2014 NBNI Previews: Girls Jumps

by Steve Underwood

Third in a series.


(scroll down for girls’ long jump, high jump and pole vault)

National Record:  44-6.75  Ke’Nyia Richardson  CA  2007
Meet Record:  42-5.25  Carla Forbes  MA  2012

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
44-0  Keturah Orji  14  NJ  (US#1)
40-2.5  McKyla Brooks  15  NY  (US#3)
40-0.75  Javonne Antoine  14  MD  (US#5)
39-8.25  Chinne Okoronkwo  16  WA  (US#7)
39-6.5  Kaylyn Gordon  14  NY  (US#8)
39-3  Asa Garcia  15  TX  (US#10)

(based on career best, in or out/wind-legal)
44-11*  Keturah Orji  14  NJ
40-11*  Darrielle McQueen  14  FL
40-5.5*  Bria Druilhet  14  TX
40-2.5  McKyla Brooks  15  NY
40-2*  Mia Barron  14  MN
40-1.5**  Javonne Antoine  14  MD
Windy or NWI
41-5.5***  Asa Garcia  15  TX
41-2*  Anisa Toppin  14  NY
41-1*  Bria Druilhet  14  TX
40-11.5*  Felicienne Axel  15  TX
40-1*  LaChyna Roe  15  VA
(*=2013 outdoor, **=2013 indoor, ***=2014 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
Keturah Orji  14  NJ  41-0.25
Angela Mercurio  14  CAN  40-10.5
3  Anna Williams  13  VA  40-9.5
Javonne Antoine  14  MD  40-1.5
5  Brielyn Rogers  13  MD  39-6.5
Anisa Toppin  14  NY  39-0.25
Additional top returnees
10  Imani McGhee  14  NY  37-9.5

The NBNI girls’ triple jump is simply a showcase – that’s the best way to put it – on several levels.  First, it’s a showcase of the talented student-athletes enrolled in the NSAF’s Project Triple Jump, with all six of the girls in the year-round program entered here – five among the top 10 or so Championship entries and one more in the Emerging Elites.  Second, it’s an overall showcase of 40-foot talent, as more than a dozen entries have hit that mark indoors or out, as they converge upon New York.  Several more are at 39 feet or better.

Finally, it’s as showcase for an athlete who by the time she finishes her prep career, might be known as the best ever.  Keturah Orji (Mt. Olive, NJ senior), Project Triple Jump’s top “pupil,” is already #2 all-time both indoors and out.  Her victory here last March launched what became a “dream” junior year, as she improved from 41 to 42 and 43 feet, won NBNO and the World Youth Trials, then exploded to nearly 45 feet at the World Youth Champs.  Her 44-11 for bronze was less than an inch off the HSR.  This winter, despite competing in a state that doesn’t contest the TJ as a standard event, she’s jumped in three meets – hitting 44-0 and 43-11 in the last two.  This being her final indoor meet, her sights are no doubt set squarely on Ke’Niya Richardson’s 44-6.75 – the HSR set seven years ago at NSIC on this track.  With more than three feet on the field, it’s basically Keturah vs. the proverbial line in the sand.

The other four Project TJ’ers in the Championship will all be candidates for the medal stand.  Most active during the winter has been Chinne Okoronkwo (Mountlake Terrace, WA soph), who leapt 39-8.25 for 2nd at Simplot.  But don’t forget about Darrielle McQueen (North Florida Christian, senior) down in the Sunshine State.  She hasn’t competed indoors, but has been in the high 39s so far outdoors.  Last year, she was consistent over 40 with a legal best of 40-11.  Then there’s Felicienne Axel (Columbus, TX junior) with 40-11.25 nwi and 40-1.5w in 2013, in the 38s so far this year, and Nashedah Mumin (Mission Oak, CA soph) at 39-9.5 last year and 37-10 in her one meet this year.

However, the depth in the event goes well beyond the Project TJ athletes.  Everyone will have to contend with Canadian standout Angela Mercurio, who was 2nd behind Orji at 40-10.5 last year.  And 4th last year at 40-1.5 – and consistent all winter this year between 39-6 and 40 – has been Javonne Antoine (Elizabeth Seton, MD senior), a Team NSAF athlete at the Caribbean Scholastic last June.  Also at 40-2.5 this winter has been McKyla Brooks (Frontier, NY junior).  Finally, joining Axel from Texas are Bria Druilhet (Fort Bend Austin, senior) and Asa Garcia (Texas City, junior) – both have been over 41 outdoors either this year or last.

Orji may be a big favorite, but at least a dozen others have a reasonable chance at the rest of the top 2-6 spots!


