By Christopher Hunt
WHITE PLAINS – When Jen Clayton hit the sand, she couldn’t tell if she popped a good one. But when the Suffern junior looked over to the pit next to her and realized that her jump was about as far as the boys jumping on the parallel runway.
Then she knew it was far. Clayton jumped 20 feet, 20.50 inches at the Loucks Games at White Plains to break a 28 year-old meet record. Her mark is the third best in the country this season and tops a mark set by Tomi Rucker of Coolidge, D.C. of 20-2 in 1981.
“I was like a foot behind the board and I was stutter-stepping,” Clayton said of her first two jump which were 20-1, 20-2.50. “I’m doing this without much training. Since indoors I’ve been looking for consistency and this means a lot.”
Clayton has been looking for a 20-foot jump since she popped 20-1.50 last indoor season. She missed much of this winter season because of an irregular heart beat and hasn’t competed much this outdoor season because of tendonitis in both knees. The Loucks Games is only Clayton’s third competition of the spring season.
“I wasn’t coming in here with any goals or looking to break any records so I’m really happy with this,” she said.
Clayton said her technique was mostly flawless Friday but her approach on the runway gave her issue. Even on her best jumps she had trouble finding the board and felt off.
“I thought everything went wrong,” she said. “I was waiting for my coach to say I need to get more height or something. But everything was perfect. I was just behind the board.”
Clayton saw the jump as a sign of potential things to come and that’s the same way Roslyn junior Emily Lipari can look at her race. Lipari outkicked Cornwall’s Aisling Cuffe and Samantha Nadel of North Shore in the last 250 to win the 3,200 in 10:21.32. Cuffe lead most of the race with Lipari stalking behind. Lipari looked uncomfortable and choppy and Cuffe looked like she would run away with it until Lipari found a second wind on the back stretch of the bell lap.
“I didn’t really feel like me today,” Lipari said. “But when you to that point, you figure that you’ve already run six laps. You’ve gone all this way. I just kind of found something and tried to make a move on her.”
Lipari said she didn’t feel great when the race started and the wind on the home stretch invited her to sit behind Cuffe and draft off her. She said based on the way she felt, she was surprised with the time.
“I really wanted to redeem myself because I really haven’t had a good 2-mile race in about a year,” hse said. “I was actually surprised with the time but that was about what I was looking for.”
Hempstead senior Charlene Lipsey won the 800in 2:09.58, a pedestrian time compared to the 2:05.78 she clocked at the St. Anthony’s Invitational last weekend. Lipsey led the entire race but never found the aggression that she displayed a week ago.
“Sometimes it’s better to take the pace and sometimes it’s hard,” she said before turning to her coach. “Everyone’s always sitting on me. Nobody wants to go.”
The field did stay content to sit behind Lipsey while she trotted through the first lap in 63 seconds but never changed gears again until 100 meters left and Garden City’s Emily Menges breathing down her neck. Menges finished second in 2:10.61.
“Being that I ran 2:05, it’s more pressure on me,” Lipsey said. “I didn’t want to go out too hard and die. I guess I played it safe today.”
Teammate Velma Morant won the 100 meters in 12.24 but wasn’t satisfied with her race knowing that she has run well under 12 seconds while racing in Jamaica.
“I’m not happy,” she said. “I really don’t know what happened. I guess I didn’t really have a good start.”
North Babylon’s Vanessa Stewart also showed some frustration after winning the shot put with a toss of 43-10. Stewart pulled out of the competition after her second attempt because of pain in her right knee.
“I did awful,” Stewart said. “I’m just have a lot of pains and it’s not fun. … After the slide (on the second attempt) I felt a pop. I felt something in my knee.”
Stewart said she wouldn’t miss any time though and that she’s felt the same pain in her knee before.
“I’m going to suck it up,” she said. “I’m going to throw. I cried. But I laughed. I’m going to throw.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.