The preseason has ended for Jalen Wells.
That was clear from his performance May 4 in the Gary Smith Invitational.
The junior for the host Thomas Worthington High School boys track and field team won the 100 meters (11.01 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (39.57) as he ran with an eye on the approaching postseason.
"This is the time of year that you have to buckle down," Wells said.
"When we took our overnight trip (for the Comet Relays on April 27 at Amherst Steele) and then (the Gary Smith Invitational) comes around, that's when you know you have to be ready. You have OCCs (next week) and then the district, regional and state (meets)."
Thomas finished sixth (65.5 points) behind champion Solon (180) in the 16-team Gary Smith Invitational.
Wells also anchored the second-place 800 relay (1:30.58) with junior Akwasi Boeham, junior Malyk Burks and senior Tyrin Franklin, and the fourth-place 400 relay (43.94) with Franklin, junior Ben Fenker and Boeham.
"I wish my start would have been a little better (in the 100), but that will come," Wells said. "The start is everything in the 100. I know I can get better.
"I have to practice coming out of the blocks. The more reps you do, the better you'll be. I've been doing well. I'm ahead of where I was last year."
Last year, Wells placed seventh in the 300 hurdles (39.08) in the Division I state meet and was a member of the first-place 1,600 relay (3:15.41) with 2012 graduates Armand Austin, Nana Kyeremeh and Andrew Maetzold.
His top time in the 300 hurdles is a program-record 38.32 set at district last year. His best time this season was a 38.8 in the preliminaries of the Gary Smith Invitational. He had a 10.96 last season for his best time in the 100 and his 11.01 last weekend is his top time this spring.
"Jalen is like our utility man," coach Dominick Mazza said. "He's been a strong runner for us from his freshman year on.
"We have Jalen, like most of our runners, training in the 400 because that builds strength for other events. In order to run a good 200, you have to be able to run a good 400. If you train that way, you can run multiple events."
Wells ran a partial indoor schedule over the winter because of a right hamstring injury.
"I only did about a half season of indoor (track) because my hamstring was acting up," he said.
"I just have to stretch it out a lot and I have a roller that I go over it with to massage it. Those things help."
Going into the Gary Smith Invitational, Mazza said Wells had the state's fifth-best 300 hurdles time with a 39.18, which also topped the central Ohio honor roll from April 29. His best time has since dropped to the 38.8 with his effort in the Gary Smith preliminaries.
"(Assistant) coach Matt Kwiatkowski has been working with Jalen and Tyrin Franklin on their technique and they have been making great strides," Mazza said. "We want to be able to (have) Jalen (advance) in both the 300 hurdles and the 100 (in the postseason). With our training, we expect to see a drop (in his times)."
After the OCC-Central Division meet May 16 and 18 at home, Wells' goal is getting back to state but doing more than reaching the podium.
"I'd like to come back this year with at least one state title," he said. "I'd like to get that individual title to prove that I can do it.
"I'm a very competitive person in everything I do. I like track because it's easy to tell who is the best. Times don't lie."