expectations. In addition to being the defending Division I state champ in the 100 meters and
runner-up in the 400, Graham has added the 200 and long jump to her arsenal. The Michigan recruit is hoping to added some additional individual hardware and possibly a state team title come June.
Bowsher High School’s Meshawn Graham entered this season with high expectations. As the defending state champion in the 100 meters and runner-up in the 400, she knows that she is counted on to do well in both events again. For most athletes such pressure might be a distraction but for Graham it is additional motivation. Motivation, that mixed with support from her talented teammates, just might lead the Bowsher Lady Rebels to a state track championship.
The first thing one notices when meeting Graham is her stature. In a sport that is dominated by tall, lean athletes Graham is undersized. Standing only 5-5, Graham has never been bothered by the fact that she is usually looking up at most of her opponents.
“I am two different people on and off the track,” said Graham. “Very rarely am I intimidated by anyone’s size because I know that I have worked just as hard, if not harder. Size doesn’t really mean anything. I can pack some strong muscle. No, I am never intimidated. If anything, I think I am more the aggressor. I think people are more intimidated by me.”
Graham has already signed with the University of Michigan to continue her track career where for the first time since she was seven years old, she will not be coached by her father. Graham’s father, Mark, has been the driving force behind her success from the very beginning and she is quick to credit him.
“We are very close, “ said Graham. “It is going to be a big transition going to Michigan and not having him be my coach but I am very confident in the coach there, Coach Henry. I think that we made a good decision…I’m scared but confident at the same time.”
Defending her 100 state title and winning the 400 would not be a surprise, however, Graham is also a strong candidate to win the 200 and, recently established herself as a threat in the long jump as well. Two weeks ago, at the Mansfield Mehock Relays, Meshawn posted a distance of 18-2 in the long jump which is presently the third best distance achieved in the state this season. That feat raises the possibility that Graham could score as many as 40 points at the state track meet. That’s a possibility that Bowsher head track coach, Solomon Branch, thinks about often.
“In order for us to win state we will need those 40 points plus some other points that we can get from some of our freshmen plus the points from the shot and discuss from Ashley Harris (Bowsher senior Ashley Harris has posted state top 25 distances in both events),” Branch said. “We have a good chance to win state with Meshawn leading the way and everyone else going about their business.”
Graham is well aware that her team and coach are counting on her to lead them toward a possible state title but she is not bothered by the pressure.
“I think (a state title) is very realistic,” said Graham. “Last year I won the 100, was second in the 400 to Jessica Beard, and in the 200 I came up short with a hamstring pull. So, I think that it is doable. I think it can be achieved.”
It is obvious that confidence is a major factor in Graham’s success but it is not arrogance. Graham is an engaging and pleasant young lady who is able to express herself in a manner that is consistent with the fact that she enjoys a 3.5 grade point average in the classroom. Although some of her comments might, out of context, seem overstated, she has, so far, been able to back those comments up through her on track performances. As the season reaches its midpoint, Graham is undefeated in each of her major events and she intends to remain that way.
Commenting on Graham’s confidence, Branch was circumspect.
Said Branch: “I think that you kind of want everyone to be that way. In track, you have to train to make certain times but you have to be mentally strong. I’m pretty sure that she gets nervous like all top athletes but she handles it better than most. She is mentally as tough an athlete as anyone I have ever seen.”