ACL injury not withstanding, Mane wins gold

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By DOREEN HEINTZ
Sports Editor

After taking second place to Corvallis’s Katelyn Frost in the 100, 200 and 400 at state last year, Fergus’s Jaree Mane was greatly anticipating returning to the state track and field meet this year. Frost graduated and Mane looked forward to being in the running for winning gold in the three events in 2016. In July 2015, Mane was attending a Grizzly basketball camp and unfortunately tore her ACL. She had surgery soon after the incident, but knew she faced a long tough road to recovery. Playing volleyball during her senior year was definitely out of the question.

Mane worked hard in physical rehab and did return to the basketball court six months later and over halfway through the Golden Eagles’s season. Mane helped lead her team to a return trip to the Class A State Basketball Tournament.

The question on Mane’s mind and that of her track and field coach, Steve Olson, was how effective she would be in track this season. The long jump and triple jump were without question no longer events Mane would compete in. But what about her sprinting ability? She was cautious throughout the season. Her knee was holding up, but she seemed to have a number of other little nagging injuries that kept her out of several track meets.

At the Eastern Divisional Track and Field Meet held in Laurel, Mane won both the 100 and 200 and finished third in the 400. She also finished a surprising second in the javelin, an event she picked up just a couple of weeks prior to the divisional meet.

Next up was Mane’s biggest test of the season – the state track championships. On Friday, she conserved her strength by not running her best times in either the 100 or 200. In the 100-meter dash, Mane’s preliminary time on Friday was the third fastest and she finished second in her preliminary heat. In the 200-meter dash, Mane won her heat but she had only the second fastest qualifying time in the Friday preliminaries.

Friday was a busy day for Mane. She ran on the Fergus girls’ 400-meter relay team that qualified for Saturday’s final and she also competed in the javelin. Mane got off her best throw of the season in the javelin at 116 feet, one inch to surprisingly finish fifth at state.

Saturday was Mane’s biggest test of the year. First, she helped her teammates, Marissa James, Courtney Brand and Whitney Weeden, win a state track medal by finishing fifth in the 400-meter relay.

Next up was the finals in the 100-meter dash. Mane was assigned lane seven in the event – not exactly the best lane to run in, but certainly near all the other strong competitors.

After a clean start, the 10 finalists raced down the track, and in a photo finish, Mane was declared the winner over Laurel’s Taylor Ludwig by a mere 0.01 second. Mane’s official time was 12.78 seconds, compared to Ludwig’s 12.79 seconds.

“My start was a little slow,” said an ecstatic Mane after the race. “I think I got her (Ludwig) at about the 50 meter mark. Then I just pushed myself to the end.

“It felt nice to be as close to where I was last year at this time,” Mane added. “I don’t think my knee is 100 percent yet as I am only 10 months from my surgery. I also don’t think I am in the best of shape yet.”

When taking her place on top of the podium to receive her gold medal, the relief could be seen on her face.

Mane expressed concern about how well she would finish in her final event at state – the 200-meter dash. But she had no reason to be concerned when she broke away from the rest of the finalists and won the event almost four tenths of a second faster than Ludwig, who finished second.

“I got off to a much better start,” Mane said after her 200. “I wasn’t as nervous about my start this time –maybe because of the adrenaline rush I was feeling.”

 

What’s next for Mane

With high school graduation behind her, what is next for Mane at the college level? She admits to always wanting to play college basketball. More importantly, she wants to follow in the footsteps of other start Fergus players such as Katie Edwards, Sonya Rodgers and McCalle Feller and play for Coach Robin Selvig of the Lady Grizzlies at the University of Montana.

“I have been accepted at the U of M,” said Mane. “I have also had my request to walk-on for the Lady Griz approved.”

When asked about maybe playing for the Lady Bobcats, Mane simply said, “It they offered me something, I might change my mind.”

 

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