2014 NBNI Previews: Boys Jumps

by Steve Underwood

Fourth in a series


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

National Record:  52-7.5  Keith Holley  VA  1988
Meet Record:  51-11  Mark Jackson  TX  2010

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
51-3  John Warren  14  VA  (US#1)
50-2  Ja’Mari Ward  16  IL  (US#2)
49-3.75  KeAndre Bates  14  (US#3)
48-8.75  Darrel Jones  14  NY  (US#5)
48-4  Devon Willis  14  NY  (US#8)
48-3  Nate Moore  14  CA  (US#10)

(based on career best, in or out/wind-legal)
51-6.25*  KeAndre Bates  14  (US#3)
51-3  John Warren  14  VA
50-11.75*  Nate Moore  14  CA
50-2  Ja’Mari Ward  16  IL
49-3*  Ryan Thomas  14  DE
48-10.25*  Devon Willis  14  NY
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(no returnees in top 6)
1  Jeremiah Green  13  FL  51-6.5
2  Jonathan Pitt  13  NJ  49-7.25
3  Aaron Worrell  13  VA  49-5.75
4  Jaelen Spencer  13  CA  48-8.75
5  Christian Rogers  13  VA  48-1.75
6  Keron Brown  13  DE  47-11
Top returnees
Devon Willis  14  NY  47-3
Ryan Thomas  14  DE  46-9.5
12  John Warren  14  KS  46-4.75
14  Leaugen Fray  14  NJ  45-10
15  Darrel Jones  14  NY  45-10
16  Isaac Arriola  14  VA  45-7.75

The boys’ triple jump may not quite have the national-record-threatening performer at the top end, like Keturah Orji in the girls’ TJ, but the battle fans will witness Sunday with a quartet of 50-footers should be at least as irresistible.  And, as is the case for the girls, NSAF Project Triple Jump athletes will be a huge part of the drama.

Last March, John Warren – then prepping in Kansas – managed just 12th in the TJ here.  The talented student-athlete, then with a best of 48-10, was still chosen to be a part of Team NSAF at Caribbean Scholastics, then was a much stronger 3rd at NBNO.  Now a senior at Prince George, VA, he hit 50-9.25 in early January, then a month later 51-3 – good for US#1 and the favorite’s role here.

But Warren is hardly an overwhelming favorite – Project TJ’ers Ja’Mari Ward and KeAndre Bates, as well as Californian Nate Moore, will be eager challengers.  Ward, a Cahokia, IL soph, set the national 9th-grade mark last winter and has taken it to a thrilling new level now with a 49-0.75 in January and then a soph class HSR 50-2.5 in February.  His older “teammate” Bates (El Paso Burges, TX senior), however, did beat Ward at the New Balance Boise Indoor – but is chasing him on the list with 49-6.5 outdoor/49-3.75 indoor bests so far in 2014.  But Bates, of course, has his 51-6.25 from last year that advanced him to the final at the World Youth Champs.  You have a feeling he could propel himself back into the 51s at any moment.

Then there’s Moore (Castro Valley, CA senior), another thrilling talent.  He’s only jumped once indoors, a 48-3 victory at Simplot (and since has an outdoor 48-9), and noted there that he was pointing for this NBNI weekend.  Given his own stellar 2013 campaign, where he bounded a legal 50-11.75 to win his state title, Moore will indeed be a force to be reckoned with. 

Beyond these four?  It’s tough to imagine anyone breaking it up, unless one of them seriously falters or someone else really breaks through.  A dark horse to watch for is Devon Willis (Schalmont, NY senior), a 48-4 performer this winter who did 48-10 outdoors last spring and is also the highest returnee here after taking 8th in 2013.  Yes, the top 7 last year were all seniors and only Warren among the lead quartet has jumped in this meet before.


