it helps.”

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