There was one state track triple jump championship.
Then there were two IHSA titles.
So LaJarvia Brown, a senior-to-be for the Alton Redbirds, is now on a collision course with state and school history. The 5-foot-3, 120-pound dynamo, selected as The AdVantage News’ Girls' Track Athlete of the Year, has begun to aim for a three-peat next May at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. No trackster in AHS annals has won three consecutive state titles in the same event.
Yet it’s within Brown’s grasp. Or leap, to be more accurate.
“ If LaJarvia wins it again next year, I really don’t know where you would go with that,” AHS coach Terry Mitchell said. “You’d have to say she’s the greatest Alton High track athlete ever.”
She’s also the only female track athlete to win a state title, and Brown remains intent on repeating her success. It’s that competitive spirit that drives her to greater heights and distances.
“ I’m motivated to win it three times,” Brown said, looking ahead to 2016. “I really want to end my senior year with a bang.”
Thus far, she has been nothing short of pure dynamite, and sometimes that big explosion comes in small packages.
Last month, Brown leaped 41 feet, 2 inches to reign in the Class 3A triple jump at EIU’s O’Brien Stadium. She won it in 2014 by going 40-3.5. However, there was more to it this time.
Brown also finished fifth in the 300-meter low hurdles at 44.31 second and sixth in the long jump at 18-3 to account for 19 of Alton’s 24.5 points. The Redbirds finished eighth at state, their best showing in school history.
“ It was the best team effort we’ve had and we were all very happy with that,” Brown said. “We wanted to finish in the top 10 and we did that.”
She added, “We showed we aren’t just a one-person team.”
Of course, Brown led the charge and claimed a second state championship in validating her first one even more.
“ The second one proved to me (and others) that the first one wasn’t a fluke,” she said. “What you did last year…was last year. It can fade away, so I took a lot of satisfaction in winning it again.”
Mitchell said anything that Brown accomplishes doesn’t surprise him. He saw her leap an all-time Illinois best 41-6.25 earlier this season. Brown then soared 41-6.75 in the triple jump during the recent AAU Midwest Nationals in Las Cruces, N.M. She also leaped 19-2.5 — a personal best — in the long jump. Brown competed in the heptathlon in New Mexico and made her mark. It’s no wonder she’s getting plenty of attention from college recruiters.
“ I haven’t narrowed my list of schools yet,” said Brown, seeking to study physical therapy. "I know I want to go somewhere with warm weather, like the south, for college. In the fall, I’ll probably narrow the list of schools to my top five.”
Come fall, she will be running cross country instead of playing volleyball. Then it’s on to basketball in the winter, where Brown will serve as the centerpiece for the Redbirds’ basketball team. This summer, there’s more regional and national competition for Brown, a member of the St. Louis Ultimate Speed Academy.
“ LaJarvia had an outstanding season this spring and I saw improvement on pretty much everything she did,” Mitchell said. “She picked up the 300-meter low hurdles this season and did great in them. I know she can high jump, too, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on her.”
If anything, Brown appears to thrive when everything is on the line. Brown seems at her best under pressure.
“ She’s a competitor and as good of one as I’ve ever coached,” said Mitchell, who has guided the AHS girls’ program since 1995. “She focuses on what she needs to do and she stays there.
“ LaJarvia doesn’t get distracted.”
Perhaps it’s because Brown follows her own advice.
“ Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” she said.
Brown is proving that talent, plus hard work, can take you to special places.