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USC long jumper Adoree’ Jackson is within leaping distance of Olympic trials

 USC long jumper Adoree’ Jackson is within leaping distance of Olympic trials

USC sophomore Adoree’ Jackson competes in the men’s long jump during the UCLA vs. USC Track and Field dual meet at Drake Stadium. Jackson won the event.

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Adoree’ Jackson bent to touch his toes three times, rose to make the sign of the cross and then pointed to the sky before sprinting down the runway.

The USC sophomore’s leap drew gasps from the crowd as he landed in the long-jump pit, but he tossed a fistful of sand as he climbed to his feet and didn’t pause to check the scoreboard.

Jackson’s mark was 25 feet 4 3/4 inches — enough to win the event at Sunday’s USC-UCLA dual meet at Drake Stadium, but short of his growing expectations.

“I wouldn’t say I like how it’s going, but it’s pretty decent,” Jackson said of his track season. “I guess all right in my case.”

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The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Jackson, a multipurpose star for the Trojans football team, is intent on qualifying for the Olympics in the long jump.

Last year, Jackson committed to track only part time because of spring football practice. He still won the Pac-12 Conference title, and then jumped a personal-best 25-11 1/2 to finish fifth at the NCAA championships.

This spring, Jackson has gone all in for track and field.

Football Coach Clay Helton excused him from 15 spring workouts to pursue his Olympic dream. Jackson also was unable to attend football meetings because of an NCAA rule that limits student-athletes to 20 hours of team-organized athletic activity a week.

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“I’ve always believed if you’re going to be a master at something, you’ve got to work at it — and don’t be a jack of all trades,” Helton said in December. “When you get the opportunity to go work for the Olympics, you need to go work at that.”

On Sunday against UCLA, Jackson bolted to victory in the 100-meter dash in a personal-best 10.38 seconds. He also ran the anchor leg of the 400-meter relay in a foursome that included football teammates Dominic Davis and Ronald Jones. USC won in 39.89 seconds, but the Trojans lost the men’s meet, 103-60.

The USC women defeated UCLA, 97-66.

Going into the UCLA meet, Jackson ranked 16th nationally in the long jump with a mark of 25-8.

The top 24 qualify for the Olympic trials in July. They also can automatically qualify with a mark of 26-5.

The top three finishers at the trials make the Olympic team. Jackson’s personal best is about a foot short of 26-10 1/2, the third-best mark nationally this year.

Jackson said he thought he would reach his goal.

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“I’m not even worried about that,” he said. “At the end of the day you just got to go out there and compete and let it come to you. ... That’s why I’m being patient and the mark is going to come. ... I have faith that God will get me to that mark.”

Sheldon Blockburger, USC’s jump coach, said Jackson has not been able to do the work of a professional jumper because of his football commitment. But he said Jackson had the ability to make the team.

“He’s going to have to really fight to make that team,” Blockburger said. “But I think he’ll make the finals and once you make the finals, anything can happen at the trials.”

Regardless, Jackson said he did not regret forgoing spring football in pursuit of his goal.

“I am happy I am out here, so I don’t really mind — as long as I’m out here doing what I want to do and I’m healthy,” he said.

Scarvelis will compete at Olympics

UCLA’s Nicholas Scarvelis won the shot put with a mark of 66-10 3/4.

The senior last week topped the Olympic qualifying standard of 67-3 with a mark of 67-7 1/2 at the Triton Invitational.

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“When I first hit it I was really, really excited, super excited,” Scarvelis said. “But at this point, right now, it’s like a nice satisfaction feeling.”

Scarvelis will represent Greece, his grandparents’ native country, in the Summer Games in Brazil.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Twitter: @LindseyThiry


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