Alissa Braxton has found her niche, even if it came on a whim. Toward the end of her freshman year, the Commack long jumper decided to try triple jumping. She had seen her brothers and various teammates do it in the past and she figured she’d give it a shot. Less than two years later, she has the best triple jump mark in the country this season.
Braxton hit 40 feet, two inches at the Suffolk League I championships last weekend, the longest jump in the nation as of Friday, according to milesplit.com.
Braxton hit 40 feet at a Suffolk crossover meet on Dec. 23, which was the best mark in the nation, until she bested it last weekend
“It feels weird, but it’s exciting at the same time,” Braxton said. “Never in my past did I think I’d be number one in New York or the U.S. So, being there now is really crazy to me. It’s just all coming together at once.”
Little things matter in track and field, and nothing proves this more than the story of Braxton’s first 40-foot flight. In her case, for that day at least, it was all in the hair.
“I had taken out my braids the day before and I had my hair slicked back in a pony tail,” Braxton said. “It may have been the fact that I was lighter. I was so used to accommodating for my hair, that when I took it out, I just jumped so much farther.”
Braxton said she’s since put the braids back in her hair, but that didn’t stop her from consistently hitting high-38 or mid-39 feet jumps in early January and finally breaking the 40-foot plateau last week.
“In the beginning of the season, I made sure I was getting my steps down and being very consistent with how I run and working on my strength,” she said. “You have to make sure you’re strong enough so, after you run, you can push yourself to go farther.”
Braxton, who went to the outdoor state championships in the long jump last year, is way ahead of schedule with her triple jumping. Forty feet was a goal of hers, but an extremely long-term one.
“I was surprised,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it that far [this school year]. I was thinking that I’d get 40 by senior year, but it just so happened that I got it at the beginning of my junior year.”
So, what do you do when you hit your long-term goal nearly a year ahead of schedule? Set new goals, of course.
“I’m trying to get past 40,” she said. “Maybe get 41 or 42 and try to aim bigger.”