East Jackson’s Brynn Mericle closes high school career on top

The last high school track meet of Brynn Mericle’s career at East Jackson was at the Division 4 state meet at Hudsonville.

The Trojan senior who has dominated the 100 hurdles all season capped off that season with a state championship.

It took a while for her win to get confirmed. She finished in 15.93. Athens’ Jocelyn Hall finished in 15.96.

“I didn’t know I had won it yet because it was such a close race,” she said. “I was just looking at my parents and they were refreshing the stats. When my parents gave me a thumbs up, I knew.”

The win at state came one year after she qualified in the event but could not make it out of the prelims. At the 2021 state meet she ran a 17.59, the ninth-fastest time, leaving her out of the field for the finals. Hall ended up winning the state championship.

“I never thought about really winning it because last year I was two seconds slower than I am now,” she said. “At the beginning of this season I could see how far I’d come.”

She can see the improvement when she looks at her form. She credits that to strength and conditioning work she did, not just for track but also for basketball.

“I finally three-step all my hurdles and I could gain speed,” she said. “Last year I would three-step two hurdles and then four-step the rest. It was just not a good combo.”

This season she stayed at the front of the field, no matter what field she was in. She won the 100 hurdles at invitationals at Napoleon, Leslie and Stockbridge, then at East Jackson’s own Dome Classic. She added Cascades Conference, regional and Selby Classic titles before heading off to state. Through it all she gradually chipped away at her time. At Napoleon to start the year, she ran a 17.76. By the time the Selby rolled around May 31, she was running the 100 hurdles in 15.99.

And it wasn’t just the 100 hurdles. She won the 300 hurdles at conference, regional and Selby meets, taking fourth in the event at state. She, Kaitlyn Pilch, Addisyn Rudd and Savana Stewart were part of a conference-champion 4×100 relay. She even took a win in the 100 at the Leslie Invitational.

But it was hurdles where she made her mark.

“I did the two-mile and one-mile in middle school and then they put me in the hurdles once and I got first place my last race as an eighth-grader,” she said. “And they said ‘we’re going to put you in hurdles and see where that takes you.’”

It ended up taking her to college, where she will run 400-meter hurdles at Trine next year.

It also took her to the top of the podium at state.

“I means a lot,” she said. “It means I pushed myself and actually made it somewhere.”