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Jackson boys excel in field at ND meet
The Indians won all seven field events in the team format.
Jackson sophomore Blake Smith missed almost his entire freshman track and field season with a fractured disc in his spine.
But Smith, who also had his appendix rupture a couple of months before this season started, is feeling healthy and looking like one of the better local long jumpers this spring.
Smith's jump of 20 feet, 6 3/4 inches was the best of anyone competing in the long jump at the Bulldog Relays at Notre Dame Regional High School on Saturday.
Smith and the Jackson boys won the boys field competition at the meet by winning all seven team field events.
"It was a pretty tough year," Smith said about being sidelined last track season "I'm thrilled [about jumping this year]. I'm hoping to get the school record this year. That was my PR today, and I'm happy for it."
Smith also was excited his team won every field event.
"I'm real thrilled," Smith said. "We're good teammates, we work hard together, push each other and it's good to have a little competition from each other."
Smith is not sure how the disc in his back fractured, but said his back started to hurt during his freshman football season.
"It [the pain] just got worse and worse," Smith said. "They thought it was actually my hip dislocated, but it ended up being the fracture."
Smith visited a doctor in St. Louis last spring after practicing with the Jackson track and field team for about three weeks.
He sat out the rest of the season, had to wear a back brace and went to physical therapy three times per week.
"It was real frustrating," Smith said. "And right before this season started my appendix ruptured, so I was in the hospital for a week over Christmas break for New Year's. That was pretty bad, too. It's been rough, but I'm glad I'm back in there."
Smith said the back injury began to aggravate him again this past fall, but he said wearing the brace healed it.
Smith, who has participated in USA and AAU track events during past offseasons, also placed fourth in the triple jump (39-2 1/4) and fifth in the high jump (5-6) Saturday.
"Long jump is definitely my favorite -- run as fast as you can and explode," Smith said. "Triple jump is more technique, and I haven't got that down yet."
Smith's goal is to make it to state. The top long jumper at last year's Class 4 state meet jumped a little more than 24 feet. Everyone in the top 12 was over 21 feet.
"He's really come back and he's really done a great job," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said.
Lucas Davis was another Jackson jumper who turned in a strong day.
Davis had the second-best high jump (5-8), the third-best triple jump (39.2 1/2) and second-best long jump (19.7 1/2).
"We had a meet Wednesday and I didn't do great, and I came out and felt a little bit better, and Blake jumped another 20 [feet] just like Wednesday so he's doing good," Davis said. "We're getting close to a school record."
Wachter was pleased with how his field athletes performed, especially since the meet was only their second this spring.
"Our field event coaches really do a great job," Wachter said. "I was really proud of them."
Cole Rodgers was concerned heading into this season without last year's star thrower, Jacob Bullinger, who as a senior last year placed fifth in the Class 4 meet in discus.
"We didn't know how we'd do since we lost Bull," Rodgers said. "We didn't know how we'd hold up, but we're doing just fine."
Rodgers had the top discus throw (133-10 1/2) and Jackson's Blake Peiffer had the top shot put throw (50-4) as the Indians dominated the throwing relays.
"It feels pretty good I can get him [Peiffer] in disc, but he kicks my butt in shot," Rodgers joked.
Rodgers came in second to Peiffer in the shot, while Peiffer came in second to Rodgers in the discus.
Both Rodgers and Peiffer said they were not too pleased with their discus throws.
"I was a little disappointed with how I threw and how he threw, too, because we had 140s pretty consistent in practice," Peiffer said. "And coming here today and only getting low 130s is disappointing."
Peiffer said his throw of 50-4 in the shot put was a new personal record for him.
Rushin at Texas Relays
Jackson's Jill Rushin was not at the meet. She instead was participating in the Texas Relays where she placed second in the discus (142-6) and fourth in the shot put (43-1).
"There's a lot of college coaches there," Wachter said about the Texas Relays. "With where her throws are at, which is really phenomenal, she needs that exposure because there are people out there looking for those outstanding throwers. And we want them to take a look at her."