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“Going for the Gold” sponsored by Jim Jeffreys Shelter Insurance

It will be old hat for McAlester senior Jalen Spears as she makes her third appearance at the state track meet in May. She will be shooting for gold this year in the 300-meter hurdles competition after finishing second last year and she’ll be looking to return to the podium in the 100-meter hurdles where she
finished fourth last spring. She will also be a part of the Lady Buffs 4X100 and 4X400 relay teams at
state. She qualified for state as a sophomore as well when she was living in Wilburton.

“I started running in 5ks and stuff for fun and then coach Rodney Price in Wilburton got me into more
competitive running in the sixth grade and he really developed my love for running,” said Spears. “I tried
a lot of different events when I first started and just found that hurdles was what I was best at.”

Jalen’s coach, Johnny Skimbo, says that Jalen is poised to have a great finale to her season.

“She has been phenomenal this year. She’s been first or second in almost every meet we’ve had for
hurdles, and she’s helped us post the fastest times we’ve had in the girls’ relay events in the past five years.”

Her past experiences at state have taught Jalen some valuable, and sometimes painful, lessons.

“My sophomore year I got disqualified in both events at the state meet and that has been a big
motivator for me to do better and a hard lesson to learn. I think I also learned that being nervous is okay
and taking time to really focus the night before is important. I think about my competition, but I don’t
dwell on them and just focus on running my race because anything can happen.”
Jalen took on a proactive role as a team leader in track as well as the Lady Buffs basketball team this
year even though she was out of action with a leg injury a good part of season.

“I’ve had to step up as a leader in both sports this year because not enough people take it seriously and I
know a lot of our team can do well so I try to offer constructive criticism while displaying a good
example of hard work.”

Jalen hopes another strong showing this year will help her land a college scholarship to run track next
fall.

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