Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2005

Freshman phenom: Jenkins breaks Lansing record for hurdles twice

April 7, 2005

Lansing High's track coaches were stunned when freshman Takeisha Jenkins broke the school record in the 300-meter hurdles in just her first high school track meet.

Jenkins' time of 49.05 on Friday at the Baldwin Invitational broke the previous record of 49.06 that Cindi Raymond set in 1988.

Raymond's record stood for 17 years. Jenkins' new mark lasted all of four days. She topped her own record by more than two seconds on Tuesday at the Lansing Invitational when she smoked the field in 46.86 seconds for a new career best in just her second prep meet.

Not bad someone whose only prior hurdles experience was running the 75-meter hurdles in middle school.

"I was at school and people kept encouraging me to do the 300," Jenkins said. "I didn't really want to do it because I thought it was too long for me, but I tried it."

The rest is history.

Errol Logue has been coaching Lansing track for more than 30 years, and he said Jenkins is one of the rarest talents he has come across. He said he was hesitant to overhype her at such an early stage in her career, but he said she definitely is a special athlete. In fact, he compared her to Lansing track legend Deidre Hyatte, who won the state title in the 100-meter hurdles in 1985 and 1987 and also placed second in the 100-meter dash and fourth in the long jump.

Hyatte is the only woman in Lansing track history to be an individual state champion. Jenkins could be the next.

"I'm afraid to overplay it, but she may be a once-in-a-career type of athlete if she keeps going," Logue said. "Takeisha, as you can see, has got an awful lot of talent, and she's an awful nice girl."

Logue said he thought Jenkins' time would have qualified her to compete at the Kansas Relays in Lawrence on April 21-23, but the deadline to submit entries already had passed. Competitors at that meet tend to qualify based on times from the previous year.

Logue said he would take Jenkins to the Shawnee Mission North Relays in May, though. The North Relays are widely regarded as one of the best tune-ups for the state championship anywhere in Kansas.

Logue said it was important to find Jenkins top-notch competition to push her to run faster. Jenkins echoed those sentiments as she expressed her desire to improve. She learned a key lesson Tuesday when she was disqualified from the 100-meter hurdles after a false start. In fact, she said she was so nervous after the false start that she hesitated at the beginning of the 300 hurdles.

Jenkins said she wasn't yet comfortable with the longer hurdles race and said she needed to improve her running on the curve and at the finish.

"In the 300 I'm really good until I get to the last two hurdles," she said. "I get really tired. If I work on that I think I can get a better time."

Logue said he is certain that if Jenkins continues to work hard there's no telling how good she could be.

"There's just no way you can measure (how fast she'll run)," he said. "There's a limit out there she's going to hit as a freshman, but right now she hasn't hit it, and it's hard to estimate how good she can be. She might be somebody that (talent-wise) I've never had an opportunity to work with before. It's just too early to tell. But she is talented and she's a nice kid, so what more could you ask for."

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