In 2022, something unprecedented happened. The New York State Indoor Title was won by an 8th Grade Boy. It's one of, if not the only, few times that has ever happened in the Empire State, even considering the girls as well, who mature at an earlier age. Surely, the name Rhoan Kaulder (McQuaid) was one to watch.
His mark of 22-10.5 to win the State Meet was an 8th Grade State Record, partially because records weren't kept for that age before, but also because it surpassed even the Freshman State Record at the time. Kaulder continued to Outdoor Track, where he would jump 22-0, just shy of the recorded 8th Grade Best of 22-3.5 set back in 2010 by Jordan Hackworth (Dryden). From there, it was off to the youth scene, where Kaulder got his start in age-group running, and he managed to win the USATF Junior Olympic Title in the event, as well as place in the 100m and 200m.
2023 started with a bang. Kaulder opened his season with a win, jumping 21-8.5 at RIT, a mark that still stands as NY #12. It may not have been a personal best for the now-freshman, but it did surpass the standing Freshman State Record. That mark stood at 21-6.5 and was held by Jermaine Johnson (White Plains), set all the way back in 1988. Things were looking strong for the jumps in Section 5, with all-time marks by several female athletes as well.
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As the Season progressed, Kaulder's marks stood fast. Fellow Section 5 stud Manuel Sepulveda (East Rochester) was nabbing headlines, as he was State Leader in both the Long and Triple Jump. But behind him, a new name was emerging. 18-feet in December, but opening the new year with a big Personal Best of 21-0.5, Aiden Bryant (Midlakes) was gaining some credibility in the pits. He too was a freshman, unusual for a male athlete to put in those big numbers at such a young age. With two more jumps at or over 20-feet for the remainder of January, the big leap came this past weekend.
Jumping at RIT on Saturday, Bryant let out a monster leap of 22-4 to capture the newly minted Freshman State Record. It's the fourth furthest distance in New York so far, and ranks as US#1 for Class of 2026. There is still some breathing room on the Freshman National Record of 24-5, but it wouldn't be unheard of to start thinking of the New York Freshman Outdoor Record of 23-4 either.
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The pair will get a chance to face off at the State Qualifiers this February, where the stakes are high. Not only will the two freshman be facing off each other, but Sepulveda will be involved, as will Elijah Evans (Greece-Arcadia), a senior who has jumped 22-1. With only three spots available at the State Meet, all jumpers will have to bring their best to the board.