By Rick White
Stealth bomber pilots might not be the only ones taking flight this weekend in Alamogordo.
High-flying Clovis senior Derond Jackson plans to put on an aerial show of his own at the Class 5A state track meet at Alamogordo High School.
Heavily favored in the long and triple jumps, Jackson said he’s zeroing in on the state record in both events.
“Winning is not enough,” said Jackson, ranked in the top two in the 100 and 200 meters. He is also running a leg on the Wildcats’ 400-meter relay team. “This is my last year. I’ve got the two (school) records here. I want the other two (state records).”
The Class 5A state records of 24-3 1/4 and 48-4 1/2 are within his reach, according Clovis coach Darren Kelley.
He’s already shattered the school records in both events — going 24-1 in the long jump and 49-0 in the triple jump.
Kelley foresees a big weekend for his senior standout.
“He’s got a legitimate chance to win five gold medals,” Kelley said.
Armed with unusually long legs, the 6-foot-3, 166-pound speedster has the kind of talent that turns heads whenever he’s on the track or jumping.
“He’s a track-meet stopper,” Kelley said. “Everybody stops what they’re doing to watch him jump.”
He even awes his teammates.
“I think of him as a track God — he can just do it all,” said Clovis junior Ben Teconchuk. “I always like to get down there about five minutes before he jumps to look at the crowd gather around because he’s pretty much the main event. And then just seeing him fly by everybody’s marks is unbelievable.”
Jackson missed the state meet last season after being ruled academically ineligible, a transgression Kelley said took him a while to get over.
“I didn’t talk to him for a while,” Kelley said.
Jackson said he’s matured as an athlete and a student.
“I just tried to stay after it in everything,” Jackson said. “I tried to stay after it on the track and in classroom.”
He also said missing last year’s state meet has served as motivation this spring.
“I’m just trying to make up for last season,” Jackson said. “Just trying to go out and work hard and do my best.”
Kelley said the biggest difference with Jackson this year is confidence.
“The biggest thing I’ve done is try to make him understand how good he can be,” Kelley said. “To me, more of what me and Derond have been through is mental.”
Jackson has all the physical tools, Kelley said.
“It’s just natural,” Kelley said “It’s neat to watch him work out. He never looks like he’s working hard. It’s just effortless.
“But the big thing is he just gets it done.”
Jackson said he’s been surprised at his success in the 100 meters, an event he’d never run before this season.
“I don’t want to let down coach,” Jackson said. “So of course I’m going to give it all I can for him.”
Jackson’s aerial exploits and are drawing the interest of several junior colleges, something Kelley is excited about.
“He has a chance to use track to get an education.”
Jackson already has learned how to fly.