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girls jumps | 08-09 most outstanding performers

This is the third of a series of DyeStat year-end awards for 2008-09. The DyeStat Most Outstanding Performers series, which precedes the DyeStat Athlete of the Year awards, includes top honors for boys and girls distances, sprints/hurdles, jumps, throws, relays, and multi-events. Selections are made by DyeStat editors and are based a combination of multiple major victories/honors won and performances on all-time and yearly lists. Performances from outdoor track, indoor track, and cross-country are taken into account..

Text by SteveU - Photos by John Dye, Walter Pinion and John Nepolitan

Shade Weygandt

One of the most intriguing stories at the end of this spring has been the reemergence of Texas vaulter Shade Weygandt.  After a junior year that was marred by a spring injury, Weygandt didn’t compete for her Mansfield HS team this year due to graduating early, which left her with limited competitive options as she competed for Club Altius.  She appeared at the Simplot Games in February and won, but was clearly disappointed with a clearance of just 12-03.  She continued to struggle, but came out at NIN and made it back up to 13-02.25 for 2nd.

It seemed like she disappeared completely during most of outdoor, but that wasn’t exactly the case as she had a low-key schedule of college/open meets that kept her under the radar for most.  During April and May, she won meets at TCU, Mt. SAC, and Texas Tech – where she will be attending this fall – and cleared bars at 12-11, 13-05, and 13-06.50.  Still, it wasn’t quite the Shade of old.  But the first weekend in June would change everything.

At Great Southwest, Weygandt returned to a familiar venue.  Interestingly, the Texas State meet, where she had won three times, wound up the same weekend due to the “swine flu” postponement.  But in Albuquerque, she went higher than any prep vaulter went all year, finally reaching her goal of 14-00, prompting a joyous, tear-filled celebration.  Suddenly, she was the girl to beat again at the national level, and she went on to win a wind-swept NON with 13-03, then place 2nd (1st prep) at USATF Juniors with 13-11.25.  She has earned one more meet for the summer with the upcoming Pan Am Juniors, but whatever happens there, she’ll remember this spring with a smile after the 14-footer.

Ciarra  Brewer

Many top prep athletes across the country find themselves with little competition, unless they venture to meets outside their local or regional area, if not their entire state.  Brewer, the James Logan HS soph (Union City) definitely does not have that problem.  Just six miles away, at Moreau Catholic in Hayward, is Alitta Boyd, the senior against whom she has battled for the national triple jump lead all year.  With that kind of competition, Brewer has rarely had an easy meet and, with a talent that has been cultivated since her Youth years, she has ascended to the top.

Brewer was the nation’s best freshman in 2008 in both the LJ and TJ, and #4 overall in the TJ.  She quickly showed improvement indoors this winter with a TJ victory at Simplot, then a last jump win at Nike Indoor, where she bounded a US#1 42-00.50.  Outdoors, she won a tough battle at Arcadia, flying out to 42-10w and 42-01.50 legal.  Even in meets like the Bay Area Top 8 and the North Coast Section Bayshore Finals, she was having to battle Boyd, suffering her only HS loss this year in the former.

But in the NCS Bayshore Finals, she improved her US lead to 42-03, avenging her loss to Boyd, then went to scare 43 feet at the state championships at 42-11.50.  After bypassing NON and USATF Juniors, she finally topped the 43-foot barrier with a US#1 43-04.25 (-0.9w) at the World Youth Trials – missing the soph national record by a scant quarter-inch, but moving to #7 all-time, overall.  That qualified her for Team USA and a trip to World Youths in Italy to face the toughest competition of her still-young career.  There, she made the final and placed 7th to end a very successful spring season.

Alitta Boyd

Few athletes in the country probably looked toward this year’s USATF Junior meet with more intensity, focus, and motivation than Boyd.  Last year in Columbus OH, she beat a super TJ field with a 43-01w, but was not able to go to the World Junior meet because her qualifying mark was wind-aided.  As if that wasn’t motivation enough, she was also a disappointing 10th in the LJ.  While there would be no World Junior meet to qualify for this year, she could still earn a somewhat redemptive trip to the Pan Am Juniors.

