While everyone was gearing up to watch the Olympics in late July, Jordon Washington was participating in them — on a lesser scale.
The Warrenton sophomore qualified for the Junior Olympics after an exceptional summer as a member of the Breeze Track Club. He competed in the 100- and 200-meter races at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., on July 26.
While he didn’t perform as well as desired, Washington still finished among the top 40 sprinters in the nation.
“It was awesome,” said Washington. “The stands were packed and they had a big screen like at the real Olympics, with a time clock at the finish line.”
The opportunity to compete on a national level came by chance, when Washington found out one of his high school teammates’ relatives coached a track club in St. Louis. Warrenton sprinter Devin Ray’s uncle, David Ray, asked Washington to train with his group and was thrilled at the progress he made.
“He’s a fast learner,” said Ray. “He absorbs everything that you teach him.”
“He asked if I was interested in doing summer track and told me I would have a chance to compete nationally,” recalled Washington.
He had intended to continue running without interruption following the conclusion of his high school season at the Class 3 sectional meet in late May. But he suffered an ankle sprain while playing dodge ball on the final day of school and wasn’t able to train again until the middle of June.
“We were doing our best to get him back to full strength,” said Ray.
“I was going to start training as soon as summer got here, but I had to take some time off,” said Washington. “I came back just in time for districts.”
He participated in three major events this summer.
A strong showing at the St. Louis district meet helped him advance to regionals in Lawrence, Kan., where he ran against competitors from the Missouri Valley states.
Washington finished among the top five in both sprint events, earning him a trip to the Olympics. He was one of three athletes representing Missouri in Baltimore.
While he isn’t looking to make excuses, Washington says a flight delay while waiting for his connection in Cleveland caused him to arrive in Baltimore at 2 a.m. With his first race at 10 a.m., time for quality rest was limited. Factor his fatigue with the nervousness inflicted by the magnitude of the event, and Washington says the challenge went beyond running.
“I was kind of nervous, but I suppressed it pretty well,” said Washington. “My real issue was being tired.”
He clocked an 11.58-second finish in the 100-meter.
Washington was able to catch up on rest before his 200-meter race, which he ran in 23.5 seconds.
Neither of his times was good enough to advance beyond the prelimary heats, as Washington faced the best competition of his career. The winning 100-meter time was 10.77 seconds.
“I learned what’s it going to be like next year and got the drive to work harder,” said Washington. “It showed me what other kids are capable of outside of our area.”
Washington plans to continue training during the school year, working with a trainer in St. Louis every other weekend. He has set his sights on reaching the MSHSAA Championships next spring, after falling one step short as a freshman.