When Darian Grayson moved from Fort Osage to Blue Springs High School, the sophomore was apprehensive.

When Darian Grayson moved from Fort Osage to Blue Springs High School, the sophomore was apprehensive.
“I was leaving all my friends, and for the first semester or so, I just went to class, went home and did nothing,” Grayson said.
But she’s had plenty to do once the track and field season started, as she is a member of the state-qualifying 400-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter Wildcat relay teams – all of which rank No. 1 on The Examiner’s Area Honor Roll.
“To say she was a great move-in would be an understatement,” Blue Springs girls track coach Jennifer Reeder said. “How many times have you seen a girl compete on all three relays?
“I can top that – how many times have you seen three relay teams from one school go to state? I know it hasn’t happened here in the last six or seven years. And I think each team has the chance to do something special.”
The Wildcat relay teams survived and thrived at district and sectional meets to set the stage for this weekend’s Missouri State High School Track and Field Championship at Lincoln University’s Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City.
The teams are made up of Stephanie Burasco, Shannon Danaher, Elizabeth Reynolds and Grayson in the 3,200; Grayson, Bria Taylor, Brittany Thomas and Danaher in the 1,600; and Ronay Coleman, Grayson, Thomas and Taylor in the 400.
“The great thing about the three relay teams is that the girls really care for each other and are having a great time,” said Reeder, who had to make the final plans for a progressive dinner Wednesday night before the team leaves for Jefferson City this morning.
“Something like a progressive dinner is a lot of fun. You see the girls hanging out together in the hall between classes and they go to each other’s houses. They really care for each other, and you can tell that when they compete. No one wants to be the runner who lets the other girls down.”
The 3,200 relay team heads to state following a 9-minute, 45-second clocking at sectional. The 1,600 team has a 4:04 clocking and the 400 squad checks in at 49.68.
“They’re all in the top five or six off their best times of the season,” Reeder said, “but the 400 team is probably going to be ranked about 10th at state, the 1,600 will be eighth and the 3,200 around sixth or seventh. And that’s fine with us. Every school record that’s been set with the girls relay teams – and none of these teams own a school record – have been set at state.
“And we’re expecting big things from these three teams. And more importantly, they’re expecting big things, too.”
On their final day of practice, the mood was lighthearted and enthusiastic.
Boys coach Joe Cusack serenaded the girls with an inspirational pep song, they checked out some photos that were taken at a recent meet and they made plans for the progressive dinner.
“This is a special group of girls,” Grayson said. “You can kind of tell we like to be around each other. The coaches make practice fun and we know when to have fun and when to be serious.
“And we’re going to be serious at state.”
Grayson ran at state last year as a Fort Osage freshman, and missed medaling in the 400 “by less than one half of a second” with a ninth-place finish in the preliminaries.
That makes the newest Wildcat more determined than ever to help her relay teammates bring home some bling.
“I ran a horrible 400 at district and didn’t make it to sectional, so I really want to do well at state,” she said. “We all want to do well at state. We’re not going to put any pressure on our relay teams by making any predictions, but I think we’ll bring back some medals, I really do.”
So does Danaher, another talented sophomore who has a bad taste in her mouth from the 2009 state championship.
“We finished ninth (one place out of winning a medal) by .35 of a second,” Danaher said, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “Do you know how close that is? I think about that race every day.
“If we win a medal or do well at state this year, maybe I’ll quit thinking about it.”
The talented sophomore duo believes that preparation is a key to success at state.
“We’ve done a lot of work on our handoffs,” Danaher said. “We’ve got it all down and we’re ready. We have three good chances to bring home a medal.”
Added Grayson: “We’re three teams within the Blue Springs track team. We have great support from the other members of the team and our coaches have done a great job getting us ready.
“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get to state. I think that’s pretty much how everyone on the team feels. We’re ready to go.”