Denison’s Shaw set to battle best in long jump at state

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Denison junior Faith Shaw will compete in the long jump at the Class 5A state track meet on Friday.

Faith Shaw didn’t want to get ahead of herself.

Making it to the state track meet wasn’t even a goal at the beginning of the season since there were so many steps needed to get there.

“It doesn’t make sense not to be focusing on what’s right there than what’s in the future,” she said. “You’ve got to worry about that stuff first before you can think about something like state.”

No matter how far she could jump, Shaw knew she had to be consistently good in order to get to Austin.

So the Denison junior set out to win the district title in the long jump.

When she did that, she focused on winning the area title to reach regionals.

And when that happened, she had to have another strong performance — at least be in the top two — to lock up a state berth.

Shaw continued her winning ways with a third gold medal and now tries to finish with the biggest championship she can capture when she competes in the Class 5A state meet at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium on Friday morning.

“Nervous but ready for the challenge. It’s a good accomplishment but I want more,” Shaw said. “I want to win. Being named state champion sounds pretty good.”

She is the first Denison athlete to qualify for state since the last of Jaycee Parker’s third straight appearances in 2012.

“I’m happy but I wanted some company — that’s what I really wanted,” she said.

Shaw was the 5A Region II champion with a leap of 18 feet, seven and a quarter inches on her third attempt that bettered the finishes of Frisco Heritage’s Charli Foreman and Frisco Lone Star’s Gabrielle Miller at 17 feet, 10 inches.

She had three jumps which would have won the title since they cleared 18 feet.

“I was worried about the regional meet,” Shaw said. “I just focus on what I’m doing. Anybody can jump what they jump at any time.”

Shaw enters state with the fifth-best qualifying effort. Eight on the nine competitors cleared 18 feet to advance and the one who didn’t was just short by two inches.

The top three distances are by Fort Bend Hightower’s Cynai Christopher (19 feet, two inches), Lubbock Coronado’s Bryanna Craig (19 feet and a half inch) and Manvel’s Aryn Johnson (19 feet).

But Shaw’s winning jump in the 9-5A/10-5A area meet was 19 feet, two and three quarters inches so she knows she can compete with anyone in the field.

“I know I have it in me,” Shaw said. “I’m working hard to make it happen.”

She also just missed making the podium with a fourth-place regional finish in the 100 meter dash at 12.14 seconds that was a personal record. Frisco Reedy’s Madison Jeffries won in 11.88 seconds.

Shaw also was also on the area meet qualifying 400 relay with Brilee Payne, Kzaria Butler, Makaylia Galloway and the 800 relay with Galloway, Acadia Pace and Butler.

Shaw, who was a second-team all-district selection in basketball, started the postseason by winning the District 10-5A title at 18 feet and also was the district champ in the 100.

But it took some time to build up to that point after a rocky start.

“There were girls excited about hitting 16s and 15s and I was over there mad because I wasn’t hitting 18,” Shaw said about her early-season results.

This could have been Shaw’s second state appearance if not for COVID-19 shutting down spring sports last year. Her best leap before the rest of the track season was cancelled was 18 feet, five inches and would have had her in contention to not only reach but advance past regionals.

“I think that was turning into a pretty good season,” Shaw said. “We were on to something and the COVID hit.”

That effort was an improvement of over a foot from her freshman year, when her best jump was 17 feet, one and a quarter inch.

Despite her success in the long jump, Shaw does not compete in the triple jump or the high jump — two events that would seem to be a given based on her current success.

“I can’t do triple jump; there’s too many motions to it. High jump is the same with that backwards motion,” she said. “With the long jump it’s just easy and straightforward.”