National Record:  21-7.5  Carol Lewis  NJ  1981
Meet Record:  20-7.25  Brittany Porter  GA  2009

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
20-8.75  Keturah Orji  14  NJ  (US#1)
19-11  Kate Hall  15  ME  (US#3)
19-6.75  Milan Parks  15  VA  (US#4)
19-5.75  Kayla Richardson  14  NJ  (US#5)
19-4.75  Cidea’a Woods  14  NJ  (US#6)
19-4  Jewel Smith  15  VA  (US#8)

(based on career best, in or out/wind-legal)
20-11.75*  Keturah Orji  14  NJ
20-2.75*  Margaux Jones  15  CA
19-11  Kate Hall  15  ME
19-9.25*  Cidea’a Woods  14  NJ
19-8.75*  Olivia Small  14  OH
19-7*  Darrielle McQueen  14  FL
windy or NWI
20-3.5*  Margaux Jones  15  CA
19-10*  Madeline Holmberg  15  PA
19-9.5*  Darrielle McQueen  14  FL
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
1  Magali Roche  15  CAN  19-6.75
2  Kendell Williams  13  GA  19-6.25
3  Felecia Majors  13  VA  19-6.25
Cidae'a Woods  14  NJ  19-6
Keturah Orji  14  NJ  19-3.25
6  Chyna Ries  14  CO  19-1.25
Additional top returnees
Kate Hall  15  ME  18-6.5
3 (EE) Tatiyanna Sanders  14  NJ  18-1.5
11  Daryth Gayles  14  FL  17-11.5
13  Imani McGhee  14  NY  17-8.25

Will Saturday’s girls’ long jump be the first half of an epic horizontal jumps double by Keturah Orji, or will some of the current and potential other 20-footers in the field rise up to contend or possibly pull the upset?

The silver medal Orji owns for the World Youth Champs long jump is superior to her TJ bronze.  But the latter is more typically her overwhelming dominant event.  She was 5th and 2nd in the NBNI and NBNO long jumps last year, while winning the TJs.  This winter, she’s done 20-8 twice and it appeared this event would be a pretty great battle between Orji and Chyna Ries – the Denver East, CO senior who has racked up several victories between 19-10 and 20-5.  But Ries withdrew this week and it will fall to several others to see if they can give Orji a battle.

Only one other leaper has been close to 20 this winter, and that’s been Kate Hall (Lake Region, ME junior).  She had a 19-11 explosion in late December and since has had four other meets in the 19s, rarely getting anything close to competition.  She was 7th here last year (and at NBNO).  Four others have leapt between 19-4 and 19-6 undercover:  The Western Branch, VA junior duo of Milan Parks at 19-6.75 and Jewel Smith at 19-4, Kayla Richardson (Columbia, NJ senior) at 19-5.75, Cidae’a Woods (Winslow Twp, NJ senior) at 19-4.75 and Imani McGhee (Bay Shore, NY senior) at 19-3.75.  Woods was 4th here last year, less than an inch from victory and ahead of Orji.

On the other hand, the girls to challenge Orji – or at least fill out the medal stand – could come from a handful of competitors who haven’t jumped indoors and are starting their outdoor campaigns in warm weather states – like Margaux Jones or Darrielle McQueen.  Jones (Redlands, CA junior) was consistent between 19-7 and 20-3 last year as a super soph, with a legal 20-2.75 to win her Southern Section finals and a 4th-place finish in the loaded World Youth Trials.  McQueen (North Florida Christian, senior) – like Orji a Project TJ’er who is also great at the long jump – has leapt a legal 19-7 and windy 19-9.5.  Also watch for Olivia Small (Big Walnut, OH senior who attended the Project TJ November clinic) and Maddie Holmberg (Hempfield Area, PA junior), who have been in the 18s this winter, but each in the high 19s in the past.


National Record:  14-2.5  Tori Anthony  CA  2007
Meet Record:  14-2  Mary Saxer  NY  2005

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
14-0  Desiree Freier  14  TX  (US#1)
13-0.25  Kally Long  14  TX  (US#5)
13-0  Zoe McKinley  15  TX  (=US#7)
13-0  Olivia Gruver  15  MD  (=US#7)
12-10  Meagan Gray  15  TX  (=US#9)
12-10  Nicole Summersett  15  TX  (=US#9)

(based on career best, in or out)
14-0  Desiree Freier  14  TX
13-4.5**  Shay Petty  14  TX
13-3**  Kally Long  14  TX
13-2.5*  Zoe McKinley  15  TX
13-0  Sara-Kathryn Stevens  14  TX
13-0  Olivia Gruver  15  MD
13-0*  Madison Heath  14  LA
(***=2014 outdoor, **=2013 indoor, *=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
1  Annie Rhodes  13  TX  13-8.5
Shay Petty  14  TX  13-4.5
Desiree Freier  14  TX  13-0.75
4  Lakan Taylor  13  TX  13-0.75
Zoe McKinley  15  TX  13-0.75
6  Sarah Bell  13  IN  12-8.75
Additional top returnees
10  Sara-Kathryn Stevens  14  TX  12-4.75
13  Madeline Aune  14  SC  12-0.75
15  Vanessa Davis  15  AZ  11-7

Texas doesn’t have an indoor state meet and, hence, an indoor championship for girls’ pole vaulters.  But if it did, it would probably look a lot like Sunday’s battle coming up at NBNI.  Of the six girls in the field who’ve vaulted 12-10 or better indoors this winter, five of them are from Texas.  Or, if you take the seven who’ve cleared 13-0 or better at some point in their careers, in or out, five are from the Lone Star State.  Three girls who went 13 or better in this very meet last year return – and all are from Texas.

