Jaide Stepter saved her best for last.
In her final appearance as a Dorado, the Canyon Del Oro senior captured three titles at the Division II state track and field competition, and in the process, beat her own state record in the 300-meter low hurdles.
Less than two months ago at the 72nd Chandler Invitational, Stepter’s 300-hurdle time of 42.18 seconds beat the previous state record of 42.67, but for Stepter, complacency was never an option.
“I want to try and break the record again,” she said at the time. “My ambitions won’t stop halfway through the season.”
And they sure didn’t.
Stepter backed up her words on Saturday by besting her previous hurdle record with a time of 42.01.
“It’s really cool to be able to go out like this,” said Stepter, who will be attending the University of Southern California next year on a track scholarship. “I was so excited, and it was great to see everyone in the stands clapping for me. It’s great to know that I have fans throughout Arizona.”
Stepter’s work didn’t end with the record, as she also took down titles in the girls’ 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.43, and in the long jump, going for 19 feet, 3 inches. Stepter’s natural athletic abilities were showcased with her long jump win, as she has only been seriously competing in the event for about five weeks.
“I begged the coaches to let me try it,” said Stepter. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never was really given a chance to.”
Stepter’s only defeat on Saturday was by a slim margin. She placed second in the 200-meter dash to Salpointe Catholic’s Michaela Crunkleton-Wilson, who finished the race with a time of 24.50.
Stepter’s mother and coach, Latanya Sheffield, said seeing Jaide’s development as an athlete over the years has been a joy to watch, and she is proud to see Jaide go out on a high note.
“Really, what an ending,” she said. “If you’re going to go out, shut the door and lock it. I was very impressed with her performance, and she attempted a feat that few athletes are able to by attempting four individual events and seeking a win in all four. It was incredible as a coach to watch. It’s amazing to see that tenacity in any athlete, but for it to be your own daughter, it’s even more amazing.”
Sheffield said she expects Jaide to carry the lessons learned with her into USC’s track and academic programs.
“As she progressed through the meet, I could see the colors of her uniform changing from CDO colors to USC colors,” said Sheffield. “I do believe it’s going to be an adjustment, but I am hopeful with all the different experiences she has been faced with and witness to, she will be prepared for what is coming next.”
CDO finished second overall as a team, falling only to Salpointe Catholic High School, 85-72.
300 meter hurdles - 42.01
100 meter hurdles - 14.43
Long Jump - 19 feet, 3 inches