Kerri Kosten, Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

COLUMN: Justice Washington excited to see what sophomore track season holds at Alderson Broaddus


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Justice Washington has been running track since middle school.

“When I was younger, I started playing soccer at the age 5 in my hometown Charleston,” she said. “When I moved to Morgantown, I proceeded to play for youth soccer for MYSA youth soccer. This took place at Laurel Point in Morgantown. As I grew older, people noticed my speed — not so much my foot skills. So at the age 14, I started to run track for South Middle School.”

Washington had two idols growing up.

“I have a lifelong idol which would be my father, Alonzo Washington,” she said. “He has been my No. 1 fan since the very start, even before sports. He has believed in me on and off the track regardless the situation. As I grew up, I watched him work hard, struggle but then come back up again and succeed. If I’ve learned anything from him, it’s stay humble, be patient and always get up after you fall. Everything I do is to make him proud, and I can speak for my brothers that he raised just the same — we couldn’t ask for a better person to look up to.

“My other idol would have to be my high school track coach Jamie Dalton. He was more than a coach to everyone around him, he was someone you could rely on. Watching how patient he was and how much he trusted his process that brought success gave me hope, as it did for many others. He is a very dedicated man on and off the track and will do whatever he sets his mind to. He doesn’t believe in failure. He thinks that every fail or mistake was an opportunity to learn and apply it to the next time. These things strengthened me physically and mentally, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Along with the hundreds of kids he has coached, he is an idol to all.”

Washington is a 2019 graduate of Morgantown High. She is currently a sophomore at Alderson Broaddus and feels running track there is different from MHS.

“Of course, college sports will be a little bit different from high school sports because in a way you are moving up a level,” she said. “I will say coming from MHS, I did not think it could get any higher than that. Even though some think track is an individual sport, it’s not, and when I went to MHS, I learned that. But here at Alderson Broaddus, you really get to focus on yourself individually and what you specialize in.”

As a freshman, Washington finished with a time of 1:03.35 in the 400-meter dash at the Kent State Tune-Up. At the Dragon Grand Prix, she placed third in the 400m dash with a time of 1:02.42 and first in the fifth section of the 200m dash with a time of 27.42. At the WVU Marty Pushkin Open, she finished second in the 500m run with a time of 1:27.71. She helped her relay team finish second in the 4x400m relay with a time of 4:27.62. At the Pioneer Open, she finished second in the 400m dash with a time of 1:02.48. She finished with a time of 27.74 in the 200m dash. She helped her relay team to a third place finish in the 4x400m relay with a time of 4:30.18.

Even though her season was cut short due to the coronavirus, Washington feels her freshman year went well.

“Before coronavirus, I think my freshman season went amazing and would have been an even better with an outdoor season to follow,” she said. “The team was coming together, and people started to find what events they could succeed in. I can say at the end of my indoor season, I was feeling greatly confident, not in just myself but the team as a whole.

“I am very thankful for my freshman season even though it did get cut short. We still got to run indoor meets in the winter, which was overly exciting. I have only ran one indoor meet prior to coming to Alderson Broaddus, so I got to experience and get the hang of running indoors instead of out. Our spring season of course got canceled, but I think that just gives us more motivation for next season.”

Washington is excited but uncertain about her sophomore season.

“Sophomore year has me anxious and thrilled at the same time,” she said. “Athletically and academically, I want to succeed but for once I can’t determine the outcome of the year and neither can teachers and staff. As of now, all I can do is focus on school and that I succeed there, and hope that sports come to follow.”
There are a couple of memorable experiences Washington had as a freshman.

“I think my biggest accomplishment of freshman year was running the 500m indoors,” she said. “It’s something I have never done before and that’s a accomplishment in itself. I got to experience a lot. I think one of the most memorable moments is when I was at Tiffin University watching the girls 4×4 run, and I know a lot of people think you shouldn’t cheer on your competition, but I was screaming my lungs out. I watch every single leg of their 4×4 give their all. After each girl was finished, they laid there dead and didn’t have anything more, and that is something I’ll never forget.”

But everything changed when the coronavirus hit.

“When COVID hit, it was a scary thing for everyone. Even though I was upset about our outdoor season, I was more concerned about my loved ones and the rest of the world,” she said. “When I went home, I was sure to educate myself on the virus and how I could change my daily schedule, even home routines to accommodate the virus. This led to a lot of independent running and activities at home. Which I thought was very enjoyable, it brought self-awareness and reflection.

“Now that we are back in school, things are very different, the world is quite different. I never thought there would be a time where a mask was essential to go outside. But everyone is adapting to it and following the rules and guidelines, so we can continue to, most importantly, stay healthy, go to school and play sports.”

Several things made Washington decide to attend Alderson Broaddus.

“I spoke to a coach named Jessie Wiener throughout my senior year, and he was very consistent,” she said. “After a 400 race, my best one of the year, he came up to me as I haven’t even got off the track yet and said, “We want you,” and little did I know, I wanted to be there just as much. Alderson Broaddus is also a very big on education and success. When I was given a scholarship to run, I looked more into the school and found out they provided private tutors for free through a program called ACES. This caught my attention, knowing I could get extra help going in to classes if I needed it.

“Alderson Broaddus runs an organization called Student Government Association. This is a council of advised student selected by the student body, then given positions to budget for other school organizations and activities, plan social events, work on old and make new policies and make sure student voice are heard. This organization has taught me a little bit about what all it takes to run a school system and budget for one, as well. I have made many new friends and am so excited to be on the senate this year again.”

Washington said Philippi is different from Morgantown.

“Philippi is a smaller community where people really keep to themselves, but is always there to lend a helping hand,” she said. “Morgantown is more city-like and it’s hard to provide to everyone because so. Morgantown’s population also consist of a Division I university, as well. Philippi is a lot more quiet and calm, while Morgantown always has something going on and noise. While Morgantown will always be my hometown, I am definitely more of a small town girl. I love to look out the window everyday and look at the beauty of West Virginia without all of the noise.”

The transition from high school to college was challenging at first for Washington.

“The transition from high school to college was nerve-racking but exciting,” she said. “I am always up to new challenges and this was definitely one. It took me a while to get the hang of how college professors graded and tested. High school is a lot different with a lot more guidance. College is the first time you really step into the new world by yourself, which takes a lot of responsibility. College professors don’t make class mandatory, so the responsibility is on you to succeed or fail. Being on your own also takes a lot of time management, which includes making a schedule for yourself. Not just with school, but other things such as laundry, trash and even setting times to go eat.”

Washington is majoring in business administration with a minor in legal studies.

“After graduation, I want to use my business and legal studies degree to become a lawyer,” she said. “The goal is to attend the University of Tennessee School of Law and become a corporate lawyer.”

Washington enjoys doing several activities in her spare time.

“I like to run, paint and do outdoor activities, such as fishing, riding razor (side-by-sides), sitting by a fire and kayaking.”

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