Brown dominates long jump, javelin

Brown dominates long jump, javelin

Alexxis Brown (10) stared down all 87 feet of Mt. Carmel’s faded, red long-jump runway and took two deep breaths.

It was the Mt. Carmel Field and Distance Invite, March 3, the first invitational of the year and Brown wanted to prove herself to her coaches and teammates.

“Coming into this season, I really wanted to make a statement for myself and just give my everything,” Brown said. “I wanted to do that by breaking a school record.”

As Brown took off down the runway, one stride after another, the only thing on her mind was 17’3’’, the school record for the long jump—a record she hoped to shatter.

As the distance between her and the pit closed, she launched herself into the air and crashed down into the hot sand. And just like that, it was over. She knew it was a solid jump.

But as she got ready to pick herself up out of the sand, she started to reflect on how far she had come—as both an athlete and as a person.

The hot sand around her ankles became a lacquer wood floor and the open stadium became the hallway near her living room. For a moment, she imagined she was at home, staring at a handful of photographs and awards on the hallway wall.

One of the photos stands out to her in particular. In it a woman stands smiling on the field at Dreamstyle Stadium.

“My mom had just won her race at the University of New Mexico,” Brown said. “I remember I would always look at this picture and wish to be able to do the same thing my mom did. Even to this day, I look at it quite often.”

In high school, her mother broke her school’s record for the 100-meter hurdles and had offers from colleges like the University of Oregon and the University of New Mexico by her senior year.

“She ended up taking a full-ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico and ran hurdles there for the first two years of college,” Brown said.

However, Brown’s mother wanted to take her career a step further, with aspirations of becoming an Olympic athlete. But in her sophomore year, she shattered the ball of her foot. Despite being distraught, she didn’t give up hope.

She took a year off as a “redshirt,” a college athlete who is withdrawn from sporting events during one year to develop skills and extend the period of playing eligibility by a further year, transferred schools, and made one last attempt to try out for Arizona State University’s team, junior year. But, all the odds seemed against her as she broke her foot yet again, forever ending her track career—and her greatest passion.

“My mom told me that she was extremely depressed about this at the time because all she ever wanted to do was compete in the Olympics,” Brown said. “But when I was little, she still shared her passion for track with me and encouraged me to give it a try myself.”

And so, since the age of 7, Brown has been determined to continue where her mother left off in trying to become an Olympian. Every morning, before school, she would tag along with her mother and father, who also ran track in college, to go to the local high school’s track.

“I would run and sprint start to get familiarized with the track and my parents showed me what the different events were,” Brown said. “I kind of thought it was fun and I just used it as a time to get all of my energy out. But my passion for the sport really developed when I learned about my mom’s past.”

In middle school, Brown joined the Millenium Express track club, where she started polishing her technique and specialized in the heptathlon, which includes the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, the high jump, the javelin throw, the shot put, and the 200 and 800-meter. She pushed herself constantly, improving every year in each event, especially the long jump.

But all of that would momentarily come to a halt in the spring of 2014 when Brown was competing in the long jump at a meet at Morse High School. She said she was performing very well at the meet, but as she slammed her feet on the ground and prepared to launch herself into the air in the long jump, she heard a loud pop in her right knee, a loud pop that caused her to lose her balance and tumble into the sand, a loud pop that caused her to leave the meet early and pay a visit to the hospital—this loud pop was what would sideline her from track for the next six months. But more than that, this loud pop brought a lot of fear and frustration to Brown.

At the hospital, her MRI brought some very dismal results—she had torn her meniscus.

“I was honestly so devastated,” Brown said. “My mom was also really sad because she knew what it was like to go through an injury in this kind of situation.”

As she let the news sink in, all kinds of questions raced through her mind. What was she going to do? How was she going to stay in shape and compete with everyone when she came back? Would she even be able to return to track? Would she ever have a chance at the Olympics at this rate, or would she end up like her mother?

“It sucked and it was really nerve-wracking, but with the way I loved track so much, there was no way I could give up on it,” Brown said. “During those six months, I went through really intensive physical therapy.”

By the end of the six months, Brown performed a variety of weightlifting and stretching exercises and said she came back to track at full speed. Since her recovery, she said her skill improved like never before, as if becoming an Olympian meant life or death. In fact, Brown has set herself up on the right track for her future aspirations as she has made a name for herself in the javelin throw, where she ranked fifteenth in the nation last year. In the long jump and sprints, she also excelled, competing on varsity and garnering the title, Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year, at Westview’s end-of-the-year banquet.

But because the javelin throw wasn’t a California high school event and she had not broken any school records, Brown said she made it her mission to try to do so the next season by training hard in the offseason, especially in the long jump.

And now, here she was getting up from her first jump of the season at the Mt. Carmel Field and Distance Invite. As she did so, her eardrums were met with the screaming and cheering of her teammates and coach Jamal Felton. Looking up at the board, her distance read 17’9’’—she had just broken the school record.

“It was honestly the most memorable moment of my entire track and field career,” Brown said. “Nothing is comparable to the feeling and I just felt like I did something important for my school.”

Several minutes later, she beat her own record with a distance of 18’8’’, nearly a foot more than the record that had been held before this day. Brown’s performance in the long jump was exceptional according to her teammates and coaches. So was her 200-meter time, March 29, where she easily beat everyone in her heat by almost two seconds. However, all of this is just one small step in her long journey to the big stage.

“I still have a long way to go and I need to keep getting better,” Brown said. “I don’t ever want to get satisfied with where I am because there will always be people who are also trying to get better.”

But regardless of what happens, she said she will never forget the woman who holds such a special place in her heart—the woman who inspired her to join track, to run and jump for as long as she can remember.

“I will always love my mom for everything that she has done,” Brown said. “She gave me the mindset to accomplish what she did, but go even further with my dreams. But most of all, she is a strong, inspirational woman that I aspire to grow up and be like.”