Some had expected the 3A girls long jump competition at the State Track and Field Championships to be a tight battle. Mountlake Terrace’s Chinne Okoronkwo proved those expectations were wrong.
Okoronkwo cruised to a win in the field event with not one but three efforts that beat her closest competition on Friday. The junior’s winning mark of 18 feet easily topped second place Brittni Williams of Auburn Riverside, whose jump of 17-04.75 was a quarter-inch better than third place Allison Stapleton of Kamiakin.
With the win, Okoronkwo is now a two-time state champion in the 3A girls long jump. She won the event last year as a sophomore; in 2013, as a freshman, Okoronkwo finished sixth.
Despite picking up the champions’ medal, Okoronkwo had hoped to jump farther than her winning effort of 18-00 in the big state meet held at Mount Tahoma High School. “It was pretty far under my PR (personal record),” she said. “You’re not too happy when you jump that far under your PR, but at least it got the job done.”
Okoronkwo came into the state competition with only the second-best qualifying mark among the field this season; Stapleton, a sophomore, had jumped an 18-07 in her district meet a week ago to claim the No. 1 seed at state, but only had one effort over 17-00.05 on Friday.
“I was surprised; I didn’t think an 18-foot jump would win it. I thought it would have to be at least 18-10 or something like that,” Okoronkwo said.
While Stapleton and the other jumpers may have collapsed under the pressure of competing at state, Okoronkwo explained that she likes jumping in the big meets. “I feed off of the atmosphere,” she said. “With bigger meets there are more people in the stands. And then when there’s competition; you take a jump and you beat them, then they take a jump and they beat you. That gets you going; you want to jump.”
Okoronkwo will get to feel the thrill of the big meet again as she is scheduled to compete in the girls triple jump and pole vault events on Saturday. The junior is the two-time defending 3A girls triple jump champion; she has finished in second place at state both as a freshman and as a sophomore in the pole vault.
After the state meet Okoronkwo will be competing in more big meets this summer, including the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Havana, Cuba, on June 13. Okoronkwo is one of 28 U.S. high schoolers who have been invited to compete in the special meet.
Although Okoronkwo has competed overseas before, this will be her first trip to Cuba. “I am very excited to go,” she said.
– By Doug Petrowski
3A Girls State Long Jump results, May 29
- 1. Chinne Okoronkwo (MTHS) 18-00.00
- 2. Brittni Williams (Auburn Riverside) 17-04.75
- 3. Allison Stapleton (Kamiakin) 17-04.50
- 4. (tie) Brooke Williams (Columbia River) 17-02.50
- 4. (tie) Bianca Acuario (Marysville-Pilchuck) 17-02.50
- 6. Lindsey Schauble (Kamiakin) 17-00.25
- 7. Jessica Ludwig (Arlington) 17-00.00
- 8. Chase Hagar (Ballard) 16-08.25