After last year’s state track meet, Diamond Pace took a nice, long break from competitive sports. No summer track, no cross country this fall.
Now the Danville junior is re-energized and ready to get back to her state championship form.
“I am because I feel more focused,” Pace said. “I’m a team captain now. I feel like I really need to set more of an example for my teammates. We have a lot of new people, and I feel I have to make sure this year is the best year I’ve had.”
Pace also wants to shake off what she thought was a disappointing end to her track season.
She won Class A titles in the triple jump and 300-meter hurdles her freshman season. But last year she finished seventh in the triple jump and second in the 300 hurdles. She was also part of the state-qualifying 1,600-meter relay squad.
“I was really disappointed in my triple jump more than anything,” Pace said. “I didn’t even know what I got at state. My hurdles were still good, my time was good even though I got second. But I want to get back my title in the triple jump and hurdles.”
But instead of getting right back on the track, she walked away for a bit. Pace got to devote more time to two of her other favorite things: Acting and modeling. She actually took off right after last year’s state meet for a modeling show in Lexington. She squeezed in camp and a trip to Texas as well.
“I liked modeling. I auditioned for the Governor’s School for the Arts, so I really like acting too,” she said.
She said that time off was needed to get back to what she also enjoys: Track and Field.
“Running consumes my life a lot. I do cross country (in the summer and fall) and then do track from January though June. It really helps to focus on other things and come back with a better attitude and fresh,” Pace said.
Danville coach Sadie Gambrel expects Pace to bounce back to her old ways and walk away with more state titles.
“Diamond is very competitive, like her teammate Kaitlin Snapp, and when one is down the other picks them up. I've seen in her practices more determination and now we just got to put everything in to motion,” Gambrel said. “If the weather holds up so that we may be able to stay outside then I can say look out here comes ‘Double’ (Diamond) with ‘Trouble’ (Kaitlin) on her heels.
“I'm looking for her to regain both her titles in the triple jump and the 300m hurdles. If anyone can do it, then Ms. Diamond Pace is the one that can.”
Pace is also getting some help from an All-American to help her get back to her winning form in the triple jump. Chrys Jones, a former Mercer County and Harrodsburg state champion long and triple jumper who has won multiple national titles at Centre College, has been working with Pace on her form, something she said she never did much of before.
“I lacked practice in that. I would run with the team and practice my hurdles a little, but I never get to the (jumping) pit,” she said.
Pace is excited to see how much Jones can help her.
“We’ve both had the same problems with our second fade. I think he’ll know specifics to tell me and since he’s still doing it in college instead of being someone who is out of school, I think he can really help me get into the details of what I may need to do better,” she said. “He helped me a little bit (when Jones was) in high school. He gave me a few tips, but we never really practiced together.”
Since Jones graduated nearly four years ago, it shows pace just how long she’s been on the Danville track team.
“This is my ninth year. It’ just crazy that by the time I graduate it will be a decade,” she said. “It has flown by really fast. I’m kind of sad in a way, but I’m ready to move on to do other things.”
That is, after she takes back her state titles.
Some of the area's top returning tennis players, listed in alphabetical order:
Alex Beckerson, Burgin
Marcus Brown, Danville
Isaiah Burrus, Mercer County
Lamar Dawson, Boyle County
Donovan Ellis, Mercer County
Jordan Ellison, Casey County
Eric Evans, Boyle County
Devin Furlow, Danville
Zack Hill, Lincoln County
James Johnson, Mercer County
Joe Lee, Casey County
Logan Arnold, Boyle County
Alex Bunch, Lincoln Coutny
Rachel Ditto, Boyle County
Emily Frith, Lincoln County
Megan Holderman, Boyle County
B.J. Hogue, Casey County
Olivia Logue, Mercer County
Tayler Lowe, Mercer County
Diamond Pace, Danville
Kaitlin Snapp, Danville
Top Meets for Area Track and Field teams:
April 1 — Pulaski County Invitational.
April 9 — Lake Cumberland Classic, at Somerset.
April 16 — Alvis Johnson Heart of the Bluegrass, at Henry Clay.
April 22 — Southwestern Warrior Classic, at Somerset.
April 26 — Rockcastle County Inivtational, at Mount Vernon.
April 29 — Boyle County Inivtational.
April 30 — All "A" Classic, at Danville.
May 7 — E.G. Plummer Invitational, at Danville.
May 10 — Casey County Invitational.
May 13 — Central Kentucky Confernece Championships, at Casey County.