JFK hurdles duo ahead of the competition

Chad Zallow and Morgan Rice are used to being in the lead.

The John F. Kennedy High School hurdlers aren’t acclimated to losing too many races.

Both hurdlers have won district and regional titles heading into this weekend’s state track and field meet in Columbus.

JFK hurdles coach Jeff Jenkins have trained the pair to go up and over each obstacle with ease.

Jenkins also works with other top-level hurdlers in northeast Ohio.

Both Zallow and Rice trained with a couple of Division I girls regional champions in West Geauga’s Chantel Richardson (100-meter hurdles) and Nordonia’s Taylor McDonald (300 hurdles) recently.

“I think the difference (last Friday) was we did some downhill running,” Jenkins said. “We all trained together last week over at Twinsburg. I think that makes a difference because now is the time to run real fast.”

Rice has the best Division III 100 hurdles regional time heading into state (15.15 seconds) and third best in the 300 hurdles (45.33).

She said Jenkins has helped her be a better hurdler.

“Before I went to him, I didn’t know anything about hurdle form,” she said. “I kind of ran the hurdles. He taught me everything I know. I pretty much owe all my hurdle form and all my success to him and my other coach, Coach (Robert) Andrews.”

Andrews, the JFK track and field coach, works with the speed and strength aspect with these Eagles hurdlers.

“With all this working together, that’s why it came together real good (last Friday),” Jenkins said.

Zallow, who has the best 110 hurdles regional time going into state (14.20) and third best in the 300 hurdles (38.51), runs with an arched back, which is more noticeable in his relays.

“I like to stay relaxed when I run and have my back arched,” he said. “It feels natural to me that way. I feel comfortable that way, so that’s the way I’ve been running.”

He’s been running in the lead during most meets, but was almost clipped by Steubenville Catholic Central’s Doug Maslowski at regionals. Maslowski ran 14.23.

“The thing is he really hasn’t been pushed,” Andrews said. “For him, his technique wasn’t really that good over some of the hurdles (last Friday). Chad, the type of kid he is, he’s going to be real focused and work super hard to make sure everything is proper. This was good for him to happen at this stage. I would hate for that to happen in Columbus.”

Now, Zallow and Rice will use the rest of the week to get ready for Friday morning’s Division III state semifinals. If they make the top eight times in each of their events, the pair moves to Saturday morning’s finals.

“Lifting in the weight room for maintenance and getting as fast as you possibly can, turnover, turnover, turnover,” Jenkins said. “As long as you get your fast twitch fibers (pertaining to muscle fiber that contracts relatively rapidly) going, it will be smooth sailing.”