Tori Findley, the brilliant distance champion who has run away from the competition all season, is accustomed to the spotlight.
The Blue Springs South senior easily won the 1,600 and 3,200 Saturday afternoon at the Class 5 District 7 meet Saturday at Blue Springs High School.
But Emari Grimes, a junior from Fort Osage who jokingly hides behind her coaches when approached for an interview, better get used to the bright lights as she shattered her two school records while claiming wins in the 200 and 400 meters at the district meet.
“I’ve been coaching a long time,” Fort Osage coach J.D. Snead said, “and I’ve never seen anyone do what Emari is doing this season. She recently cut four seconds off her 400 time – and no one really does that – and she just keeps breaking her school records in the two events every time she runs.”
However, Grimes jokingly told her coach she no longer wants to run the 400.
“She said she hurts when it’s over, but I told her it’s a good hurt,” Snead said, laughing. “I told her it’s like being lactose intolerant – that ice cream tastes so good, even though you know you’re going to pay for it later.”
Grimes, who has become more comfortable with the attention she is receiving this year, laughed at the lactose intolerance reference.
“I love my ice cream – I can’t give that up,” she said after winning the 200 in 25.23 seconds and the 400 in 56.19. “I told Coach I’m not going to run the 400 next year, but he knew I was kidding him. It’s a hard race – really hard – but I’ll keep running, and hopefully keep winning.”
When asked about her rise to stardom and the target on her back, Grimes said she is accepting the challenge.
“I didn’t know what I would do this year,” said Grimes, who has no track on which to train at Fort Osage because of a new football and track complex that is being built at the high school. “I train hard, when we get to another school’s track or in our hallways at school, and so far, it’s been a fun season. I’ve have a lot of fun – winning is fun.”
Winning has been fun for Findley throughout the season. She has not lost in a regular-season meet, claiming titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the KU Relays and turning the district distance events into her own personal showcases.
In a tribute to her friend and teammate Danielle Hotalling, the two Jaguars ran side by side for the first 1,600 meters of the 3,200 before Findley ran off to claim a win in 10:58.54. Hotalling was second at 11:20.01.
Findley won the 1,600 in 5:03.40.
“Danielle and I talked about doing that in the 3,200 and it turned out super cool,” Findley said. “It’s all winding down. I want to take care of myself and be ready for sectionals next week at state the following week. It’s been a great season.”