Moment #1 - Alissa Braxton Shatters Indoor State TJ Record
Sometimes, the impact of a performance can hardly be felt in the moment. Such can be said of Alissa Braxton (Commack) jumping to a State Record at Ocean Breeze. But before we get to the results of the jump, let's track the moment itself.
As a Sophomore, Braxton was on nobodies radar. She finished 2018 as the 31st best jumper in New York State, with a NWI jump of 37-7.25. It placed her fourth at the Section 11 State Qualifier at the time. A good jump, her best of the season, but not even close to indicating what would come a year later. Flash forward to December 2018, and Braxton was just opening her season. Still an unknown at the State Level, Braxton opened up her season at 35-6. A week later, she ended with an effort of 37-1.5, hardly getting any attention. A week after that, it was 38-4, quietly moving up the State Rankings. On December 22nd, Alissa Braxton would grab her first attention. Her fourth straight week of competition at Suffolk Community College, Braxton jumped a new personal best of 40-0.
It was a big deal. Since 2015, only one athlete had ever broken 39-feet indoors. The mark was such a big improvement in Braxton's career, their was some skepticism behind the mark. Was the pit low? Did the official read the tape correctly? Rarely do improvements like those happen so quickly, but we were seeing it in the Long Jump with our Moment #4 athlete, Kenneth Wei, so anything was possible. The doubts didn't last long. Continuing her streak of competing every weekend, Braxton followed up her mark next week, with a jump of 39-4.25, showing she was capable of those big marks. But 40-feet was still a big deal, it would probably be her best of the season, on a "lucky" jump.
The season continued for four more weeks, and only once did Braxton jump somewhere other than Suffolk CC. However around high 38's, the consistency seemed to reaffirm where Braxton might top out. That is, until she improved upon her 40-0 jump, now hitting 40-2 to win her League Title, and setting her up for her first outing of the year at Ocean Breeze, where she would be contending for a State Title later in the year. With the confidence in her mark, she headed to the Ocean Breeze High School Invitational on Jan 27th.
It was one of the largest Girls-only meets in the Country. As is typical for the Field Event athlete, the crowd was focused on the track. Braxton, the top seed, was to jump last. Setting up her jump, she sprinted down the runway. Bam! Her three phases came perfectly, albeit more left on the tank through the skip. She had smashed her first effort, improving a near foot on her previous personal best, hitting 41-3. On her first attempt, Braxton put out the best effort seen by a New Yorker since the State Record was set in 2001. Clearly, she had won the competition with a single jump, so she went for broke, fouling the next two jumps, in an effort to put one out there, riding the hot streak. Plus, she still had finals.
The prelims would be sent to the booth, and the mark immediately stood out. The meet organizers directed the crowds attention to the pit, and the pressure was on. Now, Braxton was in the spotlight, with nothing to lose. Opening up the round, she put out a 37-5, finding her rhythm again after the break. Back in the groove, her second attempt came at 40-9, what would have been a huge improvement on her best, if not for the first jump. But Braxton knew there was something left in the tank. With one final jump, and the crowd watching, she sprinted down the runway one final time. With an audible thump of the track, three times over, she hopped, skipped, jumped into the pit, with the crowd realizing it was a big one. Big enough to be our Top Moment of the Year.
The official measured with the laser, and read off the final mark. 41-9.75. The mark was a new Overall State Record in the Triple Jump, bypassing right past the Class State Record. Her jump still stands as the Ocean Breeze High School Venue Record, and Braxton was promptly awarded Athlete of the Meet. It was a five-foot-personal best improvement since the end of her Outdoor campaign as a Sophomore, and almost two feet better than the seed she came in with. Braxton would go the rest of the season, never finishing a competition under 40-ft. Her Season included her first State Title, and a 4th place finish at Indoor Nationals. Outdoors, she repeated those accomplishments, moving to 3rd at Nationals, and pushing her Personal Best to an incredible wind-legal 42-0.25 at the Loucks Games, the third best jump by a New Yorker ever, and the Junior State Record. Not bad for a season that started with a 35-6 at Suffolk Community College.
The Impact of 41-9.75
Whether the jump served as the catalyst or the result, one thing was to be sure. Triple Jumping in 2019 had reached a new level. In athletics, the cliche "a rising tide lifts all boats" proved true. Braxton had shown what was possible for Triple Jumping. But the rest of the State was not about to let her walk away with a State Title. Nadia Saunders (North Rockland) was the reigning State Champion in the TJ coming into the season, the same grade as Braxton. She had won that title at 38-7. With Braxton jumping as well as she did, Saunders knew she had to get better. She jumped up to a best of 39-9.25 Indoors, and pushing that to a runner-up mark of 41-6.5 at Outdoor States. It was the best ever second place mark in State History. Two more girls cleared 40-feet this year, Euphenie Andre (Dover) and Dieusi Armand (Westbury), making for the highest number of girls over that barrier in State History. The depth continued downwards. 11 girls had cleared 39-feet, two more than ever before, and a dramatic increase over the past decade. The State as a whole saw the event revolutionized, in no small part by what was happening up top.
The Girls were not the only beneficiaries of this surge in performance. The Boys, too, saw a big jump in their performance. Jeremiah Willis (CNS) swept the jumps his junior year, but was only fourth best in 2019, PR'ing to 49-7.5. Salif Mane (Taft) was the breakout of the year for the Boys, hitting 50-8.5 Indoors for US #3, and following that up with 51-1.5 for US #3 Outdoors. Jadan Hanson (Uniondale) broke the Junior State Record Indoors with his 50-6 mark for bronze at Indoor Nationals. Meldon Grant (Manhasset) had a likewise breakthrough at Outdoor Nationals, taking a podium spot with a 50-0.5 jump in Greensboro. Never before did we have three athletes over 50-feet in the same year for the Boys.
Again, it's hard to track whether Braxton started the revolution, or took part. But her jumps were the face of the event in 2019, an event which saw depth and heights like never before in New York. And for that, she has earned the Top Moment of 2019.
Braxton Smashes Indoor State Record
Alissa Braxton Athlete Feature Spotlight
Braxton Takes Outdoor Junior Record
2019 Girls' All-Conditions Leaderboard
Cicero-North Syracuse (CNS)
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Taft Educational Campus
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