Wheaton North sophomore Chico Jackson is now a known quantity.
As a freshman in 2013 Jackson came out of nowhere at the Class 3A Glenbard North sectional, his first varsity meet, to qualify downstate in long jump with a third-place finish at 22 feet, 5¼ inches. He was the sole freshman competing in the Class 3A long jump preliminaries.
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Saturday at Wheaton North's Best Four invite Jackson continued where he left off, soaring 23-5¼.
"I came out here expecting first, but then again I knew I had a lot of competition so I just went at it," the dreadlocked sophomore said.
Competing in the top heats of the 100- and 200-meter dashes against more experienced sprinters such as Lake Park's Marcus Jegede, Glenbard West's Mohamed Gborie, Wheaton Warrenville South's Ben Jackson, Willowbrook's Dylan Jones and Naperville Central's Lawrence Jones, Jackson placed in the middle of the pack.
Jackson knows not only will his sprint training help fulfill his goals in long jump, he will never again sneak up on anyone.
"I want to be very versatile, but then again I want to achieve my main goal and that's jumping," Jackson said. "But I know that running the 200 and 100 is going to get me there. So, I'll work hard on practice on that as well. I love 200, then again strong competition motivates me more, so I feel good (racing) varsity athletes."
IC Catholic Prep freshman Jordan Rowell was the Knights' second-leading rusher in football, the first forward off the bench in basketball and is literally off to a fast start in varsity outdoor track.
In IC's first meet, April 5 at Harper College, Rowell won the 100-yard dash in a manually timed 10.9 seconds, won long jump and high jump, and finished second in the 200.
Last Tuesday at Timothy Christian Rowell won each of those events, going 22.7 in the 200. At Saturday's 10-team Riverside-Brookfield Relays Rowell captured the long jump, was second in high jump at 6-2 and placed second in the 100 at 11.03 on an automatic timing system.
Montini girls coach Pete Connelly, who saw Rowell run at both Harper and Riverside-Broofield and used to coach the Montini boys, called Rowell the strongest and fastest freshman he'd seen since Cahokia's Darien Donald.
"He's probably the best sprinter at IC since the younger (Joe) Mastrino," Connelly said. "If he can stay healthy and keep working he's going to tear up Class A sprints. That kid can move."
Connelly termed Rowell's abilities as "raw," and IC Catholic coach Bob Cronin said the key thing is teaching technique to a freshman he called "obviously gifted with great talent."
Cronin said Rowell is a ready student.
"He's willing to learn and he wants to learn because he knows it will make him better, and that's the type of young man he is," Cronin said.
The long and short of it:
Also at that coed meet at Harper College, Montini junior Maddy Jamrozek had a far-ranging triple. She ran both the 100 and the 1,600, finishing middle of the pack, and won long jump right ahead of teammate Gianna Salzbrunn.
At the 2013 Class 2A Fenwick sectional at Concordia University, the high jumpers who qualified for the state meet were Benet's Max Zinski, at 5-9, and Glenbard South's Jack Curtis at 6-1. Then sophomores, they moved on by finishing first and second, not by clearing the 6-3 standard.
Curtis, who reached just 6 feet at the state meet, appears to have left those marks in the dustbin. At indoor meets this winter he cleared 6-4 and 6-6. Saturday at Glenbard South's own Raider Open Curtis outdueled Thornwood's Demetrius Banks to win high jump at 6-9 to Banks' 6-5.
In another clean sweep, Curtis won the 100 ahead of Downers Grove North's Charlie Creamer, he won the 200, and anchored the Raiders' victorious 800 relay with Gabe Williams, Connor Willis and Ryan Hoffman.
Raiders coach Ronn Claussen said when Curtis cleared 6-6, they re-evaluated his goals.
"To hit 6-9 with the wind conditions Saturday was great," Claussen said. "He is a great competitor, a leader on our team and just an all-around great kid. He is having an exceptional year so far."
Another auspicious debut:
Lisle's first big meet, the Lions' own MegaMeet, was held Saturday at Lisle Junior High's Wilde Field, away from Benedictine University for the first time since last decade due to a scheduling conflict.
Lisle's usual training facility -- the state's first polyurethane track (1982) was resurfaced most recently two years ago -- must have made freshman sprinter Edoise Omoike feel quite comfortable.
She swept her three individual events. Omoike won the 100 in 13.13 seconds, took the 400 in 1:02.77 seconds and returned to win the 200-meter dash in 28.18 seconds. She also anchored a fifth-place 400 relay.
Kristen Mullin, a 2006 Lisle graduate in her first year as Lions girls coach, said as an eighth-grader Omoike won the 100-meter dash and was sixth in the 200 in the upper-level of the 2013 Illinois Elementary School Association. This is Omoike's first year in long jump.
Omoike has some height at 5-9, but Mullin caller her "our little rock star."
Mom knows best:
There were several reasons Glenbard West's Chris Buechner reached a personal best in the 1,600 at Wheaton North. Blowing away the goal of 4:40 offered by Hilltoppers distance coach Kurt Frazier, Buechner ran a 4:28.49.
Reasons included staying in the top pack with WW South's Luke Schroer and Nolan McKenna -- who won in 4:20.79 -- enhanced off-season training and improved nutrition.
"I hammered down on my training this year," said Buechner, a junior. "Last year I was riddled with injury and sickness, and I really took the time this year to make sure I took all the precautions, and I ate healthier. It wasn't necessarily bad before, but now I make an effort to make sure I get in enough produce every day, and I have smoothies every morning."
Buechner said the fruits and veggies make a difference.
"Yeah, I'd say so. My mom would definitely say so," he said.