The Class 4 long jump champion signed with Southeast
Blake Smith capped his senior season of track and field in style, winning the Class 4 long jump title May 28 on his birthday.
Monday was also a pretty good day for the 2011 Jackson High School graduate as he signed a letter of intent to compete for Southeast Missouri State.
"I'm very excited," Smith said. "I've always kind of wanted to go to SEMO."
Southeast started recruiting Smith long before his breakthrough at this year's state meet. He said Kansas had also been talking to him and that program's interest picked up after his state championship.
"After state they said they had an offer for me. I don't know how much [financially]," said Smith of the Jayhawks. "I really always had SEMO on my mind since the beginning, when I didn't really know how good I would do this year.
"I really liked SEMO. You can't beat staying at home, eating food cooked by mom."
Smith, seventh at state as a junior, said he was attracted to several things about Southeast, including the coaching staff.
"I know some of the kids going there, so they'll push me," he said. "The long jump coach [Matt Koelling] is really young and he's only been there a year so it's almost like we'll be starting together. And the head coach [Eric Crumpecker] is really nice."
While Smith has made his biggest mark in the long jump, breaking Jackson's school record several times, he also has been an impressive sprinter, something he might get a chance to do at Southeast as well.
Smith just missed making this year's state meet in the 100 meters as he was fifth at the sectional. He had a sizzling time of 10.44 seconds during the regular season.
"I might do the 4x100 [relay] and hopefully the 60 meters indoors," said Smith, who wants to be a track coach some day. "I'm more quick than fast."
Crumpecker is pleased about landing Smith, who will continue a long line of local athletes -- including several from Jackson -- who have competed for the Southeast program through the years. Many have had major success.
"We're definitely excited to get Blake. He had a great senior year," Crumpecker said. "We're looking to have a strong group in the jumps, and he'll be a big part of it.
"Some of the best people we've had over the years have been within a 20-mile circle of Cape Girardeau. Whenever we can get good local athletes we're happy."