Davis misses run in the Big Dance by a mere ‘foot’

Published 12:03 am Saturday, June 17, 2023

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ distance track runner Anna Davis set a school record in the 3200 meters this past season. Davis was on pace to qualify for the Division 2 state meet but a foot injury shortened her season after the district meet. (Tim Gearhart sports photo for The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker


Going to the big dance might have cost Anna Davis from going to another Big Dance.

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Davis was going to the Ironton High School Prom which meant she was going to dress up in style which she did. And a few days later she would dress down into her track uniform for the Ohio Valley Conference track and field meet.

Anna Davis

But between those events, something happened at the big dance that would cancel her chances of make the Big Dance, a.k.a. the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division 2 state meet. Davis attributes her woes to the high heels she wore to the prom.

“I should have had smaller heels,” Davis said. “A couple of days after I was like, ‘man, the ball of my foot hurts.’ It’s at the weirdest spot. Other girls said it was probably from my heels so I thought I’m not going to think about it. Prom was on Saturday and we had the OVC meet on Tuesday. I must have accidentally tied my spikes way too tight  because after that meet it kind of hurt to walk. I thought it was just lactic acid from the races.”

But the pain persisted. Davis kept running and the pain was getting worse and worse. She told coach Tim Thomas and they decided to step back her running somewhat and took other precautions.

The district was up next but there was a long break of nearly two weeks and Davis kept running but the pain continued to get worse.

“At the districts I was kind of nervous because it hurt so bad just training. I ran it anyway and it was really hard,” said Davis. “It definitely effected my time. I believe if I din’t have a broken foot I could have ran a lot faster. But I still ran with it so it’s fine.”

Davis still managed to finish fourth in the district and earned a berth in the Division 2 regional meet.

“I talked to coach T about it and we were like, ‘it’s not over yet. We’ll at least try to give it a shot in case my foot gets better.’ I couldn’t run the next week to try and to hope it gets better,” said Davis.

So for the next week of practice, Davis rode a stationary bicycle and did some core work but later in the week the pain was still intense and it was time to do the inevitable and get the foot X-rayed.

The results were what she feared. She had a stress fracture.

“If I had ran it would have broke all the way,” she said.

With her dreams of making the state meet erased, Davis took a positive approach and looked at all the things that had happened throughout her decorated senior season.

“It was really a great season, so I’m just happy with how the season went,” Davis said while shrugging her shoulders. “I kept getting better and then with the broken foot it was really hard to train.”

Davis posted an excellent time of 12:0.71 to finish fourth in the Division 2 district meet and earn a trip to the regional meet.

But that is where the the sweet taste of success turned sour.

Davis set two records during the hundreds of miles she’s ran during her high school career.

This past season she set the school record in the 3200 with a time of 12:24.77 and then she broke it again with a blistering time of 11:43.18 at the Tudor’s Biscuit World Relays in Charleston, W.Va., on April 29.

“I was so excited t be 12 (minutes). Breaking 12 was my goal for the end of the season and getting that I was like ‘myeline is complete,’” Davis said with a big smile and a laugh. “Coach T (Thomas) had me go up to a Charleston meet took and had me run with this really good competition and that pushed me. I was so happy.”

In the OVC 3200 race, Coal Grove’s Laura Hamm broke the league record with a time of 11:59.03, easily bettering the old mark of 12:24.44. And in that same race, Davis also broke the old record with a snappy time of 12;03.21.

It was almost inevitable that Davis would take up running whether it be cross country, track or both.

Parents Dr. Todd and Christi (Bowen) Davis along with older sister Graci and younger sister Alli have all been or are currently distance runners in cross country and track.

“I guess I got into it because of my family. They did it and it looked fun,” said Anna Davis. “They didn’t have a cross country team in middle school so as soon as I got into high school I did cross country.

“Graci was a senior when I was a freshman was someone I really looked up to. She was really good. The next year when she wasn’t there it was kind of different. I was on my own. But my parents were really encouraging. They know a lot about it. It’s fun because our family is its own little running community. They understand what I’m talking about when I say something.”

The family was helpful in her training but she did a lot of running on her own. She said they were able to tell her how to deal with certain situations.

“I didn’t start to improve and excel in running until my junior track season. Coach (Thomas) started giving me speed workouts. I hadn’t done anything but pacing because I’ve done cross country all four yers and I just started track my junior year,” said Davis.

“Getting into the 800 was my race last year. After that, I got really excited and started running a lot more and doing not only just running but xxx. I think my junior year track is where it all started that made me start to look into more things about running.”

Cross country was used for stamina and track for speed. By combining the two sports Davis was able to improve here time and moved to longer races such as the 1600 and 3200 meters.

“She’s a hard worker. She’s really self-motivated. She got a nice note from John Hamm from Coal Grove who has a terrific daughter (Laura Hamm) and he complimented Anna on how he saw her out running all winter by herself and what a great job she did and her whole outlook and how she improved,” said coach Thomas.

“And that’s just the kind of way she is. She goes and works on her own, she does what you ask her to do but she’s also very self-motivated. She’s probably one of the most talented runners I’ve ever had. And I don’t know there’s ever been a finer human being, a finer young lady than I’ve ever had in coaching. I’ve had a great ones and a lot of fine people, but I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone more wonderful than Anna to work with.”

Davis has the ability to run at the next level, but she gave it considered thought before deciding she was going to just run for fun and concentrate on her college education.

“Focusing on my grades and academics is my main concern. I was kind of on the fence doubt it and then I said if I’m not dead set on running for the next four years then I probably shouldn’t. It’s a lot harder than high school,” said Davis who plans to be an early childhood major in order to teach and possibly coach track.

And coaching track seems to be a reasonable idea. She already has her foot in the door.