Smith Improving by Leaps and Bounds

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With one state championship already on his resume, Palmdale High senior Jamil Smith has his sights on a goal loftier than simply repeating as triple jump champion.

Already possessing a state-leading jump of 50-10 3/4, Smith is hoping to challenge the national scholastic record of 52-10 1/2 set by Charles Mayfield of Muir in 1980. Smith cleared the 50-foot mark two weeks ago at the Southern Section Division I finals, which moved him to third on the national list this year.

A two-foot improvement in such a short time is rare, but Smith believes competing against the best in the state will bring out his best.

"I really think it is a possibility," said Smith, who also qualified for the long jump with a wind-aided 23-8 1/4 in the section Masters Meet last Friday. "I think I have a one great jump in me. Every week I put a piece of tape down on a mark that I want to clear. [At the Division I meet] I put a tape at 51 and I cleared 50 feet. . . . This week I am going to put one down at 53."

Just because the soft-spoken, 5-9, 155-pounder is looking for a national record doesn't mean Smith is going to overlook his competition.

"I know there is some guys out there who can challenge me," said Smith, who is bound for Washington State. "Competing against the best is what makes me jump better. I have always done better in the big events."

To overcome poor competition and facilities at Golden League meets, Smith spent a lot of the season training at Antelope Valley College, where a better runway and pit gave Smith an idea of what to expect at the big events.

"There was really no one to push this year at dual meets," said Reggie Smith, Jamil's father and an assistant at Palmdale. "We trained all season for this time of year. Jamil knows what he needs to jump to get what he wants.

"I am not his father talking but his coach. . . . If his rhythm is right, he can challenge 53 feet."

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Smith showed he could handle tough competition in his junior season.

Before the section and state meets last year, Smith was trying to jump out of the shadow of former Littlerock standout Rodney Woods, the state leader last year before his season was cut short after being arrested for his involvement in a fight at a party.

Smith did not jump 48 feet during the regular season, saving his best for the state championships, where he jumped 49-10 3/4 in qualifying and 49-4 1/4 to capture the title.

Chris Morgan of Taft is the other defending state champion from the region competing in the boys' meet.

Morgan, who has signed with Arizona State, is the state leader in the 110-meter hurdles at 13.89 and is favored to win his second consecutive title.

He will run the second leg on the Toreadors' 400 relay that ran a state-leading 41.21 in the City Section championships last week, and also will compete in the 100 and the long jump.

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