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Interval Session #55 - Will Claye

By Dave Devine, May 15, 2008

Arizona leaper Will Claye (Mountain Pointe jr) didn't exactly burst onto the national scene out of thin air, but entering the 2008 outdoor season he lacked the name recognition of fellow horizontal jumpers like Christian Taylor, Omar Craddock, Marquise Goodwin or even in-state rival Bryce Lamb. Last spring, Claye was a sophomore runner-up in the triple jump at the Arcadia Invitational with a very solid 48-10.50, then won the same event in the Intermediate Boys division at the 2007 USATF Junior Olympics with a span of 49-10.50.

Those marks set him up nicely for a junior campaign that has seen him battle fellow-junior Lamb in the long- and triple jumps at the Chandler Invite (Lamb won both, barely), take the TJ title at Arcadia, and record a LJ/TJ split with Lamb at the Arizona 5A state meet which featured Claye's second US#1 triple jump mark of the season (a still-standing 52-04.50).

DyeStat Assistant editor Dave Devine heads to PHX for some runway time with the current king of the hop, step and jump.

1) It's been a great season for you, right up to last weekend when you reclaimed the US#1 mark in the triple jump with your performance at the Arizona State meet. Can you describe the state meet weekend? How it went for you, with the long jump first, and then the triple jump? How did you feel when you heard the measurement, "52-04.50"?

The state meet was very hyped up because everyone knew two of the best jumpers in the nation would be there. Our first day of state I long jumped but didn't have the kind of day I was hoping for and finished 3rd in long jump. After the long jump, I said to myself that I had to do something big in the triple jump. When I heard the measurement of my 52-04 jump, I was shocked because it was my very first jump of the prelims, so I knew I had some more in me but those ended up being scratches.

2) You and Bryce Lamb have sort of battled all season in the state of Arizona. I was watching at the Chandler Invite when he nailed a big triple jump on his final leap and got you there, but you got him in the triple jump at the state meet. Can you discuss that rivalry (if it actually is a rivalry), and the impact it's had on you as a jumper in Arizona?

Our rivalry is just on the track; off the track we are very good friends and hang out sometimes. Me and Bryce have been jumping together since our club track days when we were younger, and its good to have competion like him at every meet because it would be boring going out to every meet and winning by 4 feet every time. It pushes me harder at practice and at meets because I know he is a very good jumper.

3) You excel in both the long jump and the triple jump, but you've really carved out a name for yourself in the triple. Do you prefer one over the other, and if so, why? A lot of people just kind of lump them together as the "horizontal jumps," but can you talk about the differences between long jumping and triple jumping?

I prefer the triple better because I have always been better in it, but long jump is also fun. Long jump and triple jump are totally different because in long jump you are pretty much just running and jumping into the pit, and in triple you have three phases to your jump: the hop, step, and jump.

4) If you had to break down your own triple jump into phases, what would you say are your strong points, and which parts still need work?

My coaches say my second phase is my strongest phase because I try to hold it as long as possible. My strongest points are jump pulling on the track and keeping speed and momentum through my whole jump. I still need to work on my speed coming down the runway because my coach says that if I get faster, I would be a much better triple jumper.

5) Can you discuss the coaching you receive there at Mountain Pointe HS? Do you have an events coach, or anyone from outside who assists with your training? Where does your primary support come from, as an athlete and as a student?

My head coach is Kris Alexander, but my event coach is Scott Hutchinson. At track meets it seems like I have several coaches because last year I was coached by Lewis Todd, but he has switched schools, so at meets he still gives me tips while I am jumping. Also Coach Carson from Chandler assists me in jumping; he was my first jumping coach when I began to run club track for the [Arizona] Cheetahs. I am supported by many family and friends and even administration at my school while I'm at meets. Sometimes I even get a clap going from them when I want to get hyped up for a big jump.

6) As one of the top jumpers in the country, and with the state meet finished, I imagine you're now thinking about meets to compete in for the post-season. What does the rest of the schedule look like for you this summer? Are there particular goals or meets you're keying on?

The meet that I really am hoping to be in is the Olympic Trials in Oregon, but I still have to get some farther jumps out there in the next month. I will also be competing with Do Right Track Club in the Junior Olympics and hopefully I will compete with the Junior National team in Poland.

7) I lived in Phoenix AZ for 2 years...loved it nine months of the year, found it way too hot in the summer. How do you like living and training in a desert environment? Are there advantages and disadvantages as a jumper? Have you found ways to stay cool in the midst of hot, all-day competitions?

I like running track in Arizona, but then I [also] don't. It's easy to get warmed up before your event and hot weather is perfect for track, but Arizona is way too hot! There are no disadvantages to jumping in hot weather but an advantage is that between jumps you still stay warm and don't have to do much to stay warm. During meets I try to stay under the tent and get shade as much as I can because the heat gets you really exhausted.

Photos: John Nepolitan (top left), Margot Kelly (bottom right)

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