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Published June 6, 2006

                  

State Champion

Jackson captures McClain’s first-ever state title with personal-best performance; is runner up in second event

by Lori Roush, Times-Gazette Sports Editor

   
I wanted to copy the Times-Gazette's article to this site in order to preserve it. The following two articles and photos were written by Lori Roush and appeared in the June 5, 2006 edition of that paper.. 
Right on track
COLUMBUS — Things are looking extremely positive for McClain junior Dante Jackson after his exceptional performance in the preliminary events at the OHSAA’s State Track and Field Championships Friday afternoon.

Jackson, competing in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, left all his competitors in the dust and left many in Highland County wondering if a state champion could return here tonight after the finals that begin at 1 p.m. at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Also competing in the Division II meet in the 3200 meter run is teammate Ricky Workman, a senior. That event will start at approximately 2:40 p.m.

After placing third and fourth in the 300s and 110s, respectively, at the state meet last year, Jackson is making his third appearance. He finished third in the 110s in 2004.

On Thursday, McClain’s multi-sport all-star was two tenths of a second faster than his closest rival in the 110s. He ran the preliminary in 14.48, with Pepper Pike senior Aaron Dobson next at 14.68. Both were in heat No. 2. In the first heat, Columbus’s Eastmoor Academy senior Gary Sims had the fastest time of 14.74.

In the 300 meter hurdles, Jackson again had the top time of 38.69. With him in heat No. 1 was Heath junior Aaron Roberts with the next-fastest time of 38.91. Dobson finished first in heat No. 2 with a time of 39.42.

In 2005, Jackson ran the finals in 14.61 and 38.57 and he had high hopes for the future despite being disappointed after the 300 race went anything but as planned.

“I’m going to win state next year,” Jackson said after placing third in the 300s. “That’s my goal. I want to be back here in at least two events, maybe three. I’m going to really work on my two hurdle events, because everyone that beat me this weekend was seniors. So, that gives me a little hope for next year. ...”

Jackson met the goal of making it to Columbus again in two events and just has that one last goal to accomplish. All his fans in Southern Ohio are keeping their fingers crossed that he reaches it.

   

A remarkable athlete — an even better person

by Lori Roush

Wow!

That’s about all there is left to say about Highland County’s newest state champion, Dante Jackson.

For the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of covering this amazing football, basketball and track athlete. He’s placed three straight years at the State Track and Field Championships and is an All-Ohio basketball player who is pushing 2,000 career points.

dante-times-gazette_a.jpg (23858 bytes)

Dante Jackson, a junior at McClain, talks with coach Bob Bergstrom and teammate Terry Workman after placing second in the 300 meter hurdles. Several of his supporters are also pictured.

dante-times-gazette_b.jpg (29025 bytes)

McClain’s first-ever state champion Dante Jackson, right, reacts as he crosses the finish line in first place, ahead of Eastmoor’s Gary Sims in the 110 meter hurdles at the state track meet Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

It didn’t take long to realize that he is remarkable on the field, court and track, but more importantly, he’s an even better person.

I remember talking with him after he placed at the state track meet in 2005 and being in awe that a high school sophomore could be so well-spoken, polite and grateful for what others have given him.

Less than a year later, I wanted to see what he had to say about breaking McClain’s single-game scoring record of 45 points in a basketball contest midway though the season.

What did he have to say? Basically it boiled down to him thinking his coach’s 400+ wins in 25 years of coaching was much more impressive. 

He surely has his critics, as any high profile player will, but around here, there’s not many people who haven’t witnessed how genuine this kid really is.

Dante has been in the spotlight for years. How tough it must be to know that you are a role model for hundreds of children, that you must soon decide about your future, find out who to trust, and be sure to not let down a community that has shown so much support.

Talk about pressure. That would be hard to handle as an adult, let alone a teenager. But, he seems to be handling it just fine. He signs autographs for kids, he takes time to talk with recruiting magazines and reporters, he hugs his friends and coaches after winning a state championship, he continues to have fun doing what he loves to do, and he doesn’t forget to thank those who support him and help him deal with all the pressure. 

This kid isn’t done yet. He has his senior year, then must choose what college will be best for him. His list of achievements is bound to grow, just like the admiration of his community.

On Saturday, after winning the 110 hurdles event and being the runner up in the 300 hurdles, Jackson said he appreciated those who came out to support him. He said he was honored that the mayor of Greenfield, his football and basketball coaches, the athletic director and numerous others came to watch him. It won’t be long when the day comes that another kid is chasing his own dreams — perhaps one of those kids who treasures Dante’s autograph. Who will he be honored to have in the stands watching him? My guess is Dante Jackson - a great athlete and person.

   

©Copyright Fall Creek Communications, 2006