Fitch freshman Bryant shines in debut season

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Austintown Fitch’s Brayden Bryant crosses the finish line during the Division I 100m dash at the state meet this past weekend in Dayton. He finished eighth with a time of 11.21.

DAYTON — Even as a freshman, Brayden Bryant has been on the move for the last 12 months. The Austintown Fitch Falcon went from summer conditioning, to camp, to football season, then indoor track season, then finally, to outdoor track and the state meet.

After making it into the Division I boys 100m dash finals as the last qualifier, he posted a time of 11.21s in his state meet debut, finishing eighth to earn a spot on the podium at the state meet this past weekend in Dayton. The freshman came into the outdoor season placing eighth in the indoor 60m dash, as well.

“For me personally, I think that’s really good as a freshman. There’s not a lot of freshmen out here. Obviously, there’s the kid from Wayne (Jamier Averett-Brown), he’s really good. I competed, made the top eight like I said I was going to do at regionals, and now I’m on the podium,” Bryant said. “I was a little nervous as a freshman. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have high expectations of myself.”

Bryant ran a time of 10.91s in the first heat of the trials on Friday, finishing fourth in his heat and edging out Avon’s Cole Kepner by .003 seconds. The two best finishers in each of the three heats earned automatic bids for six out of the eight final spots, so Bryant had to play the waiting game on edge to see if he’d compete on Saturday.

As luck would have it, both of the at-large qualifying spots came from that first heat, which also featured the eventual state champion Mateo Medina and state runner up Averett-Brown.

“Just had to stay focused, just look and see what I can do with my race to make it better, and that’s what I had to do, just execute,” Bryant said. “(The competition) pushes me a lot more. So I can just be better and learn off of them, and make my races better as the years go on.”

Bryant noted the support he’s received from his teammates, friends and family.

“I’m very honored, they’re probably in Youngstown, really happy — probably texting me on my phone right now saying good job and stuff, so I’m really blessed and honored,” he said.

As the saying goes, the grind truly never does stop. Bryant reports in for Fitch football conditioning this week after making it all the way to the final day of track competition in June.

“I’m not stopping. The job’s not done either. It felt really fast going by. After football, I went to indoor, then after indoor, I came to outdoor track, and now I’m at state. It just feels like the first meet from outdoor,” Bryant said. “In track, my speed goes on, it translates to the field and how I run on the field.

“This is going to push me to be top three on the podium and to just get better as the years go on. I want to thank my coach, Coach (Seth) Steiner. He helped me get my technique better and to give me the mindset to push me to go harder. I also want to thank my mom (Ashley Bryant) and my dad (Lawrence White) that got me here, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here right now.”

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