COLUMBUS – After taking third place in the long jump at the Central Jersey Group III state sectionals and second place in the same event at the Group Championships, it was only fitting that Brick Township’s Ja’Sir Taylor capped off his senior season with a first-place finish at Saturday’s Meet of Champions.
“It’s great. I don’t think we’ve had a Meet of Champion in a while,” said Taylor after all of the long jump competitors finished their attempts. “All of this hard work I’ve put in, it finally paid off.”
The Green Dragon set the mark on his second jump of the day and first measured attempt, reaching a distance of 23-08 1/2. At that point in the meet, no other jumper had even hit the 23-00 mark.
“I felt great the whole day. I was just anxious to get out there and get my jump,” admitted the senior. “I finally did everything perfect. I was perfect on the board, I finished my jump and I got a great mark.”
The mark was also a new personal best for Taylor. His previous best was 23-07 1/2, which he hit at this year’s Shore Conference Championships.
As the competition carried on, only three other long jumpers hit the 23-00 and over mark. The closest belonged to Boonton’s Omar Anderson, who placed second with a distance of 23-06 on his last attempt.
“The kid is born for the spotlight. He really is,” said Brick Township head coach Kristen Lapsley. “He is the best athlete that I’ve ever coached and I’ve been coaching 31 years.”
For Taylor, Saturday’s Meet of Champions was the best way to end his high school career. The senior is moving on to play football for Wake Forest next year and came into the spring track and field season with the mindset to leave a champion.
Even with that goal on the list, it never kept the Dragon from being the ideal teammate and competitor for Brick Township.
“If you look at what he does throughout the season — he’s also one of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever coached in my life,” she pointed out. “Every other meet he steps up and runs a relay to help out his teammates.”
Taylor’s support of his teammates has been unwavering all season. That support was matched for him in Saturday’s meet.
“This is about an hour away and I have teachers here, coaches, even teammates here supporting me,” noted Taylor. “The support staff is great at Brick and I love it.”
And the best part is Taylor’s season is not quite finished yet. The senior will be competing at the New Balance Nationals outdoor meet, which takes place today at North Carolina A&T University.
“He’s got more. He has longer jumps in him. He fouled a couple that looked like 24-00,” said Lapsley. “He’s going to Nationals next week, hopefully there is more in the kid. He did what he had to today to take home the gold.”
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