CASPER – A year ago, Jenae Ramirez left state track and field in heartbreak after taking a fall right before the finish of the 300 hurdles finals. This season she departed in tears yet again, but for a much different reason.
The Rock Springs High School senior entered Saturday in contention to win two state championships – once again in the 300 hurdles and the also in the 400-meter dash. Despite the pouring rain that rally made warmups tough, Ramirez ended her Tiger career with a runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles before fighting for a dramatic state championship in the 400.
She came into the finals with the second-best time in the 400 and easily as one of the favorites to win. However, when the eight finalists reached the final corner with just 100 meters left in the race, Ramirez had three or four girls still ahead of her.
At that point, several things were running through her head, but one thing was for sure – she wasn’t going to let anyone beat her to the finish line.
“Like my coach says, I’m not always first to the 200, but I always have a kick at the end … I hit the 100 and I was in fourth or fifth and I thought, ‘No, it’s my senior year. I’ve got to go.’ I knew I was going to be so sad if I didn’t get that win,” Ramirez said. “My coach told me before that no one could beat me on the last 100, that’s my strongest. I started praying on the last 100 just to get to the line faster. I was scared, but then I was so happy and blessed.”
With several teammates and coaches screaming for her to kick it in at the final corner, Ramirez took off. As the rest of the field began to slow down with fatigue, the RSHS senior blew past the first two and then passed Thunder Basin High School’s Kezley Yeager right at the line.
It was a thin margin of victory, as her time of 59.39 seconds just edged Yeager’s 59.68, but it handed Ramirez her first individual state title nevertheless. The finish was close enough that many spectators weren’t sure who the winner was, but Ramirez knew, as she raised both fists into the rain in celebration.
“I thought that girl from Thunder Basin was going to cross right with me, but I think I started to pull away in the last 2 meters. I knew that I had it, but I didn’t know if they were super close to me,” Ramirez said. “I just started crying. I had so many mixed emotions. Before the race, I was crying because it was my last high school race, last time getting in the blocks. Then when I finished I just looked up at my mom and (raised my arms).”
The final day of state track this season was a stark contrast from last year for Ramirez, as it went from having her state title dreams dashed to becoming a two-event all-state athlete as she finished her RSHS career.
“It just feels unreal, because in my head the words ‘state champ’ just means so much to me,” Ramirez said. “Last year I was seeded to almost win the hurdles, and then I fell on the last one so I was sad. I wrote a post and said, ‘I’ll get it next year,’ and I didn’t win the hurdles, but I was fine with my second place. I was really grateful for that, but in the 400, I was like, ‘This is my place to redeem myself. I have to go out with a win.’”