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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jakobe Ford jumps where no Junior Olympian has gone before

Shadle Park graduate Jakobe Ford keeps leaping into the record books. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s no small feat that Jakobe Ford captured the Triple Crown in jumps at the state high school meet in late May.

For the recent Shadle Park graduate to do the same at the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic championships was downright impressive.

In what is believed to be an unprecedented performance, Ford claimed a national Triple Crown at Lawrence, Kansas.

Over the course of five days, Ford won the long jump (24 feet, 6 1/4 inches), the triple jump (51-7 3/4) and capped it Sunday by taking the high jump (7- 1/2) in the 17-18 age division.

Late Sunday, Ford was soaking in that he is the No. 1-ranked jumper in the nation for his age.

“It feels great,” Ford said in a phone interview. “I feel accomplished.”

At the start of summer, Ford set a goal of being the national champ in all three jumps. Even by doing so, he said he exceeded his dreams considering the marks he posted.

In two of the three jumps – the long and triple – Ford broke personal bests.

His long jump topped his previous best of 23-8 1/2 that won a state title and his triple jump blew away his previous best of 49-2 1/4, which crushed the field at state.

In the long jump, his winning mark came on his first attempt.

“I was just feeling good,” Ford said.

The same thing happened in the triple jump. His first attempt was in the low 51 range before he hit his personal record on his second attempt.

After vaulting 7- 1/2 in the high jump, Ford took three attempts at 7-4 – which would have broken his previous best of 7- 3/4.

“I was pretty close,” Ford said.

His performance is all the more notable considering his summer training was limited. He worked out at Spokane Falls Community College, but the high jump pit was unavailable.

“All I did was work on my triple jump,” Ford said.

Ford’s completion of the Triple Crown was all over Twitter on Sunday and Monday. A longtime Washington sportswriter, Todd Milles of the Tacoma News Tribune, noted on Twitter that Ford’s feats may be the most outstanding all time in the state.

Ford is done competing for the summer. He’ll head to Texas Tech – an NCAA Division I school known for its jumping program – in late August.

A tweet posted by Texas Tech track on Monday said Ford is the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.

Ford said he wants to qualify for the NCAA outdoor national championships next spring in all three jumps.

His goal last spring was to reach 24 feet in the long and eclipse 50 in the triple. As it turned out, he had to wait a couple of more months.

Ford is already thinking about the next challenges. He wants to eclipse 25 feet in the long and land somewhere between 52 and 53 in the triple along with 7-6 in the high.

To put it in perspective, Track and Field News lists these marks as the all-time high school records – 7-7 in high jump, 26-10 in long and 54-10 1/4 in triple.

How long it takes Ford to get within eyesight of those marks remains to be seen. Right now, he plans to relish in his spectacular spring and summer seasons.