DeKALB – Last month, Jasmine Brown became the first DeKalb High School female athlete to win an individual title in the girls’ state track meet when she captured the Class 3A triple jump (39-11.75).
“My goal was to jump 40 feet,” the DHS senior, who also took third in the long jump, said with a laugh. “I got as close as you can get without hitting it.”
Brown, who grew up in Rock Island, moved to DeKalb at the start of her eighth grade year in 2008. At the advice of her middle school track coach, Brown began the triple jump, which is now her favorite event. She also ran in sprint relays.
No stranger to the annual state meet in Charleston, Brown placed fifth in the triple jump her freshman year and fourth last year. She also was a member of the Lady Barbs’ 4-x200-meter relay team, which took eighth her freshman year.
“She is very self-motivated,” DHS jumping coach Chuck Schramm said. “She loves to practice.”
Brown, who intends to study physical therapy at Western Illinois University on a track scholarship, talked about her feat recently with MidWeek reporter Doug Oleson.
MidWeek: How did you get started in track?
Jasmine Brown: I started playing soccer when I was really young. The coach told me I was fast and should go out for track, but I didn’t know any track clubs or anything. When I started seventh grade, I only wanted to sprint, but Mr. Gay had me try out jumping. I was really good at it, so I stuck to it.
MW: Do you play other sports?
JB: I tried cross country in middle school and a little in high school.
MW: The triple jump is a rather unique event. Your coach calls it “an exciting event once people take a look at it.” How does one get started in it?
JB: It’s actually kind of a funny story. Mr. Gay had some cones set up and he was telling us to jump from this cone to this cone to that cone, and to alternate feet. He was trying to teach people to triple jump. He told me to jump over one of the cones and I jumped past the second cone. He said, “You’re supposed to jump once.” And I went, “I did jump once.” And he goes, “Yep, you’re a triple jumper.”
MW: Do you like the triple jump?
JB: It’s my favorite event. It’s just fun and I’m good at it.
MW: How were you rated going into the state meet?
JB: I was seeded first. I came out exactly how I was seeded.
MW: Did that put extra pressure on you?
JB: I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to be the person seeded first who boshes all their jumps. But I also had confidence going in because I had almost a foot over the second place competitor.
MW: Since you had a chance to win state, did you enjoy the regular season or did you just want to get it over with so you could go to the state meet?
JB: I really enjoyed the season. We had some meets rained out and I was a little disappointed because it was my senior year and I just wanted to compete. I love being around the track. I love track meets, the whole air about it. I like the way you can socialize. It’s not like a game where you’re just sitting. You can cheer on different events. You can go to different events. It’s really laid back.
MW: Does the title mean more to you since you’re a senior and this was your last high school meet?
JB: It’s like the icing on the cake, going out with a bang.
MW: So where do you go from here?
JB: I’m going to try to compete in the national meet this summer in Greensboro, and just keep training with U.S.A.T.F. I have qualified and we’re making plans now to go.
MW: Any last thoughts about being the first DeKalb girl to win a state track title?
JB: I’m really happy with it. I can’t really explain it. It’s a good feeling. I am really honored to lead the way and hope that people on the team will see that and train harder and come to practice every day.
MW: I’m sure your coach was pleased.
JB: My coach really worked with me a lot. He is married to the job.
MW: Having placed at state twice before, I imagine you had pretty high hopes going into this season.
JB: I was hoping (to win). ...My best jump last year was 38-2. It’s a good jump, but it’s more at the lower level.
MW: What were the conditions like that weekend?
JB: They were pretty perfect. It wasn’t windy. It was kind of cool, but not too cool, not too hot.
MW: How does the state tournament work?
JB: The top 12 on Friday go to the finals on Saturday, where the top nine place. ...You get three jumps in the prelims and three in the finals.
MW: Do only the Saturday jumps count, or do they take the best jumps over the whole weekend?
JB: All your best jumps (from Friday) carry over.
MW: So how did it go?
JB: Friday is when I had my big jumps. I was a foot over (the second place person). Saturday is when I could focus on going for 40 feet. I’m the type of person who likes to set goals. I was so close to 40. ...But I was happy I won. I worked really hard.
MW Did jumping the two events in the same day wear on you at all?
JB: Not too much. I felt a little tired going from long to triple on Saturday because I had to wait in the sun and go to the awards stand and then I had to come over and they were already starting the run-throughs (for triple jump). I didn’t really get a chance to sit down, but that’s what they train you for.
MW: Since the long jump went first, were you hoping to get that over with so you could focus on the triple jump?
JB: No, not really. I was kind of hoping to win the long jump. I like them both equally, so I was just happy to compete.