Barbs’ Brown off to strong start after 2012 state finish

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Jasmine Brown practices the long jump and landings in DeKalb Friday, May 11, 2012. Brown has overcome a heart condition to qualify for state in the long and triple jumps.

DeKALB – Jasmine Brown was content, but not satisfied following last year’s track and field state championships.

Then a junior, Brown placed 10th in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump, posting the best individual performance by a DeKalb girls track athlete since Kim Snow took top 10 in the long jump and high jump ten years earlier.

“A lot of coaches were telling me I didn’t have a second phase, so a lot of people kept motivating me, telling me I had room to improve,” Brown said of her triple jump. “I was kind of excited that’s where I was now and I still could improve.”

Improvement came quickly for Brown, who didn’t need to wait for the outdoor season to post a new personal best. She spent the offseason lifting weights and working on her flexilibity. She did routines on the cheerleading mat to lengthen her “skip” and focused on not jumping as high on her first jump.

At the Illinois Top Times Indoor Championship – widely considered the unofficial indoor state championship – Brown took first in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump. Her triple jump mark of 39-9.5 broke DeKalb’s school record. It’s also the 10th-best mark in the nation to date.

“I was just excited. I was going for it, but I wasn’t expecting it,” Brown said. “I just jumped the way I should. I actually had a second phase. Usually it’s a step and this time it was a leap.”

DeKalb coach Carolyn Smrz could tell from day one that Brown was going to be a top tier triple jumper.

She placed fifth in the triple jump as a freshman and also helped the Barbs’ 4x200 relay to an eighth-place finish.

“I don’t think she’s hit her best yet,” Smrz said. “She has not stopped working since last season. She’s just going to continue to improve. I think this is her best right now, but I think she’s going to get even better.”

Brown made her college decision on Thursday, verbally committing to run track for Western Illiniois next season. She said it was a relief to have the stress of the decision over with before outdoor season starts next week.

The school record and breaking the 40-foot mark have been consistent goals for Brown, but her performance at Top Times has the senior thinking bigger. She’s now looking at 42 feet as a possibility and wants to finally win a state title.

“I’m really trying to win outdoor,” Brown said, “but as long as I get a PR I’m happy.”

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