Jayda Fair has a new title … queen of Calhoun County cross country.
The Ohatchee senior isn’t the first royalty in county cross country, but her crown has an extra special jewel in it. As of Saturday’s state meet in Oakville, she’s the county’s first female individual state champion.
Fair finished first in the 1A-2A meet, covering the Indian Mounds Course in a personal-best 20 minutes, 1.56 seconds.
Fair finished well ahead of Cold Springs’ Reagan Parris (20:29.52) and Holy Spirit’s Anaelyse Perez-Ruiz (21:02.68).
It wasn’t Fair’s first big victory this season. A year after last year’s queen, Alexandria’s Abby Nunnelly, won her third county title, Fair won her first.
Her county title also came a year after former teammates Blake Noah and Gabe Hammonds finished first and second on the boys’ side.
Fair’s accomplishment also came in front of her current coach, Casey Lipscomb, and former Ohatchee coach Casey Howell, who led Cold Springs to 1A-2A boys’ and girls’ state titles last weekend.
With the season now over, Fair has time to rest up for the start of practice for the track season. A 33 on the ACT gives her lots of options for college to ponder.
Meanwhile, Fair gets to wear her crown and all that comes with it. She took a few minutes to talk to Star Sports Writer Joe Medley for the weekly 10 questions feature:
Question: Take us through the race Saturday, and when did you know you had it?
Answer: In the beginning, I knew I had to get around everybody, but I didn’t want to start off too fast. My plan was, first mile, stick with Reagan, because she was predicted to get second, so I had to at least stay with her. Second mile, I had to break away, because I cannot sprint at the end as well as other people can, so I have to make the lead large in the second mile. I got the lead, and, third mile, I just expanded on it. Around when we had 800 left, the people were telling me that I was about 100 yards ahead of her, so I knew I had it.
Q: What was the feeling, when you got that piece of information?
A: At first, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘No way. She has to be closer.’ When I finished and realized she was that far away, it was just weird and exciting, I guess.
Q: How does it feel to be county and state champion in the same year?
A: It’s very strange, because I never expected to ever get to this point. If you would’ve asked me in seventh grade, would I be a county champion or state champion, I would’ve said no. I just feel like I did my best this year because it was my last.
Q: You had your current and former coaches there Saturday, and Coach Howell is coaching your top competitor. What was that like?
A: It was kind of weird at the beginning of the season, having a new coach. The team was kind of discouraged at first. We just learned that, sometimes, things happen like that, but that doesn’t change who people are. It was nice having my new coach there, who helped me through this stage, but also my former coach, who had been there for the build-up years, I guess. It was nice to have him there, and I think, while I was running, he was also shouting my times, too, even though his runner was right there, too, so it was kind of nice.
Q: What’s beyond high school for you?
A: I want to major in psychology and neuroscience, or double major in psychology and cognitive science. I’m part of this program called QuestBridge. It’s where you fill out an application, and you get to rank 12 schools. If you match, you get into the top school of your choice with a full ride. I hope I get selected for that. It’s Washington University, in St. Louis.
Q: What celebrity’s autograph would you like to have?
A: I think Edith Piaf. She’s a French singer from the early 1900s, and I love French and the French culture. I love her music, even though it’s really old-timey. I would love to meet her.
Q: What’s something you wish you had more time for?
A: Relaxing, knitting. One day, I said, ‘Mom, I want to learn how to knit,’ and she got me yard and needles, and I just learned how to knit. I’ve knit poncho sweater. I’ve knit hats. I’m knitting a bag right now.
Q: No matter how old you get, what’s something you don’t think you’ll ever grow out of?
A: Probably Halloween costumes. I love dressing up. This year, it was a witch for the first part of the day, and then it turned into the Zodiac Killer. I didn’t know which one I wanted to do, so I did one the first part of the day and the other the rest of the day.
Q: If you could choose any topic for a research paper, what would you choose?
A: Probably movie analysis. I like watching movies and picking them apart. Right now, in class, I’m doing the differences between the three modern Jokers, but I think I’ll probably do one on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. My favorite Joker is (played by) Heath Ledger.
Q: As you were coming up in cross country, was there a runner around here to whom you looked up?
A: Victoria McRaney used to run here. She graduated last year. She did cross country and track, but she didn’t do it her 11th-grade year. She came back her senior year, and it made me realize how much of an impact she had on me. In eighth grade, I wasn’t very good at any of it, and coach said. ‘Stick with her, and she’ll get you to where you need to be.’ So I stayed with her, and she helped me become what I am today.