Beachwood girls indoor track team

The 2018 Beachwood High School girls’ indoor track team. From left, Heidi Maier, Cayla Jeff, Maddie Alexander, Mia Knight, Ashaunti Griffin, Ashley Perryman, and Ayla Gambrell. 

The Beachwood High School girls’ indoor track team is the Cleveland Jewish News-Buffalo Wild Wings Warrensville Heights Player of the Week.

The Bison took home their second consecutive Division II championship at the state meet on March 3 in Geneva. Beachwood was led by senior Mia Knight, who took first in the 60 meter and 200 meter dashes and was part of the 4-by-200-meter relay team that took third, along with fellow senior Cayla Jeff, junior Ashaunti Griffin and sophomore Ashley Perryman.

Head coach Willie Smith said the repeat title stands as “one of the best achievements” of his coaching career.

“We had hoped (to repeat), and if we all stayed healthy and everyone were able to participate, we felt we could do that, so it came to fruition,” Smith said. “We were missing one of our top guns in (senior) Leah Roter who (chose to) not run indoor (this season), so as the path became more difficult, the girls rose to the occasion.”

The team also endured tragedy when junior Abigal Bendis died on Dec. 8, 2017 and her teammates wanted to dedicate the season to her, Smith said.

“When it happened, we came together and wanted to dedicate the season to Abbie,” he said. “We did it as a tribute to her, so there was a greater determination for us to win it in her memory.”

Despite back-to-back titles, Smith said he’s been mentally preparing for a while for next season, as Knight and Jeff will graduate. He said he’s been coaching for that moment by getting Griffin, Perryman, junior Heidi Maier and sophomore Maddie Alexander prepared to lead the team.

“Ashaunti Griffin will be our leader and our best individual performer,” he said. “She can do almost anything on the track.”

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