Photo by Diane Cox
Hello, Texas. Goodbye, Illinois. The LaJarvia Brown Show is certifiably going national.
The next step for the incomparable Brown could be her biggest one yet.
Brown, a four-time IHSA girls’ track champion, including three consecutive victories in the Class 3A triple jump, is taking her talents to the next level. The 5-foot-3, 120-pound Brown is primed to compete for Southeastern Conference power Texas A&M.
“It’s really exciting and I’m starting to feel it,” said Brown, the AdVantage News Female Track Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive season.
She will be a freshman in College Station, Texas, this fall after rewriting the history of the Alton High girls’ track program. She scored 35 of the Redbirds’ 37 points in last month’s state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and helped the Redbirds finish second.
“I want to do the same things in college that I did in high school,” Brown 18, said of her remarkable prep career. She capped it May 21 with a memorable showing at EIU’s O’Brien Stadium and left her mark on state track and field history.
Brown added, “I gave it everything I had at state, so I feel good about it, although it all really hasn’t hit me yet. I don’t think it will have an impact on me until I’m older.
“But when I go around town in Alton, I can feel it.”
No doubt, the vibrations are strong. Brown won the triple jump for the third consecutive time, going an all-time state record 42 feet, 1.75 inches.
“She went out there on her last jump and made a great jump,” Alton coach Terry Mitchell said. Her previous best in any competition was 41-9 last summer.
Brown also won the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.89 seconds, finished second in the long jump at 19-2.5 and third in the 300-meter low hurdles at 43.47. Thus, she scored 10 points in the triple jump, 10 more in the high hurdles, 8 in the long jump and 7 in the low hurdles.
“I’m going to miss competing at the high school level, but I did what I wanted to do,” Brown said. “When I was competing as a freshman, I had no clue this would happen. By the end of my sophomore year, I started getting good.”
There are larger worlds to conquer and she’s prepared for it.
Perhaps there’s an Olympic tryout and Games in her future. This year’s Summer Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They unfold at Tokyo in 2020.
“My goal is to make it to the NCAA finals as a freshman,” Brown said.
And what about landing a spot on the U.S. team for those 2020 Games?
“That would be crazy,” she said, smiling.
Brown started her summer season the way she finished the spring one. Earlier this month, she recorded 4,975 points to finish first for Team Illinois in the women’s heptathlon during the 41st annual Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M.
Her gold medal-winning heptathlon (seven events) production included victories in the 100-meter hurdles (14.29) and the 200-meter dash (25.04), plus seconds in the high jump (5-4), the long jump (19-5) and the shot (32-5). She was fourth in the javelin (101 feet) and eighth in the 800-meters (2:30).
“It was the third time I competed there and overall, it was a pretty good experience and worth it,” Brown said of the competition on the University of New Mexico campus. “I didn’t expect to win it, but I expected to finish in the top three. I was third in the heptathlon last year, but this year I led the whole way.”
Now, she is eyeing the USATF Junior Olympics, set for this weekend in Clovis, Calif. The top U.S. finishers qualify for the World Junior Championships next month in Poland.
Mitchell, who is retiring after coaching the Redbirds for 21 years, has run out of superlatives in describing Brown, also a high-flying basketball player. She recently participated in the IBCA All-Star game at Pontiac.
“Words can’t begin to explain how she has impacted the Alton High sports program, especially girls’ track,” Mitchell said. “I believe she will go down in history as the greatest athlete at AHS.”
He knew the Redbirds would get Brown’s best in their successful quest to secure their first state trophy.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Mitchell said.
Brown proved that she was the true dream weaver.