Jeffrey McReynolds will try to get a leg up on the competition today.


Literally.


The South Aiken standout will try to accomplish the feat over and over as he competes in the 110 Hurdles in today’s track & field state championship meet at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.


He’s one of the top contenders in the race. McReynolds earned that distinction by winning the Region 5-AAAA championship in that race, as well as the 400 Hurdles. He’s finished first in region for three consecutive years.


But McReynolds has a couple of factors working against him. This is his first foray into the state meet, and a stage of that size can be daunting. Secondly, and more significantly, McReynolds is trying to overcome a hamstring injury – the bane of any track & field competitor.


“He’s been nursing a hamstring injury,” said William Griswold, McReynolds’ coach on the South Aiken track & field team.


Griswold said the injury has had an affect on McReynolds performance. It also has prevented him from running in the 400 Hurdles in the state meet. According to Griswold, McReynolds had to pull up when running in that event in the state qualifying meet.


The injury also could’ve affected his performance in the long jump on Friday, the first of two days for the state meet. McReynolds won the region title in long jump, but the injury prevented him from getting enough preparation for the state meet, where he placed seventh.


“He hasn’t done work in a few weeks,” Griswold said. “That finally caught up with him.”


While McReynolds might not have mete his goals, he still has a chance to post a good performance in today’s 110 Hurdles. He won the region race in :14.86 and will most likely need to improve on that time to win the state championship. He qualified seventh overall for states.


But even if he doesn’t, McReynolds is only a junior, and Griswold is quick to point out he’s looking forward to having his rising star back for another season. McReynolds is a two-sport athlete, also playing football for the Thoroughbreds. He used to play basketball too. When Griswold got him on the track, he knew he had a budding star – he just didn’t know in what event.


Griswold admitted to some trial and error before finding out what McReynolds is best suited for. McReynolds said he’s hitting his stride because of the effort he’s put into being successful.


“I’ve done more work and focus. I’m getting stronger and faster,” said McReynolds, who also credited the guidance and support he gets from his family and coaches for helping him succeed. “My goal is to get No. 1 in everything and make everybody proud.”


Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.


Editor’s note: This version of this story has been updated to correct names that were printed incorrectly. The name should have been Jeffrey McReynolds. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.