First, though, there was an entire season to negotiate for the Moreau Catholic CA senior, including her tough North Coast Section rivalry with Ciarra Brewer.  Indeed, the two (arguably) best triple jumpers go to school a mere six miles apart in the Bay Area, so Boyd was rarely without competition.  She had no significant meets indoors, but was mostly strong and consistent outdoors … after a disappointing Arcadia.  At the Bay Area Top 8 meet two weeks later, she earned her only TJ win over Brewer, with a 42-10.50w.  She had a great state meet double, but had to settle for 2nds to Brewer in the TJ and Karynn Dunn in the LJ.

At Golden West, though, she repeated her double of 2008, then it was on to Eugene.  Under pressure at Hayward Field, Boyd responded with nothing less than the meet of her life.  She soared 20-07.25w (+2.4) for the LJ win, then took the TJ in a monumental 43-08w (+4.0).  The winning leaps were US#2 and US#1, all-conditions, with the latter #7 on the all-time, a-c list.  Her series in each included respective legal marks of 20-06.50 and 42-11.75, both US#1s at the time and now #2 in each.  Those victories earned her a trip to Trinidad and Tobago for the upcoming Pan Am Juniors.

Tynita Butts

Butts had her ups and downs, but if any of her competition in Virginia or around the country has learned anything about the T.C. Williams VA senior the past few years, it’s don’t count her out in the biggest meets.  And if she has a bad day or an injury at one big meet, she’s likely to come back the next time stronger than ever.

Butts is arguably the best combination long/high jumper in the country.  Fans found that out at the 2008 NSIC, when she leapt 5-08.5 to win the HJ and spanned 19-05.50 in the LJ – losing by just a half-inch to Vashti Thomas.  Though it would require solid improvement, she came into her final year with an outside shot to become the first 6-foot HJ’er/21-foot LJ’er in prep history.  She didn’t quite make it, but achieved a lot, nonetheless.  She raised her HJ PR up to 5-09 in December and two months later at indoor state, she went 5-09 again and got back over 20 feet at 20-00.50 to win the LJ. 

Then she returned to New York to see if she could complete that double.  Her feats were overshadowed by the all the national records that weekend, but her victories of 5-10.50 HJ and 20-01.50 LJ could not have been more dramatic, coming on the last try in each case.  Both were US#1s at the time, and she finished indoor US#3 in the HJ, #2 in the LJ.  Outdoors, she defended her Penn Relays LJ title, then at her state meet she had a disastrous long jump – missing the finals – but went 5-10 for the HJ title.  Finally, at NON, she nearly duplicated her NSIC feat – but it was actually NSIC 2008 all over again.  She matched her PR in the HJ at 5-10.50 for the victory, then was 2nd by just an inch in the LJ at 19-11.50.  Still, with four 1sts and two 2nds in national competition in her final two years, it’s hard to complain.

Andrea Geubelle

In a year of outstanding combo horizontal jumpers, Geubelle got herself to a level this year where she was always in the mix, whether it was at NIN, Arcadia, NON, or USATF Juniors.  The Curtis WA senior came in to 2009 having had a strong junior year in 2008, gradually improving to 19-08.25 in the long jump, to win at USATF JOs, and with a triple jump PR of 39-10.75, which won the Washington State 4A meet.

This past winter, she got her first big PR of 40-05 TJ to get 2nd behind Ciarra Brewer at Simplot.  Then at NIN, she stepped it up again, notching personal bests in both the LJ (19-09.75) and TJ (41-05.25).  She was 3rd and 2nd in those events, respectively, with the TJ being particularly tough as Brewer beat her on her last jump.  Arcadia, however, was better yet; while she still lost to Brewer, she improved her TJ to 41-09, and she won the LJ in 19-10.50.  At her state meet, she sailed 40-11.25 to win the TJ, 19-04 for the LJ, and added an 11.87 100 victory.

But in Greensboro, it was Geubelle’s time.  Just about every top athlete was in the NON LJ and the TJ really lacked only Brewer and Alitta Boyd.  With the last jump heroics coming from her this time, Geubelle took Friday’s TJ with a colossal PR and US#2 42-10.25 (-1.1w).  Then the next day in the LJ, she grabbed the lead on the first jump, a PR 20-00.50 (+0.1w), and held on for a one-inch win over Tynita Butts VA.  In the biggest meet of her life, Geubelle had scored 2 PRs and 2 victories.  USATF Juniors was a bit of a letdown, as she was 7th in the LJ (3rd prep) and 6th in the TJ (2nd prep), but nothing can take away from her tremendous feat at Nike Outdoor.

