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Alton High School senior LaJarvia Brown is draped in the American flag during ceremonies at the International Association of Athletic Federations World Youth Track Championship in Cali, Colombia.
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Photo by Image of Sport
Alton High School senior LaJarvia Brown jumped a personal best 41 feet, 9 inches at Cali, Colombia, during the International Association of Athletic Federations World Youth Track Championship. The jump was second-best among U.S. competitors and 14th internationally.
LaJarvia Brown’s Wonderful World Track Tour has kicked into another stage. It’s jumping back to the United States.
The Alton High senior, a two-time Class 3A IHSA girls’ triple jump champion, just finished a whirlwind excursion to South America. Now, Brown is participating in the AAU Junior Olympic Games at Norfolk, Va. The national event, which starts Saturday, runs through Aug. 8.
She’s competing in the triple jump, long jump and as an anchor runner for a 4x100-meter relay team. Brown, a member of the Ultimate Speed Academy of St. Louis, is confident of making her mark in Virginia, just like she did in Illinois, New Mexico and South America.
“I think I can do it,” she said of contending for a triple jump championship. “It has helped me a lot mentally knowing that I’m one of the best triple jumpers in the world.”
Her personal-best jump of 41 feet, 9 inches at Cali, Colombia, during the International Association of Athletic Federations World Youth Track Championship was second-best among U.S. competitors and 14th internationally. Brown jumped 41-6.75 at the AAU Midwest Regional in Las Cruces, N.M., two months ago.
“It has topped everything she has done,” Alton High girls’ track coach Terry Mitchell said of Brown’s work in Cali. A report indicated that she had leaped more than 42 feet, but that was inaccurate. Brown finished three inches shy of qualifying for the finals, even though she jumped the best of her career.
Mitchell added, “LaJarvia saw the best competition in the world there. It was pretty much like the Olympics.
“There’s a bigger world out there.”
Brown labeled it an eye-opening experience.
“It was the first time I was on a plane, the first time I went out of the country,” she said. “It was a great honor and accomplishment to compete and by far, it was the best experience of the things I have done.
“There’s nothing even close to it.”
The pageantry of the major event and the ability to mingle with some of the world’s best athletes impressed Brown and left an indelible impression on her. She also served as an alternate for heptathlon competition, but didn’t get to compete in it.
“Everybody was nice, the people were very friendly and they treated us like celebrities. It was crazy,” she said. “I really can’t single out one thing that was the best part of it. We even had a sight-seeing trip into the mountains. Overall, it was a little overwhelming, but I thought I handled it well.”
Mitchell pointed out, “She will grow from this and I’m hoping she still has a better jump in her. LaJarvia has already improved a lot since she won the state meet in May. I think the AAU Nationals will be a good test for her.”
It’s one step at a time, Brown said. She has always kept that focus in maintaining a steady equilibrium. Once she’s done with the summer, there’s cross country this fall and basketball in the winter.
Come next spring, Brown will attempt to become the first AHS trackster to win three individual state championships. She’s the lone girls’ track athlete to win one IHSA title and just a handful of guys have won two. The last one to do it was Larry Perry in the long jump (1974-75).
“My goal is to make the Olympic Trials some day because I want to be an Olympian,” said the 5-foot-3, 120-pound Brown, a Jackie Joyner-Kersee admirer. Her Colombian trek set her in motion as an athlete to watch when the 2016 Olympics unfold in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 2020 Games are in Tokyo, Japan.
Naturally, she would embrace another trip to South America.
“It was a great experience,” Brown said. “I was there for 11 days and I loved everything about it.”
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