One of these Texans stands alone so far in 2014, though.  That’s Desiree Freier.  The Justin Northwest senior has become Miss Consistency at 13-6 or above, with eight such meets so far this year, both indoors and out.  On her biggest stage to date she shone the brightest, scaling a national-leading, #3 all-time 14-0 at the Millrose Games.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Freier was 3rd here last year and went on in the summer to make Team USA and the World Youth final.  She’s clearly improved since then and is a heavy favorite.

Three other Texans here have gone 13-2 or better at some point and the next few spots will probably emerge from among them.  The big question mark is Shay Petty (St. Mary’s Hall, senior), who was 2nd here last year at 13-4.5, but missed the end of the outdoor season and hasn’t competed since.  Zoe McKinley (Grapevine, junior) tied for 4th last March with 13-0.75, made the WY team with Freier and went on to a best of 13-2.5.  Her best so far this year is 13-0.  Then there’s Kally Long (Wimberly, senior), who didn’t vault 2013 NBNI, but was 3rd at NBNO and has a 2014 best of 13-0.25.

There’s also a brand new outdoor, Lone Star 13-footer: Sara-Kathryn Stevens of New Braunfels.  If anyone is to “break up the Texans,” it could be Olivia Gruver (Franklin, MD junior) – a breakout performer with her 13-0 to capture her 3A state meet – or Madison Heath (Fontainebleau, LA senior), who went 13-0 last spring.  Of course, if the top contenders struggle at 13 or better, then that opens the door for a slew of others in the 12-6 to 12-10 range.


National Record:  6-3  Lisa Bernhagen  ID  1984
Meet Record:  6-0  Sheena Gordon  PA  2002

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
5-10  Ellen DiPietro  14  MA  (US#1)
5-8  Cyre Virgo  15  PA  (=US#5)
5-8  Izzy Laurel  14  MD  (=US#5)
5-8  Kerstin Darsney  14  MA  (=US#5)
5-8  Shayla Broughton  16  NY  (=US#5)
5-8  Crystal Jones  15  VA  (=US#5)
5-8  Amiaya Carey  14  MD  (=US#5)
5-8  Jailah Mason  14  MI  (=US#5)
5-8  Nicie Grier-Spratley  15  VA  (=US#5)
5-8  Kathryn Gulbrandsen  14  NJ  (=US#5)

(based on career best, in or out)
6-1*  Cyre Virgo  15  PA
5-10  Ellen DiPietro  14  MA
5-10*  Nicole Greene  15  FL
5-8.5*  Crystal Jones  15  VA
5-8.5*  Megan McCloskey  14  PA
(several tied at 5-8)
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
Cyre Virgo  15  PA  5-11.25
2  Kendell Williams  13  GA  5-9.25
3  Amy Collins  13  MA  5-7.25
Crystal Jones  15  VA  5-7.25
Shayla Broughton  16  NY  5-5.25
Megan McCloskey  14  PA  5-5.25
Additional top returnees
Lauren Hudson  14  NY  5-5.25

Let’s be honest: This has not been an electrifying winter, from a national perspective, in the girls’ high jump.  Only one jumper has gone even as high as 5-9, and that jumper is Ellen DiPietro (Marshfield, MA senior) – whose 5-10 best came in December.  It could be more interesting, though, if a few others can return to form.  Remember last March when a surprising sophomore from Pennsylvania upset Kendell Williams in the HJ?  That was Cyre Virgo, who went 5-11.25 that day and improved to 6-1 outdoors.  This winter, with her focus mostly on basketball, she’s had just one meet in January – a 5-8.  Will she be ready for big things Friday?

Then there’s Nicole Greene, the Ponte Verde, FL senior who could also make things interesting.  No indoor for her this winter, but she has three career 5-10 meets outdoors and hit 5-8 a few weeks ago to show she’s in reasonable shape.  She’ll come north hoping for a big undercover debut.  Beyond that, there’s a logjam this winter among girls who’ve cleared 5-8 – eight others here to be exact.  They do include, however, three others from last year’s top six:  Crystal Jones (Colonial Forge, VA junior), Megan McCloskey (Germantown Acad., PA senior), and Shayla Broughton (Medgar Evers, NY sophomore).

Our Partners