If you’re going to make All-Catholic in track, you better be fast.
Jenna Clarency sure was, but she also owes an assist to mom, who drove fast to make sure her daughter could rack up the medals.
Clarency is a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, and during the morning at the All-Catholic championships, she took second in the 300-meter hurdles. In the afternoon, she was on a relay team that took second in the 4×400-meter relay.
In between, she wasn’t relaxing or focusing on her next race.
Instead, she stayed on her toes. Literally.
“The competition was at La Salle, and in between races, I went to a dance competition,” said Clarency, who competes in Irish dance for the Pride of Erin School of Irish Dance. “The competition was 16 minutes away, so we timed it perfectly. My mom drove. I got to the competition, changed into my dress, threw my shoes on, did my two dances and drove 16 minutes back.
“I danced at the end. It worked out perfectly. I had to rush, but it was great. I really wanted to do both, and it worked out that I could.”
It couldn’t have been a better day for Clarency.
She took second place in both races, including the relay, running with teammates Chelsea Ritter, Anna Lombardi and Alana Verello, took third place in the high jump and also placed third in both of her dances, a reel and a jig.
“I was really happy, everything was great,” said Clarency, who lives in Parkwood. “I wasn’t too nervous, I was a little nervous when I woke up to start, but once I started doing it, I was just trying to focus on the race. It was fun going from place to place. I just had to get dressed quickly, I didn’t really have time to be nervous.
“Track has been a lot of fun, and it was good to get All-Catholic, that was definitely one of my goals this year. It felt really good to have a good day. This year was really good for all of us. It was just nice to run and compete again.”
It’s also nice to compete in Irish dancing, something she’s been doing for as long as she can remember.
“I started when I was 3,” Clarency said. “I really like doing it. My sister (Meghan) did it, so I started doing it. She’s one of our teachers now when she has time to get there. I’m really not sure why we started doing it. We are Irish. It’s fun, when you get older, it’s not as competitive. You just do it for fun, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
“It helps me with track, too, it definitely makes my legs stronger. This is probably my last year doing it, so I’m glad I was able to compete.”
Clarency has been busy all year, but it hasn’t been a normal year.
She’s the co-president of the community service corps, and the group is always looking for ways to serve the community. But it hasn’t been easy this year.
“This year has been really tough with COVID,” Clarency said. “We’ve tried to do so many things, and we just can’t do it. We would do a lot of things with grade schools, but because everyone is hybrid and we can’t do anything. We’ve tried to do a lot of things, it’s just been hard. We were able to make gift bags for kids. So we have done some things.”
She’s been busy in other ways, too.
Every Tuesday, she follows in her sister’s footsteps.
“I teach a class every week for the younger kids,” Clarency said. “It’s fun, the older kids who are there really try hard. The younger kids, I just try to keep them focused and make sure they have fun. I try to do fun games for them. They seem to like it. It’s fun for me, too.”
Also great experience.
Next year, Clarency is going to continue her track career at Gwynedd Mercy, where she will major in elementary education and special education. Her hope is to be a teacher someday, and she’s getting some great experience now.
“My mom runs almost like a preschool out of her house and I help her,” Clarency said. “It’s my five younger cousins. It’s fun, I play with them, and watch them. I’ve always liked being around kids and helping them, that’s why being a teacher is something I really wanted to do.
“Gwynedd Mercy, I love. I love the campus, I fell in love with it. And I really like the track coach. It’s got a great (education program), that’s very important to me. It had everything I wanted.”
Just as senior year has been all she wanted and more.
“It’s been great, I’m glad I had this chance to make All-Catholic and have another year with my team,” said Clarency, who also competed in indoor track and played soccer during her freshman year. “It felt good to be All-Catholic and it was a fun day. A lot of running around.”