National Record:  26-6.5  Dion Bentley  PA  1989
Meet Record:  25-3.25  Marquis Dendy  DE  2011

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
24-1.25  Adoree’ Jackson  CA  (US#2)
23-11.75  Nate Moore  CA  (US#3)
23-11.5  Isaiah Moore  NC  (US#5)
23-9.25  Isaiah Brooks  PA  (US#7)
23-8.5  Dayshawn Taylor  NY  (US#8)
23-8.25  Michael Egotanda  NY  (US#9)

(based on career best, in or out/wind-legal)
25-0*  Adoree’ Jackson  CA
24-11.75*  Nate Moore  CA
24-8.5*  Isaiah Moore  NC
23-11.25*  Cole Henderson  IL
23-9.25  Isaiah Brooks  PA
23-8.5  Dayshawn Taylor  NY
Windy or NWI
23-10.75*  Willie-Lionel Reed  LA
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(no returnees in top 6)
1  Andre Jefferson  13  TX  24-8.5
2  Cameron Luper  13  AL  24-8.5
3  Jared Kerr  13  CAN  23-8.25
4  Stevens Dorcelus  14  CAN  23-8.25
5  Alex Niemiec  13  MA  23-3.25
6  Desmond Mobley  13  NY  23-1.75
Top returnees
John Warren  14  KS  22-3.5
10  Ryan Thomas  14  DE  22-2.5
16  Isaiah Brooks  15  PA  21-6.25
--  Isaiah Moore  14  NC  NM (3 fouls)

They did battle at Arcadia last spring, waged war in Clovis, and faced off again this winter in Pocatello.  Now the outstanding California rivalry that is Adoree’ Jackson vs. Nate Moore comes to The Armory, where two of the nation’s best long jumpers – potentially THE best two – will face off Saturday at NBNI. 

Moore (Castro Valley, senior) seems to think of himself as a triple jumper first, having noted at Simplot that event as the one he was shooting for most at the 2013 CIF Final.  The long jump win over Jackson – a PR 24-11.5 to Jackson’s 24-7.5 – was kind of an unexpected, but thrilling bonus.  Jackson (Junipero Serra, senior), even better known for his gridiron talents (the 5-star cornerback signed with USC), had beaten Moore at Arcadia and would win at Simplot as they produced the US#2-3 performances of this season.  Really a prodigal LJ’er, Jackson had won state as a soph in 2012 with a legal 25-footer and basically matched it in the 2013 SS Finals.  He was also 3rd at Penn as a soph.  Watching these two duke it out should be supremely entertaining.

And they won’t be alone.  2013 World Youth bronze medalist Isaiah Moore (Cummings, NC senior) will be finally getting the competition he’s been looking for all winter.  He’s at US#4 with 23-11.5 after hitting that monster 24-8.5 in Donetsk last summer to get on the podium.  If you’re noticing at this point that all three of the above-mentioned contenders are 9-12 inches off their outdoor PRs so far this winter, it could very well be said that the jumper who can “return to form” and mark at least in the mid-24s is the one who could come away with gold here.

Missing from the field, unfortunately, is US#1 Mustaqeem Williams, the Forest Park, VA senior at 24-9 who became injured after state.  And others to watch include Cole Henderson, a Pekin Community, IL senior who has not jumped yet in 2014, but had a legal 23-11.25 in winning state last year and was 5th at NBNO.  Moore was 3rd at NBNO last June, by the way, but fouled out of last winter’s NBNI.  A large handful of other jumpers in the 23-6 to 23-10 range will battle for the lesser podium spots or possibly a top-3 finish should any of the faves falter.


National Record:  17-9.75  Andrew Irwin  AR  2011
Meet Record:  17-5  Maston Wallace  TX  2007

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
17-8  Devin King  LA  (US#1)
17-1  Noah Gilfillan  TX  (US#3)
16-9  Todd Uckermark  NY  (US#4)
16-8  Harrison Williams  TN  (=US#6)
16-4.75  Jonathan Denby  IL  (US#10)
16-2  August Kiles  CA  (US#12)

(based on career best, in or out)
17-8  Devin King  LA
17-1  Noah Gilfillan  TX
16-9  Todd Uckermark  NY
16-8  Harrison Williams  TN
16-4.75  Jonathan Denby  IL
16-4*  August Kiles  CA
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
1  Daven Murphree  13  TX  17-1
2  Dylan Duvio  13  LA  16-9.25
3  Matthew Rowland  13  OH  16-5.25
4  Craig Hunter  13  NJ  16-1.25
5  Fredrick Krieger  13  MN  16-1.25
Devin King  14  LA  15-9.25
Additional top returnees
10  Todd Uckermark  14  NY  15-3.5
23  Noah Gilfillan  14  TX  NH

When you’re an athlete with the last name “King,” it’s always nice if your performances can back that up, so to speak.  Among U.S. prep boy’s pole vaulters right now, the name definitely fits Devin King.  The Jewel Sumner, LA senior has ruled the event all winter and when he comes to NBNI for Saturday’s competition, he’ll be one of the bigger favorites of the meet.  He’s already vaulted 17 feet or better five times this winter, both indoor and outdoor, including a victory at the National PV Summit in Reno and his US#1 17-8 at his state qualifying meet – a mark that is #2 all-time and less than two inches off the HSR.  King is not shy about admitting he’d like to become the first prep over 18 indoors.  This will be his last chance to make that dream come true. 

