She competed at the state track and field meet last year.

Of course, Aiamiya Dudley didn’t wear the black and gold colors during her stay in Columbus.

This year, the standout junior middle-distance runner decided to see what the Division I competition was like after transferring to Cuyahoga Falls.

The Black Tigers are certainly glad she did.

Dudley placed ninth in the 800-meter race with a time of 2 minutes, 11.8 seconds at the state meet, which concluded last Saturday at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Dudley reached the Division II state meet the previous year as a member of the Wintersville Indian Creek track and field team.

On Saturday, Dudley was less than 0.4 away from reaching the podium. Nonetheless, her time was nearly three seconds faster than her school-record clocking of 2:14.85 at the previous week’s regional meet at Austintown-Fitch High School.

"Aiamiya had an awesome race," Falls head coach Dan Scourfield said. "It went exactly how Aiamiya and (Falls’ assistant coach) Stuart (Davis) drew it up.

"She got out quickly with the leaders. She was in that group the whole way until she got boxed in with about 275 meters to go. I don’t think it knocked her off stride. It kind of made her feel a little uncomfortable.

"She was able to get outside the last 150 meters. She leaned in at the finish line for all it was worth."

If there were any signs of butterflies, Scourfield saw no traces of them.

"She ran with no fear," he said. "She ran like she had been there before."

Dudley also was the anchor of the 800 relay team that placed 14th in 1:44.71 on Friday during the preliminaries.

Joining her were sophomores Jenai Blake, Grace Lowe and Emma Brustoski.

"There was a three-hour weather delay that didn’t help anybody," Scourfield said. "They handled it pretty well. You live and die with the passes. We only got one really good pass."

The four talented runners had been unflappable throughout the season. On Friday, they showed a small dose of vulnerability.

"I think the nerves got to them," Scourfield said. "They realized they were running in the state semifinals. They competed."

One of Scourfield’s gifted pupils savored every moment of her experience.

"Grace led off and you could see the smile on her face when she made the turn," Scourfield said. "She had the time of her life. She said afterward that she had a blast."

In the end, though, the Black Tigers left the state capital without a trip to the podium. And that fact was not lost on Falls’ determined quartet.

"They were disappointed that they didn’t advance," Scourfield said. "They realized that they were running against the best of Ohio in Division I. They realized how fierce the competition was. They know they have some work to do."

Like one of his sophomores, Scourfield certainly enjoyed every second he spent at the state meet. This is the most pupils Scourfield has taken to the state meet since he joined the Black Tigers more than a decade ago.

"I thought it was fantastic," he said. "All of them are going to be back next year. If you go back the last three years, Aiamiya would have been on the podium. That’s how fast this field was.

"The 4x4 (1,600 relay) will be back and Grace will be long jumping. It’s a good time for Cuyahoga Falls girls track."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.