2019 GIRLS TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Check out our post-meet interview with Jazlynn Shearer at the CIF-State Championships.
When Jazlynn Shearer was in the sixth grade, she plowed into a hurdle during practice with her youth team, Umoja.
As he sprawled on the track crying she thought, "I don't ever want to hurdle again.''
Her coach, Brunet Lux, had other ideas.
"I was literally still crying when he moved the hurdle up from 30 inches to 36 inches and told me to hurdle it, which I did," she recalled. "When he put the hurdle down to 30 inches, it looked really small."
Shearer has been gliding over hurdles ever since, capturing the 100-meter hurdles crown at the CIF-State Championships in May, running a wind-aided personal-best of 13.24 seconds. Her best wind-legal time, 13.36 was the second-fastest time in the nation behind only the 13.33 run by Jasmine Jones of Greater Atlanta Christian in the same race at Arcadia.
"I've hit a lot of hurdles in my career," said Shearer, an 18-year-old University of Nevada Las Vegas-bound senior and MileSplitCA 2019 Girls Track Athlete of the Year.
"They say you're not a hurdler until you fall. This year, though, I haven't hit any hurdles."
Her wind-aided time from State ranks No. 5 in California prep history for wind-aided marks. Her wind-legal time from State ranks tied for No. 2 nationally in 2019 and No. 14 in state history.
Shearer started running track eight years ago mainly because her dad (Curtis) and mother (Kimberly Jones) had run, instantly falling in love with the sport.
It helped her in many aspects of her life.
"For me, track is an outlet," said Shearer, who plans to major in kinesiology at UNLV. "If something is going on in my life, there is a feeling I get when I'm at the track. It's difficult to explain but I feel better there, like I'm with family. Then it's fun."
Although she also won the State title in the triple jump (41-01) and was second in the long jump (19-10.75) while single-handedly leading Silver Creek to second place in the team competition, Shearer says winning the 100-meter hurdles title was the highlight.
"Hurdling is different from everything else," said Shearer. "I think you have to be a little crazy to do the hurdles. For me, though, it's so much fun.
"I first realized this year might be special when I placed fifth in the 60-meter hurdles at an indoor meet in New York. I PR'd by a lot even though I didn't feel good and my coach worked me right through that meet. The odds were against me doing well and yet I did."
What about losing to Jones both at Stanford and then Arcadia?
"That didn't bother me at all, especially Arcadia," Shearer said. "I had a huge time drop (from 13.52 at Stanford) and I knew I didn't even peak for that meet."
Heading into the State Meet, she and her Silver Creek High coaches, Hector Flores and Paul Pham, talked about dropping the long jump to focus on her two best events but Shearer said she talked them out of it. She knew she'd be hustling from one event to the other but that's what she wanted.
"I'm better off when I don't overthink things," explained the 5-foot-6 Shearer. "In the long jump, I just wanted to medal (be in the top six), so I was pleased with second. But I didn't have time to enjoy that because I had to get over to the hurdles.
"When I get in the blocks, all I think about is the start. I focus on the sound of the starting gun, nothing else. Once it went off, I just ran. I don't remember if I was ahead at the start but I imagined someone was right next to me the whole race.
"Then when I finished, I looked at the clock."
The giant scoreboard just beyond the finish line blinked '13.24.'
"I wasn't sure what time I'd run because it didn't feel like one of my better races," she recalls. "I wasn't expecting that."
But again all she could do was grab her gear and run to get her step down for the triple jump.
She went 41-01 with the help of a 2.7 mps breeze on her second jump as all four of her legal efforts surpassed 40 feet and three of the four were superior to the runner-up mark of 40-04.25.
"I'd injured my knee a couple of weeks before that State Meet and I wasn't sure how it would hold up," she said. "But it was perfect -- everything went fast and I didn't have time to overthink everything.
"I was exhausted when I finished."
The hurdle-triple jump double has become commonplace.
In the past 11 State Meets, six individuals have posted the girls short hurdle-triple jump double, including twice by Agoura's Tara Davis (2016 and 2017) and Castro Valley's Sasha Wallace (2012 and 2013) after Mt. Pleasant's Vashti Thomas did it in 2008.
Shearer accumulated 28 points with her two golds and one silver, which allowed Silver Creek to earn that runner-up plaque in the team race behind Clovis Buchanan's 50 and ahead of big teams like Long Beach Poly.
Shearer is already looking ahead.
"I want to break 13 seconds in the hurdles -- definitely," she said, "and I want 43 in the triple jump. My goal in the long jump is 21 feet."
All thanks to Brunet Lux.
Photo credits: Jeffrey Parenti, Pat Rhames, DeAnna Turner.