Male Athlete of the Week: Hayes off to strong start for Warriors

Jacquari Hayes

STEPHENS CITY – Jacquari Hayes picked up right where he left off.

The Sherando junior didn’t waste any time in putting up impressive numbers in his jumps for the Warriors track team. Hayes finished first in the long jump with a new personal record of 21-00.50 and second in the triple jump (40-00.00) in Saturday’s Arrowhead Invitational held at Sherando.

“For the long jump I was really just trying to get a feel for it, get back into the flow of things.” Hayes said. “I wasn’t really expecting to go ahead and jump a 21 feet. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

Hayes also was part of the second place 4×100 relay team, and finished seventh in the 100-meter run (12.09) in the meet. Hayes also had to deal with the weather and perform in the rain and snow, making his meet even more impressive.

His strong showing earned Hayes The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for the week of March 22-28.

Last year Hayes finished fifth in the triple jump at the Group 4A state meet, but said he didn’t have his best day in the triple jump on Saturday.

He said he was seeded 20th last year entering the state meet and was surprised at how well he did.

“In my mind I was just like ‘calm down, you’ll do fine,'” Hayes said of his state experience. “Really, I was just out there trying to compete, and I ended up springing out a good jump and ended up placing fifth.”

Sherando coach Tom Grim said that he could see a real difference in Hayes at the end of last season, and that’s carried over into this year.

“Right toward the end of the season last year his technique improved so much,” Grim said. “Taking off the board and his approach, all those things just starting coming together. So this year he’s focused on the actual technique of the jump, and so he’s working really, really hard both on the track and over in the pits.”

Grim said he wasn’t surprised by Hayes’ leap in the long jump, because he thought that he would pull off a big one early in the season, and it’s a sign of things to come.

Hayes said that he started participating in track in seventh grade, and as the years went on began to enjoy the sport more and more.

He said one of the biggest things he learned last year was to stay calm and focused.

“A lot of times I just like to clear my mind and focus on just that jump,’ Hayes said. “Make it to the pit, just do what you’ve been working on.”

Grim said that Hayes has something that a lot of jumpers don’t have.

“He’s got a lot of explosion in his legs,” Grim said. “At the point of contact with the board he really explodes off of the board, and I think that kind of sets him apart from other guys.”

The Warriors finished second as a team in last weekend’s meet, and Hayes said he feels good about how they can do this season.

He also has some solid goals for himself for the rest of the year.

“I’m trying to make it to states for both long and triple, and hopefully our 4×1 team will do really well and we can make it to states,” Hayes said.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com