Oh, one other thing:  It should be mentioned that King came to New York last March with a 17-1 PR, but struggled to a 6th-place finish, not even clearing 16 feet.  So that should motivate him as well.  He fared better at NBNO, then made Team USA for World Youths where he was 6th.

Can anyone vault with King?  There’s one other vaulter in the meet who’s cleared 17 before: Noah Gilfillan (Corsicana, TX senior).  Gilfillan scaled 17-1 back in late December and has since had five meets between 16 and 16-6.  Then Warwick Valley, NY senior Todd Uckermark, has a best of 16-9 and is one of two 16-footers from his school – the other being junior Derek Dibona (16-1).  Uckermark, however, hit his PR in late December as well, then went 16-2 in Reno for 8th.  He has been mostly at 16-0 since, though he hasn’t really been pushed. 

Another contender – who happened to PR in Reno – is Harrison Williams.  The Memphis U. HS senior hit 16-8 there and since has vaulted 16-6.75 and 16-0.  He is passing up the pentathlon here, where he was 2nd last year and would be battling for the title (he’s a 7,181 HS decathlete), to focus what’s likely his favorite individual event.  Two others who could contend for a top three spot are Jonathan Denby (Carlinville, IL senior), who PR’d with 16-4.75 a few weeks back, and August Kiles (Tamalpais, CA senior), who has done 16-2 this winter and 16-4 last spring.


National Record:  7-5.25  Scott Sellers  TX  2004
Meet Record:  7-5.25  Scott Sellers  TX  2004

Top Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
7-1  Steven Dunbar  14  VA  (US#2)
6-10  Bradley Jones  15  VA  (US#7)
6-9  Donald Ohlson  14  NY  (US#12)
6-8.25  Justin Sicari  14  NY  (US#14)
(9 tied at 6-8)

(based on career best, in or out)
7-1  Steven Dunbar  14  VA
6-11*  Paul Galas  14  CAN
6-11*  Kai Rowden  14  KS
6-10*  Willie-Lionel Reed  14  LA
6-10  Bradley Jones  15  VA
6-9.5  Tyree Ballanger  14  PA
(*=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(no returnees in top 6)
1  Philippe St-Hilaire  14  CAN  6-9
2  Ibn Short  13  PA  6-9
3  Adam Couitt  14  MA  6-7
4  Demario Gray  13  CT  6-7
5  Joe Mankovecky  13  OH  6-7
6  Elizae McDonald  13  PA  6-7
Top returnees
10  Steven Dunbar  14  VA  6-5
16  Bradley Jones  15  VA  6-5
16  Leaugen Fray  14  NJ  6-5

The boys’ high jump is another event with a World Youth finalist on the entry list, but this time it’s a Canadian:  Paul Galas from Ontario placed 7th in Donetsk last year at 2.11 (6-11) after also placing 7th at NBON and, if US#2 Steven Dunbar (Tallwood, VA senior) and maybe a few others prove worthy of the task, could make this an exciting event Saturday evening.  The 2013 version of the event was also captured by a Canadian, Philippe St-Hilaire, who beat Ibn Short (Milton Hershey, PA) on misses as both cleared just 6-9.

Dunbar, who is also a national class long- and triple-jumper, hit 7-1 in a weekday conference meet in early January and also has since had meets of 6-11 and 6-10.  He was just 10th here last year, but then improved mightily to 2nd at NBNO.  He’s also trying to rebound from a disappointing 4th at 6A state.  Another Virginia to watch is Bradley Jones (Oscar Smith, junior), who has scaled 6-10 this winter in taking runner-up in that 6A state meet. 

Two others could challenge at 6-10 or better if they can regain their 2013 form.  Kai Rowden (Olathe North, KS senior) has had a quiet 2014 so far, but hit 6-11 in his conference meet last spring.  Willie-Lionel Reed (Lusher Charter, LA senior), also a contender in the LJ with a 23-10 best, hit 6-10 last summer but has not jumped yet this year.

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