* Maira Scott was Ohio's top sprinter this past outdoor season -- she also blossomed into a national-level star
Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit
"Her biggest strength is her power. I saw it when she first came out. She has a lot of power. But she wasn't using it in the way she should."
By Cory Mull - MileSplit
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What's a scholarship worth? Is it worth a five-hour commute twice a week?
What if 10 hours a week of driving over the course of 10 months -- 400 hours on the road, which accounts to 16 full days -- turns you into a superstar?
What if 16 full days on the road lead you to your dream school?
Would you say it was all worth it?
Ask Maira Scott, because that's what the Holland Springfield (OH) senior has sacrificed since March, after she left her indoor season searching for more. She'll say that sacrifice helped her earn two outdoor state titles in Ohio and two massive individual personal records that are among the fastest times in Ohio history.
She found an independent club coach located in Bexley, Ohio, one who had worked with the likes of Justin Braun, Jayden Douglas and Aaliyah Barnes. Their work together has elevated Scott from being a pretty good athlete in Ohio to one of the best in the state's history.
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On Wednesday, she'll sign with her dream school, an NCAA Division I program that is among the best in the country.
"You put your heart and soul into what you love," Scott told MileSplit recently. "That's doing what you think you can do."
Scott will sign on the first day of the National Letter of Intent Period, which is Nov. 8, the National Signing Day for track and field athletes across the country. Her list is down to Ohio State, Tennessee, Southern California, Michigan and Texas Christian.
In June, after commuting from the Toledo area every week to the middle of the state to work with Tremayne Peppers, the head coach of the Ohio Heat club program, she saw all of her hard work materialize in the state's biggest prize, two outdoor state titles in the 100 and 200 meter races.
Scott ran 11.42 seconds in the final of the 100m and 23.20 in the 200m, both wind-legal times.
Those were incredible performances -- and for many reasons. Not only were they tops in state for the 2023 season, but Scott was only three hundredths of a second shy of Abby Steiner's all-time record in the 100m (11.38) and 0.47 seconds shy of her mark in the 200m (22.73).
"She's one of those kids," Peppers said. "I think she'll run 11.2 this year. But I also think she'll break the state record in the 200m."
A year earlier, she hadn't broken 12 seconds in the 100m or 24 in the 200m. Then came her first big setback. She was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture of her left hip bone, which impacted her indoor season.
Scott recovered, then finished third in the 60m (7.57) and second in the 200m (24.42) at states in March, on just two weeks of training.
She and her mother, Megan Scott, found Peppers shortly after indoors. They knew Justin Braun, the state's top sprinter from 2022 -- and an all-timer who had matriculated to the University of Southern California -- had worked with Peppers previously at Ohio Heat.
"Initially, I gave her some tips and ideas of what she should be doing, versus what she shouldn't be doing," Peppers told MileSplit.
Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit
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"I watched her, saw some things that could be fixed. I talked to her about the way we train, and then I invited her to join us. They decided to do it."
Scott, 17, was previously a cheerleader. But her athletic history was made for sprinting, especially the quick bursts of explosion.
Still, she and her family had to make a big decision. Ten hours a week on the road was no joke.
Her father was a college football player and her mother a former high school volleyball player. Maira's brother, William, was also a three-sport athlete at Springfield, too. If that's what it took, they thought.
Scott joined a group that included Olivia Pace, also one of Ohio's top sprint recruits in the Class of 2024.
Peppers worked with Scott on mechanical areas, but the focus during their time was sprint-focused -- Peppers cut away any evergreen content; no over distance, no long intervals.
"Her biggest strength is her power," Peppers said. "I saw it when she first came out. She has a lot of power. But she wasn't using it in the way she should."
Schools had been interested in Scott after her sophomore year. She said she received letters from Tennessee, Ohio State and TCU. She even flew to Fort Worth to go on an unofficial visit to TCU.
But the proverbial shift started to take place in May. Scott ran 23.82 for 200m in her first meet, then dropped her performances to 11.69 and 23.49 at districts. A couple weeks later, she exploded at the state championships.
Then everyone started hitting her up. "Mostly through Instagram," she said. "I would say a lot of calls came, but we filtered them through Tremayne, too."
Peppers, 48, had been through it before. He first got into coaching 20 years ago because of his daughter. "I used to watch the way my daughter's team training, and it didn't make sense to me," he said.
He later went to coaching clinics in Florida and New York. He started a track club, and Barnes and his daughter were among his first athletes. He said he loved the way current Georgia coach Caryl Smith Gilbert trained her athletes. "I love what she does," he said. "I intertwine what I do with what she does, a lot of plyometrics and power development."
Over the last 10 years, he's built relationships with college programs in the U.S., from Ohio State to Cincinnati to Southern California and Georgia. Peppers is often a person his athletes can trust when it comes to determining a future home.
Scott says she trusts Peppers immensely; that she even wants him to be at her wedding someday. It was natural she trusted Peppers on the recruiting part of her journey.
"We were just hearing from way more people," Scott said.
"What I was looking for, ultimately, was trust," she added. "I really wanted to look for that in my college team and my future coaches. Just knowing it was going to be a home for me, I wanted it to be a positive experience. I know there will be ups and downs and no road to success is easy, but having a stable group of people who are uplifting and push each other and drive for the same achievements, that was what I looked for."
Scott decided on her collegiate home sometime last week, she said. She will reveal the decision on Nov. 8.
But there's still two monumental seasons ahead.
Naturally, she will be eying up a few things as she closes off her high school career.
There's the indoor titles she didn't win a year ago, of course, but also state records of 7.36 in the 60m and 23.51 in the 200m, both owned by Steiner.
Outdoors, there are two more titles up for grabs in the 100m and 200m, and, guess what, two outdoor state records owned by Steiner.
The comparisons have been made of the two, perhaps shortly after Scott had a breathtaking performance at the state championships last June.
Scott is aware, and she embraces some of those pressures.
"A big part of why I fell in love with track and field was because of her," Scott said. "I started looking into her career and I would watch her videos. Being a girl from Ohio and a sprinter, there's that narrative that I want to be just like her. I see it as, 'I want to do Abby Steiner things.' It's not being just like her, but doing amazing things like her."
Peppers agreed with that sentiment.
"I do love the comparisons in terms of what Abby Steiner meant to track and field in Ohio,'' he said. ''She was one of the top kids in the country. She was the inspiration to a lot of kids after her. But Maira, I believe she has a chance to be as good as Abby. She will do great things."
Photo Credit: Shawn Conlon/MileSplit