Jalen Case, center, battles runners from Harper Creek and Lumen Christi Catholic high school during a meet Wednesday at Northwest High School. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
Northwest High School track and field Coach Brad Buter recently needed someone to help his 800-meter relay team.
He turned to runner Jalen Case to work with the other three participants on various aspects of setting up blocks, getting the handoffs correct and other key components of producing a successful relay team.
That kind of selflessness has helped Case – and other Mountie runners – look forward to good things this spring in track and field.
Case was a three-time medalist at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state track and field finals a year ago. The now-senior finished sixth in the 100-meter dash (11.34 seconds), sixth in the 200-meter dash (22.43), and was a member of the 800-meter relay team that finished seventh as a team.
But the runner finds happiness helping others learn and enjoy the sport of track and field. Case is currently working with the relay team and helping a special needs student to become a hurdler.
“I find happiness in putting other people before me,” Case said Wednesday prior to a home track and field meet against Harper Creek and Lumen Christi Catholic high schools. “It helps me work through my problems.”
Case said he has been mentored by his father, Vincent, and older brother, Darius. But sometimes it is that tough love from Darius that keeps him going.
At a basketball practice a couple of years ago his team was running “suicide drills” and Case was lacking behind.
“Darius stood up and chewed me out in front of the whole team,” Case said. “Both my brother and father push me to be a better athlete because they believe I can do it.”
That belief has led to Case working harder than most other athletes on the playing fields. A three-sport athlete, Case can be seen staying after practice on most days to work with other athletes and then practice his skills.
Last year was a breakout year for the track and field runner. The hard work must have paid off for Case.
“I really can’t tell you how he got so much better,” Buter said Thursday. “He just came on strong at the end of last year.”
Case may tell you his superstitions helped him earn all-state honors last season.
Case in point:
He has used the same track and field spikes since his freshman year. Darius gave him the spikes.
The relay team uses the same red baton for relays. If it is dropped, bad luck will follow.
And Case uses the same set of blocks for each race. He likes the feeling of knowing they are set for him and ready to go.
“We dropped the (red) baton last year and injuries and bad luck began to happen,” Case said with a smile.
The senior has goals to return to the state meet this spring. He would like to take more teammates this time.
“I think with motivation we can get more athletes to the state meet,” Case said. “Some people don’t believe it is possible … but I do.”
Case will start training in for the 400-meter dash in the coming weeks. Coach Buter believes he has a chance to do well in the event.
Don’t count him out.
School: Northwest High School senior.
Sports: Case played football, basketball and competes in track and field in the spring.
Achievements: Case was the special teams MVP in football, most improved in basketball and is a three-time all-state track and field athlete.
Future: Case is looking at a number of local colleges to run track and field. He would like to study social psychology and become a therapist.
GPA: A 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
Best quote: “My brother (Darius) tells me I can do something and I believe it.”
Parents: Michelle and Vincent