Hammond's Jett Boosts Track Team To Championship

February 20, 1991|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff writer

Hammond High's first regional indoor track championship was Jett-propelled.

Kisha Jett, a Golden Bears freshman, raced to two individual gold medals and was part of a winning 800-meter relay team last week at Hagerstown Community College.

Jett, the only individual champion among county girls at the Region I, Class 2A/1A meet, tied a school record with her 55-meter -- time of 7.18 seconds.

She also captured the 300-meter run in 42.2 seconds. Teammate Mekka Richardson finished second to her in both events.

Jett, Richardson, Jackie Rieschick and Lauren Choate combined for the 800-meter relay victory (1:52.4).

Because of an illegal exchange, Hammond's mile relay team was disqualified and Jett's outstanding 61.8 quarter-mile split time went for naught.

Hammond won the team title over runner-up Glenelg, 82-60. The Gladiators won just one event, the 1,600-meter relay of Tammy Coon, Amy Ashby, Alex Sellner and Tara Calloway (4:32.8).

But it was Jett, who captured three golds and a silver at the county meet, who stole the show at regionals.

Running comes naturally to the 16-year-old phenom, whose brother, James, is a world-class sprinter and a starting football wide receiver for West Virginia University.

Jett had opened a lot of eyes to her speed while playing soccer last fall, and she had never competed in track before. One of the hardest things for a novice runner is learning to break from the starting blocks, and she isn't completely comfortable in the blocks yet.

"But so far I haven't DQd (disqualified)," she said. "I'm getting better on the blocks."

Once out of the blocks she lives up to her name, running past most of her competitionwith a whoosh.

"My main competition is Mekka. She keeps pushing me, but we're friends," Jett said.

Routinely, she modestly directs conversations to teammates and away from herself.

When teammate Jackie Rieschick, who led the team with four gold medals at the county meet, came down with strep throat and a severe cough before regionals, Jett knew the pressure was on her and all of her teammates to do better.

"Jackie is a big part of our team, and we all felt badly forher," Jett said. "We only have 14 girls, so we're close and we put our all into it."

Seven of those 14 qualified for states -- including the courageous Rieschick, who somehow ran and finished third in both the 500 and 1,600 and was part of the winning 800-meter relay.

Hammond Coach Pete Hughes beams when he talks about Jett: "Once in a lifetime you get a runner like her. College coaches are already asking me about her, and I tell them they have to wait, she's only a freshman. I'm just glad I don't have to coach against her."

Jett, who is 5-feet-5 and 120 pounds, makes up for what she now may lack in great technique with tremendous raw talent.

"She's determined and hates to get beat," Hughes said.

Jett's goals are modest and team-oriented right now: "I'd like to win a state team championship sometime before I graduate."

Last year Hammond finished second, to Central, a track powerhouse at the state meet. With Rieschick less than 100 percent, the Bears will have a tough time beating Central.

"Our big goal is to win the 800 relay," Jett said.

The state meet is today at the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore, and if Jett wins an individual gold medal, then her coach has a special prize for her.

"It's aHugo Boss sweat shirt," Jett said. "Jackie and Mekka have already gotten theirs and I really want one."

Unless she falls down, she's an odds-on favorite to get that Hugo.

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