Makiya Montgomery never has been afraid to get physical.

Well before she became one of central Ohio's top girls track and field athletes, the Beechcroft senior often would play football with one of her siblings.

"I had never run track before high school," Montgomery said. "I wanted to play football and my mom was like, 'No, you're not playing football.' Mostly, I just played football with the boys, but I didn't do any other sports. It was just something that took my interest, but my mom kept telling me to do something else."

When posed with the opportunity to compete in track as a freshman, Montgomery got serious in the classroom. By the end of her junior year, she had won three state championships and had put her future as a college student-athlete together.

"I was supposed to run in middle school, but I never had the grades," Montgomery said. "I was on academic probation, but then I was on the honor roll for the rest of (my freshman) year. I never got to run track before high school, so when I finally got the opportunity and got past the academic probation, track gave me motivation. I like new things and I tried it and everybody was like, 'You're great at it and should continue to run.' Eventually, it was something I fell in love with."

Montgomery, according to Cougars coach Mike Moncrief, was on course for a memorable finish to her prep career before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the spring sports season.

"Everything happens for a reason," Montgomery said. "(My teammates and I) talk every day because we had relationships before Beechcroft. They're like my sisters."

Last spring in the Division II state meet, Montgomery won championships in the 100 meters (11.97 seconds) and 200 (24.12) and was on the third-place 800 relay with current-senior Zha'Mia Vick, 2019 graduate Larissa Bronte-Agbor and current-junior Amara Allen (1:43.7) and the 13th-place 400 relay with Vick, current-sophomore Fatmata Barrie and Bronte-Agbor (50.14).

Beechcroft had moved up to Division I this season, setting up what would have been a new challenge for Montgomery and her teammates once they reached the postseason.

"She has always wanted to be great," Moncrief said. "She's a sponge for information. When Makiya can get tips or nuggets of information that will help her, you have her full attention, no questions asked. That's what made her a quick learner."

Montgomery won the state title in the 100 as a freshman and placed second in that event as a sophomore. She also was state runner-up in the 200 in both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

"Makiya is one of the most competitive individuals I have ever coached," Moncrief said. "Makiya hates to lose. Makiya is also a very introverted kid. You would never guess that by the way she runs. ... She was not satisfied until she got on top of the podium at the state finals. One thing that people really need to know is that Makiya is one of the most humble young adults. You could be in a room full of young adults and you would never know that she was a three-time state champion."

Before Gov. Mike DeWine issued a stay-at-home order, Montgomery took her official visit to Ohio State with Westerville Central senior Mabinty Kebe, who won the Division I state title in the 300 hurdles last spring.

Both Montgomery and Kebe are members of the Buckeyes' 2020 recruiting class.

"It was exciting and it felt like a big relief because (signing with Ohio State) was something I've been waiting for," Montgomery said. "For it to finally happen, it felt great. I'm ready for a new chapter."

Montgomery, who hasn't decided on a college major but has been considering studying to become a veterinarian, has been staying as busy as possible during the pandemic.

She figures to join a Buckeyes sprint corps that includes 2019 Pickerington Central graduate Jaydan Wood, who won the past two Division I state titles in the 400.

"I've basically been doing certain workouts on certain days," Montgomery said. "On Monday, I'd do a certain amount of jumping jacks. Then on Tuesday, I'd do a whole different workout. Sometimes I'll go for a jog on a path by my house.

"I think the 200 is my best event, but state titles are state titles, so I'll take them both equally. When it's in the season, I'm focused on what I'm doing and I'm not worried about anything else, but lately I've been looking (ahead to running for Ohio State)."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek