Life is good for Alton High’s LaJarvia Brown these days. The two-time IHSA Class 3A girls’ triple jump champion and dynamic basketball player is striving for more of the same success in 2015-16.
No wonder. It’s her senior year and the 5-foot-3, 120-pounder wants to finish with a flourish on the big stage. She’s already done that in Charleston, Las Cruces, N.M., Norfolk, Va., and Cali, Colombia, so there are new worlds to conquer.
Or perhaps just reign wherever she goes. She has leaped 41 feet, 9 inches in the triple jump and gone 19-7 in the long jump. And she could better those marks this year.
Stay tuned. The girl with a big heart and legs of power figures to keep jumping for joy.
“It has all gone so fast,” Brown said of her prep career, notably the past spring and summer. “I just want to remain humble and keep going.”
Brown is already going strong this fall. Although she isn’t playing volleyball or running cross country, Brown is doing weight training and getting ready for the upcoming basketball season.
“I’m used to playing three sports since middle school, but track season lasted so long this year, I needed a break,” Brown said.
There will be no breaks after basketball season. Spring will follow and Brown intends to become the first AHS trackster to win three consecutive state individual titles. Several guys have done it twice, but never three successive times.
“I feel like I do well under pressure and I hate to lose,” Brown said.
You can’t go wrong with that attitude.
Some of the pressure now might be deciding where she wants to go to college next year. Brown, planning to major in physical therapy, has many of the big-name schools chasing her.
She won’t divulge the list or say what part of the country bests suits her style. However, if you think SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten, you can envision some of those major programs. Academics are primary on her list, too. Brown takes an honors class schedule at AHS, thus she’s a solid student.
“I’m going to take some official visits soon, but I’m going to keep it a secret until November,” Brown said.
You can expect her to go all over the country to fulfill her dream.
That’s basically what she has done the past four months. Brown won her second state triple jump championship at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and excelled in summer competition at Las Cruces, N.M., and Norfolk, Va. Brown snared long and triple jump championships in the AAU action at Norfolk.
In addition, she went with the USA team to the IAAF World Junior Championships in Colombia. The best of the best, so to speak.
“I enjoyed that trip the most because it was different and definitely boosted my self-esteem,” Brown said. “I got to compete against the top triple jumpers in the world and finished 14th.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I want to go back.”
She was second-best in South America among USA triple jumpers, stoking her desire to return for next summer’s competition. Brown, 17, would compete in a different age bracket if that happens, but that doesn’t matter. She’s carrying a load of confidence.
First things, first.
“My goal next spring is to get that third state title,” said Brown, owner of the all-time Illinois best 41-6.25 effort in the triple jump.
The all-time state best in the long jump could be within reach. Jackie Joyner-Kersee of East St. Louis Lincoln established it by going 20-9.5 in 1980. Just five female long jumpers in state history have cleared 20 feet.
“We’ll see what happens in the long jump,” Brown said of pursuing Joyner-Kersee’s record. “I’m shooting to go 43 feet in the triple jump.”
Don’t underestimate her. Brown learned the nuances of the 300-meter low hurdles last season and quickly converted that knowledge to place fifth at state. She also finished sixth in the long jump and scored 19 of Alton’s 24.5 points, good for an eighth-place team showing, best in school history.
Now you understand how Brown is living the good life. Frankly, it could only get better.
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