Runs in the family

NEW MIDDLETOWN – It wasn’t in high definition, but Joh’Vonnie Mosley could clearly make out the distorted color on the grainy telecast. Most of all, she could make a positive visual of No. 18 in an Iowa Hawkeyes football uniform.

It was her father, Dennis, a 1976 Rayen High School graduate, who was playing against Iowa’s archrival, Iowa State.

Google search “Dennis Mosley Iowa football” under videos and one will find the 1977 game between the two teams. Start the video around the 2-minute mark and one will see the fleet-footed Mosley zip past the Cyclone defenders en route to the end zone.

“When I saw it, I started laughing,” Joh’Vonnie said. “It was so old. I couldn’t believe that was him running. He was real skinny.

“It was pretty cool to see. For years, all I hear is, ‘Do you know how good of an athlete your dad was and blah, blah, blah?’ Finally I was able to see a video of him and get to see it for myself.”

Needless to say, the 2010 McDonald High School graduate has plenty in common with her father – speed and plenty of it.

Joh’Vonnie, the 2010 Tribune Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year, was on the Blue Devils’ 4×100-meter relay team at state in 2009. In basketball, she, like her father, used her quick moves to juke out defenders on the floor and get into position, before the opposition, in the post.

“Being a bigger girl, to run like that, I know it came from the natural talent I’ve had,” Joh’Vonnie said.

But it’s the track and field prowess that brings the Mosleys together.

Joh’Vonnie, who is a Kent State University senior, won the 2010 Division III girls discus title and took second in the shot put her senior year at McDonald. Dennis was the 1976 state champion for Rayen in the 100-, 220- and 440-yard races.

Now, Jai’Lyn, a current McDonald senior, can add her name to the Mosley legacy at this year’s state meet. She’ll compete in the Division III shot put and discus on Friday, just outside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Jai’Lyn has the best throw in the state at 157 feet, 5 inches, which she threw at the Optimist Meet on May 3 in Austintown.

“I see him and I’m like, ‘OK, he is the athlete of the family.’ He started it all. We call him Father Abraham,” Jai’Lyn said.

Dennis always had sage advice for his daughters.

“I used to always tell them you’re out there by yourself,” he said. “It isn’t being like on relay team and you’ve got somebody handing off to you. For the events I was in, I was out there by myself. Really go with inside yourself to stay focused on what you’re truly doing. Don’t get distracted. There’s a lot of mental work for them, throwing the shot and disc, just staying focused.”

Jai’Lyn works with the McDonald girls track and field coach Mary Domitrovich, who is the school’s throwing coach as well.

“She’s been a blessing to us,” Dennis said.

Mary’s sister, Jeanette, helped Joh’Vonnie, who recently qualified for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., during her time at McDonald. Joh’Vonnie keeps in touch with both sisters.

“I still keep in contact with them,” Joh’Vonnie said. “When I threw the 55-1 (shot put) and the 172-1 (discus) at Akron (earlier this season), I texted them and told them. They always tell me how proud they are of me and congratulations.

“I tell people they are great coaches and great women.”

Jai’Lyn holds the school record in the discus, breaking her sister’s mark. It was something she wanted to do – break free of her older sister’s shadow.

“Growing up, we were always into sports,” Jai’Lyn said. “It was like, your sister did this. Your sister did that. Are you going to follow in her footsteps? It adds pressure, but I felt I dealt with it pretty good. My goal was to make a name for myself, not as Joh’Vonnie’s sister.”

Friday, Joh’Vonnie, Dennis, their mother, Veronica, and the rest of the McDonald contingent, will watch Jai’Lyn in those throwing circles outside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium – waiting to see if she can capture gold in the discus and possibly the shot put.

“Jai’Lyn is a way better discus thrower than I am when I was in high school and where she is,” Joh’Vonnie said. “It’s amazing to watch her throw. Every time she gets in that ring, my heart starts pounding. I want her do well. Why am I shaking like this? That’s my little sister and I want to see her do well.”

Jai’Lyn will have her chance, like Joh’Vonnie and Dennis, to bring home gold, from the state track and field meet.