I can. I will. I must.
That’s the motto Louisa County High School senior Dahja Price takes with her to each of her track meets. And over the last few years, it’s helped her find success in several events and has earned her a trip to the Virginia High School League Class 4 state championship meet on March 2-3.
“She’s gaining confidence every year,” said Head Coach Jerry Cutright. “She’s always worked really hard and tried to improve herself and now that confidence is starting to come together with her hard work. We’re looking for a great state meet from her.”
Price began competing in track in sixth grade, running the hurdles for the middle school track team.
“I used to not like them, because I would fall, but my coach [Cutright] would tell me, ‘You’re really good. You should keep doing it,’”
Price eventually expanded the number of events she competed in, adding several short-distance track events and some field events like the high jump and long jump to her repertoire, competing in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
She continued to work and improve in her events, but it wasn’t until her sophomore season with the high school track team that things really started to click for her.
“It was like something from God saying, ‘You’ve got the talent, so show it,’” she recalled.
Price made it to the state championship meet in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons that year, and qualified for the New Balance National Indoor Track meet in the long jump during the indoor season.
“It was nerve-racking,” she said. “Sometimes, I don’t like having a lot of people watching me, but everyone was supportive in that environment. I liked the energy.”
Price has continued to find success with the track team, repeating as regional champion in the 55-meter dash and long jump events in her junior season of indoor track and winning the regional 100-meter dash race in the outdoor season. This year, she won both the 55-meter dash and 55-meter hurdles at the regional meet, setting meet records in both events.
When she gets up to the line to get ready to compete, Price tries not to let anything distract her.
“I say a prayer and I want to have a clear mind and just focus on that moment, regardless of what happened before,” she said. “I just want to be in that moment.”
In addition to the number of individual events she competes in, Price has also competed as part of the Lions’ 4x200 and 4x100 relay teams. The 4x200 relay team will race at the state meet next week.
“Some of the [members of the team] are new, but I know they have talent,” Price said. “We’ve been working hard with our hand-offs and our technique, and I believe we can cut seconds at states.”
The other event Price is excited to compete in at the state meet is the 55-meter hurdles. She ran in the state race last season, but fell during the finals and was unable to finish.
“After I fell, I was upset, and I was like ‘I’m never going to do hurdles again,’” she said. “But then I realized I have a talent and I’m going to do it. So I’m ready for anything at states.”
Price still has her final season of outdoor track ahead of her this spring, and she hopes to make the most of it.
“I want to enjoy the time I have left with the team and I’d like to break a school record and maybe earn a scholarship,” she said.
Price and the rest of the Lions’ track team will compete at the state meet on March 2-3 at Liberty University. Competition begins at 12:30 p.m. on March 2 and at 10:30 a.m. on March 3.