Sophomore clears 5’7″ on 3rd attempt for schools first state title in a track and field event
BY ETHAN LILLARD
DES MOINES – Keokuk’s Miracle Ailes is the best Class 3A girls high jumper in the state.
Ailes brushed aside two bumps of the cross bar at 5’7″ going head to head with Waverly-Shell Rock’s Reagan Dahlquist, the only jumper left after four others dropped out at 5’6″.
After missing the second time, Ailes crossed the blue oval to have a chat with her mother and her head coach before attempting the height a third time. Missing would left her deadlocked with Dahlquist.
“Since my mom was a high jumper, she told me I need to get my butt up,” Ailes said about the conversation she had with her mother before her state championship winning jump.
“She’s like, ‘It’s you and the bar. Don’t even worry about the other jumper. It’s you and the bar. You can do this. You got over 5-8, you can do 5-7. I prayed and gave it all to God and was like, ‘Thank you Jesus for letting me get over.”
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In addition to her mother, Ailes said she put a lot of faith in herself and God to get over the bar on the final leap. Ailes could have chosen to keep jumping until she missed, but chose to stop at 5’7″.
She had to pause the high jump competition midway through to run in the 100-meter preliminaries. She had just finished qualifying in the 100-meter dash with a 12.78 and will run in those finals on Saturday. She will also run in the 200 meter-dash finals on Saturday after she raced to a 26.14 in Heat 2 of the preliminaries Thursday, the fifth fastest time of the day in 3A girls.
“I was just really thanking God for pulling me together to be able to get over that bar,” she said. “Having that mindset that you need to get over after you just get done running, it’s really hard, but I’ve been in a lot of sports that teach me to be mentally tough. That’s what I had to do. I had to be mentally tough to get over 5-7.”
Just a sophomore, Ailes already has a Drake championship to her name and is hoping to build on her early success as her high school days roll on.
“It feels amazing to have this and my Drake championship as a sophomore. I feel really good about it because I never dreamed as a sophomore that I’d be where I’m at today. But I’ve had this goal for awhile and I finally achieved it. I’m ready to go get more my next couple of years.”
Faced with possibly missing on her third try Ailes said she changed her approach to the jump a little, and focused on speed instead of her normal routine of getting a couple bounds in before running to the bar. She said the change may have made the difference.
“Usually in my previous jumps I do a bound to get me started,” Ailes said. “It helped on my lower jumps, but sometimes when I get higher I have to do a straight sprint to get my vertical higher. I didn’t do any bounds and straight sprinted it. I think that really works when the bar gets higher.”
With her main focus on the high jump out of the way, Ailes now can concentrate on the finals for the 100 and 200 as well as the long jump, which will take place on Friday afternoon.
“It feels really good because coming up here my main focus was high jump,” she said. “That’s what I’m known for. I’m a high jumper. I jump high. Getting this out of the way feels really good to just be able to focus on the 100, 200 and long jump.”
In the 200, Ailes quickly found herself in the middle of the pack, with speedster Davenport Assumption’s Carly King racing by in the next lane. Ailes dropped by about six feet coming around the second turn and then closed the gap down the stretch.
“I just knew that I had to stay with Carly,” Ailes said. “She makes me push a lot more. I just tried to stay behind her and not worry about anything else.”
“For it being a warm day, I feel like that’s pretty good,” Ailes said about her finish in the 200-meter dash. “This is only prelims. Hopefully I make it to finals and I can dig down and maybe pick out a 25 or something.”
Pen City Current Editor Chuck Vandenberg contributed to this report