RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Based on her four gold medal showing at the state track and field championships, a Randolph Lady Ro-Hawk was recently named as one of the best athletes in the area.
In its June 17 issue, the San Antonio Express-News named Randolph's Jayla McArthur as their Girls Track Athlete of the Year. The honor covers schools in the Greater San Antonio area.
McArthur capped off her junior year at Randolph by helping the Lady Ro-Hawks win their second straight Class 2A state title in May.
The daughter of Master Sgt. James and Lucy McArthur said she had no idea she had been considered for or selected as Girls Track Athlete of the Year until Randolph girls track coach Misty Kinsey announced it at the school's athletic banquet in late May.
"I was excited," she said. "I felt like crying."
It was at that same athletic banquet that McArthur and fellow track teammate Jenovia Morrison were honored as Randolph's Girls Co-Athletes of the Year.
McArthur won the four events she competed in at state - the long jump, 400-meter run and the 400- and 1,600- meter relays. McArthur ran the first leg of the 400-meter relay and anchored the 1,600-meter relay team, whose first place finish helped the Lady Ro-Hawks win the state title by two points over Woodville.
The teen won the long jump with a personal best of 18 feet 11 inches, which she accomplished on her last try in the event. She had the best showing of any San Antonio girl in the long jump this season.
This year was McArthur's third trip to the state meet and she has nine medals - six gold, two silver and one bronze - to show for her three years at state.
Being named Girls Track Athlete of the Year does not mean she will rest on her laurels, McArthur said.
"It means I will have to strive harder to achieve my goals for next year," she said.
Going into her senior season, McArthur wants to improve her 400-meter time by two to three seconds because she believes college track coaches will take a second look at her if she does that. McArthur ran a 56.41 in the 400-meter at the state meet.
This summer, McArthur will keep in shape by running for the AAU track team Randolph Runners.
She said her father and mother have been her biggest supporters.
"My father has pushed me and made sure I did everything right," she said. "He has been at every practice, at every meet and has told me what I need to work on. Pretty much, he has been my lifetime coach. Whenever I lose, my mother has given me words of encouragement to do better the next time, to fight and to push on."
Sergeant McArthur said he has seen his daughter grow up from an eager child runner to a state champion.
"A father couldn't be more proud," he said.
Sergeant McArthur said Jayla took an interest in being competitive when she was a three-year-old while the family was stationed at Offutt AFB, Neb.
"I was the only one out of a group of eight parents to have had a girl," he said. "Jayla raced the boys and developed a lot faster than they did."
When Sergeant McArthur was transferred to the 344th Recruiting Squadron in Arlington, Texas, Jayla continued her love for running at West Elementary School.
"When she participated in track meets at West, she was beating everybody," Sergeant McArthur said.
Jayla has gotten better because of her hard work and dedication to running, Sergeant McArthur added.
"She just constantly competes," he said. "She runs indoor and outdoor track. She will take her chances at anything she can compete in."
While she has been getting letters of interest from NCAA Division I schools such as Baylor, Princeton, Texas Tech, Texas State, Louisville, Oklahoma State, the University of Miami and others, McArthur said education will come first when it comes to choosing a college.
"I want to go to a school that has a good engineering program and a good track team," she said.
If McArthur continues to show the determination and hard work that has made her one of the best track athletes in the area, then she will surely be successful in whatever she chooses to do in the future.