2. Maury's Stith Sets 5A Girls State Meet Record To Win Triple Jump
"It's a good day. It's a good day. It's a good day."
Although Maury coach Maurice Franks repeated this phrase three times with confidence, even he couldn't predict the future with certainty as he watched his trio of Lady Commodore jumpers warming up for the 5A girls triple jump.
Leading the way for Maury would be Bria Stith. The ECU-bound jumper was the prohibitive favorite with her 40-3.75 effort, a solid 19 inches better than second seed Brandee' Johnson, the multi-purpose All-American from Nansemond River. Stith was joined on the jump runway by her younger sister Brooke and junior Maya Seay.
It didn't take long to validate her coach's affirmation. With her first hop, skip and jump, the tall and lanky Stith traveled just a quarter-inch shy of 41 feet. Her personal best of 40-11.75 set a new 5A girls record, and earned 10 points for her Commodores. Brooke took fourth (37-8.5), while Seay kicked in two points with her seventh place finish (35-6.75), giving the team 17 points and an early lead after the first scored girls event.
While her happiness required no words, Stith was willing to share a few.
"Unbelievable. This is so exciting," exclaimed the senior, who maintained a level of reserve, realizing that she still had to compete in the 55-meter hurdles and high jump later in the day.
Part of her excitement came from tacking on another eight inches to her personal best in the triple jump. In fact, Stith has made a marked improvement from last year's outdoor best of 39-3, which was accomplished at the Hampton Relays.
She attributes her improvement to a simple ethic.
"It's hard work and getting stronger from last season." Franks attributes part of the reason for the added strength training to subpar weather.
"Everybody has the same problem with the weather. But, if we got out one day a week this winter, we were lucky."
The indoor work helped.
"We've been doing different drills and lifting more weights this winter," added Franks. "Everyone is working hard and just paying attention. She (Stith) has really been coming around for the last few meets."
Stith, who also topped 40 feet on two other jumps before taking a well-deserved rest for the final three rounds, also credits running hills for helping to improve her leg strength. Asked what hills would be suitable for training in the city of Norfolk, she immediately answered, "Mount Trashmore," the Virginia Beach park that is known for its sizable man made hills.
Turning her athletic focus to track has also played a part in her continued improvement. The switch was probably needed as Stith also competes in the long and high jumps, as well as 55 and 300-meter sprints. She has also posted a best of 31-8 in the shot-put.
"I thought that I was going to play basketball in college," said Stith, who stands 5-foot-10. "But I switched from basketball and now I have more time for track."
The decision has paid of in the form of a track scholarship to East Carolina.
Asked why she chose the Greenville, NC school, the 5A outdoor state long jump champion said, "It fit me. It's closer to home and I love it there."
Looking ahead, Stith is not sure whether she will compete at the New Balance Nationals, but definitively adds, "I'm going to Penn Relays (in late April).
Later on Friday, Stith won the high jump (5-4). Coupled with Jessica Moore's sixth place finish in the shot put (33-11.25), Maury earned 30 points and established an early 12-point lead over Lee-Davis, Deep Run and Nansemond River after the first day of competition.