Honorable Mention

Shanay Briscoe – Briscoe’s competition were limited, and mostly under the radar until the end of June, but the Cypress Christian (Houston) TX junior still had one of the better seasons for any high jumper.  She didn’t compete indoors, but by early May she was back up to 6-00, sweeping four events at the TAPPS championship in Texas.  She returned to the site of her US#1 last year, Great Southwest, but settled for 2nd at 5-10, losing on misses.  A World Jr Team member last year, she was still eligible for the World Youth team this year, and won the Trials at 5-10.75.  At World Youths, she was 8th, also with 5-10.75.

Morgann LeLeux – Just when it seemed her outdoor season had plummeted to the figurative bottom of bayou, LeLeux produced a pair of performances to close spring 2009 on a very high note.  The Catholic New Iberia LA soph had led the indoor list at 13-02.50 and was 3rd at NIN and 2nd at NSIC (2nd and 1st American).  But outdoors, she had mostly been well under PR level, with things bottoming out at NON with a no-height.  But just over a week later at the World Youth Trials, she rallied to beat a good field at 12-07.50.  In Italy, fans truly saw the old Morgann as she powered up to 13-01.50, placing 5th in the world and creating again a very bright future.

Toni Young – Young, a 6-1 Oklahoma State basketball signee whose leaping ability is well-documented with various dunking videos on YouTube.com, doesn’t spend a lot of time on the track.  But in 2009, the Del City OK senior spent enough to make history.  Having already made it up near the top of the U.S. HJ list with a 5-11 at the John Jacobs OK Invite, she very suddenly at the Edmond North Invite leapt into the record book.  In three unreal jumps, she went 6-00, 6-02, and a USR-equaling 6-04.  As much as track fans around the country wanted to see more, Young went 5-10 and 5-06 (state meet) in her final two competitions and called it a season, due to basketball commitments – making her one of the most unique record-setters in track history.

Brittany Porter – Georgia does not have any indoor meets, but that didn’t stop the Towers senior from being at her very best at NIN, jumping a US#1 20-07.25, good for #7 all-time; she was also 2nd at NSIC to Ty Butts VA.  She carried that momentum into the early outdoor season, going over 20 feet three times, including a 21-03.25 at her county meet which was the top all-conditions jump in the country and #10 all-time in that category.  At her state meet, she showed her multis potential by sweeping the LJ and TJ, and nearly winning the shot – plus a leg on her team’s 4x100.  NON, however, didn’t go as well, as she took 5th.

Jen Clayton – The Suffern junior saved her best for last, reaching peak form in late June and early July.  After taking 4th in the NON long jump, and having another season featuring a small handful of big 20-footers – but with no wind gauges – Clayton had a career effort of 20-10.75 (+0.4) in the prelims at the World Youth Champs.  She had made it to Italy by winning the Youth Trials at 19-07.50.  In the WY finals, she wasn’t quite as good, but still a very solid 3rd with 19-10.25 into a 1.4 headwind.  Indoors, Clayton was 3rd in the NSIC LJ.  Outdoors, she also leapt 20-06.25 (nwi) and 20-07w (+3.1) at the New York State Meet.

Ellie McCardwell – As an 11-09 vaulter as a soph, McCardwell was hardly considered a national threat as 2009 began, but with a pair of 12-06s indoors, she began to attract some attention.  Outdoors, the improvements kept on coming: a 12-08 in mid-April, her first 13-footer 11 days later, then suddenly a 13-05 at her sectional May 19 – then, a US#1.  She improved to 13-06.25 at state, then went to Greensboro to face 14-footer Shade Weygandt.  In windy conditions, she reached 12-11 for 2nd as Weygandt won at 13-03.  Her year ended with a downer as she was 6th in the World Youth Trials, but she will definitely be a championship contender again as a senior in 2010.

Maya Pressley – Pressley, who was 3rd last year at USATF Juniors, stuck to meets in Florida most of the year.  The Coconut Creek FL senior had three meets at 5-10 or better, but was a disappointing 2nd at 4A State with 5-08.  Several weeks later, though, she made her third trip to USATF Juniors – this time all the way to Eugene – and made it her best.  With a 5-11.50 victory, she tied her PR and was just a half-inch away from having the #2 jump of the year in the U.S.

Year-End Awards Index