CHARLESTON – Bureau Valley’s Jade Aber entered the triple jump competition at the Class 1A Girls State Track and Field meet as the athlete to beat, based on sectional performance.
She didn’t disappoint.
Aber took first place with a distance of 11.13 meters to earn a comfortable win Thursday afternoon in O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. The win was a satisfying one, as she delivered as the favorite.
“It’s very nerve-wracking, because I feel like everybody’s looking at me,” Aber said. “I watch everybody and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, they’re so good.’ For me, if I didn’t perform as I should have, then I would have been like, ‘Oh my God, I let so many people down.’”
Aber’s first jump of 10.7 meters was a decent start, but not up to her standards. The eye-opener came when Salt Fork’s Brynlee Keeran posted an 11.02-meter effort, putting Aber on the spot.
That helped spur Aber on to a greater distance – the eventual winning distance of 11.13 meters.
“Honestly, I think it was my competition,” Aber said. “I was like, ‘Oh no, she just jumped one higher than me. I’ve got to pick it up here. This is state.’ I just looked at my competition, and I guess they pushed me to do better.”
Of her four jumps, Aber was partial to her last one, when asked which one was the most technically sound. That was just 10.93 meters, though.
Aber claims she didn’t know she was in the lead at the time.
“My last jump, I felt really good about, but it didn’t go as far as my second jump,” Aber said. “I wish I would have known that I was ahead. I thought the girl [Keeran] had jumped farther than me, but she didn’t. I guess I was listening wrong. I would have been in such a better mood if I had known she didn’t.
“At the end I was like, ‘You know what, I did the best I could.’ That’s all that matters.”
Aber is Bureau Valley’s second individual female state champion. She joins Alisa Baron, who won the 400 in 2008.