One of the fastest girls in the state of Nevada calls Spanish Springs home.
Where junior Jess Ozoude got her talent, she doesn’t know.
“My dad said it’s from Kenyans,” Ozoude said with a grin. “But we’re not even Kenyan.”
She played soccer growing up, including her first two years at Spanish Springs, and conceded that she felt she always had a step on those she was sharing the pitch with.
Still, it didn’t become real until the state track meet last May at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
Lining up for the 200 meters final, she picked out Cimarron Memorial senior Mia Russell as the biggest threat to her first individual state title. Russell was fresh off winning the 100m state title.
“(Russell) was really fast and we had the same times,” Ozoude said. “I thought it was going to be really tough, like neck and neck.”
It was not.
Ozoude ran away from everyone, including Russell, to win the state title in a time of 24.40 seconds – .81 seconds faster than Russell, who finished second.
“I couldn’t believe it happened,” Ozoude said. “It was crazy.”
The state championship is the highlight of an already sparkling athletic resume the Spanish Springs junior has pieced together.
As a sophomore, as well as standing atop the podium in the 200m, she finished fourth at state in the 400m (after finishing second at regionals) and was part of the 4x100m relay that finished fifth at state after winning the regional title.
As a freshman, she won the 100m and 200m regional titles before finishing second and third respectively at state.
Despite the state medals that represent her successes (which she still keeps in the plastic blue cases they were awarded in), she still reflects on the miscue which likely prevented a fifth state medal.
After a state runner-up finish in the 100m as a freshman, Ozoude stood in the blocks for the DI North 100m final, 12 seconds and change from qualifying for state again. One flinch took that shot away.
“I don’t know. I was just really nervous about the race, and twitched I guess,” she said.
One who prefers to let her crazy speed do the talking, and not particularly thrilled to relive the disqualification, she answered the two following questions (Do you still think about it? And does it provide any additional motivation?) with one word.
She hopes to use that motivation to break the 200m state record that’s stood for 32 years. In order to take over the top spot, she would need to shave .41 seconds off her state championship time from last spring.
“I just (have to) work really hard,” Ozoude said.
She started her junior season last weekend with a meet at Reed but her best shot at breaking the record will likely come May 14 at the DI North regional meet in Carson. The state meet is one week later, also in Carson.
And if she doesn’t break the record at either of those meets in May, she still has another entire year to chase it down.
She doesn’t know where her speed came from, but by the time she leaves Spanish Springs next spring, she could be one of the fastest girls in Nevada history.