Saginaw Boswell track star Jalen Seals is jumping into his future.
Not in a time-travel sense, but the junior is already on the radar of major college track programs across the country thanks to his leaping ability.
Nationally ranked, Seals has already set school records in the long jump and triple jump, and at one point this season had the longest high school outdoor triple jump in the country.
His jump of 49 feet, 6 1/2 inches Feb. 25 in the Ben Davis Relays at White Settlement Brewer has since been bested by a California jumper, but dropping to No. 2 just gives him another incentive to improve.
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Not that he needs it. Seals qualified for the UIL Class 5A state meet last season, but a nagging foot injury kept him from performing at his best on the state’s biggest stage. Last year, 49- 1/4 won the triple jump in 5A. Seals was eighth.
“Obviously he’s a competitor and it bothered him that he didn’t do very well,” Boswell track coach Chad Jones said.
Seals has long taken an interest in track and field, since watching his older sister do it. It’s now the only sport he participates in — a rarity for such an athletic person in a state powered by its almost religious devotion to football, which he did play in middle school.
“The coaches joke around with it, but they know I’m not going to come back,” Seals said.
Jalen is obviously gifted. To be good at any jump you’ve got to have some explosiveness. He can run, he’s fast, and at the same time he’s got great explosiveness.
Saginaw Boswell jump coach Jeremy Mullins on Jalen Seals
Instead, he’s turned his focus to track and field, and in particular jumping events, which will undoubtedly be his ticket to college. Boswell jump coach Jeremy Mullins arrived two years ago, just as Seals was starting to develop his affinity for jumps.
“Jalen is obviously gifted. To be good at any jump you’ve got to have some explosiveness. He can run, he’s fast, and at the same time he’s got great explosiveness,” Mullins said. “With that said, since his freshman year he has spent a lot of time toward the jumping events. He’s put a lot of work and effort into honing in those little techniques and skills that really make the difference.”
It’s really fun. There’s a lot of great jumpers here. I talk to them a lot. I watch their form and what they’re doing and what works for them.
Jalen Seals on competing in the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet in New York City
This past month, Seals qualified for the prestigious New Balance Nationals Indoor meet, held March 11-13 in New York City.
“It’s really fun. There’s a lot of great jumpers here,” Seals said from the event. “I talk to them a lot. I watch their form and what they’re doing and what works for them, especially the guy who jumped really far,” referring to Rayvon Grey of New York, who set the meet record in long jump at 26 feet, ¼ inches.
Seals went 24 feet, 4 ¼ inches in the long jump, good enough for third, but managed just ninth in the triple jump with 47 feet, 6 ¼ inches.
Back from New York, Seals’ focus is now back on his high school season and helping Boswell. In addition to the jumps, he runs the 110 hurdles and on the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
“He’s a great teammate as well,” Jones said. “Track is very individualized, but he also understands the points for the team helps and the relays are double the points. He’s one of the captains on the team.”
As much as the jumping events are the headline for Seals, he relishes the running events as well.
“It’s nice to do all the events. Running kind of gets me excited,” Seals explained. “Sometimes we run during the jumping. Those seem to be when I jump my best.”
National high school leaders, 2016
1. Justin Apilado, Newark (Calif.) Memorial
2. Jalen Seals, Saginaw Boswell
3. Dennis Hicks, Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty
4. Calvin Scott, Lake Nona, Fla.
5. Dexter Neboh, Odessa Permian
6. Jimmy Enobabor, Mansfield Lake Ridge
1. Lawrence White, Ridgeview, Calif.
2. Isa Bynum, Suitland, Md.
3. Kene Nwangwu, Frisco Heritage
4. Isaiah Holmes, Oakmont, Calif.
5. Anthony Cable, Rodriguez, Calif.
6. Michael Mitchell, Tesoro, Calif.
7. Jalen Seals, Saginaw Boswell