Alissa Braxton’s dream of a national championship hangs in the balance.
One year ago, the Commack senior capped her junior season by finishing third in the country at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor with a distance of 41 feet, 8.75 inches. First and second place went to a pair of seniors. As the top returning performer this spring, she is one of the favorites to claim the 2020 title.
Now it’s unclear if she will get that chance. School cancellations and the postponement of the spring seasons for athletics on Long Island because of the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak mean nothing is a certainty – not the Suffolk County, New York State or national championships.
“They were the seniors and they finished ahead of me last year. Now I am the senior,” Braxton said. “Over the summer and fall, I have trained to be the best I can be. That not only meant getting stronger, but working on every aspect of my technique. You put lots of little things together and it can add up to something big.
“Now no one knows what will happen with this season.”
The chance at a national championship would be motivation enough for Braxton, who will go to the University of Florida on scholarship next year. But she looks to the spring season with an added dose. After winning state titles in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump as a junior, she didn’t repeat in the indoor season.
Braxton’s best distance during the winter season was 41-10, but at the state meet she went only 40-4 on what she called “a rough day” where she encountered an ankle issue and finished second by one-half inch.
“Indoor didn’t go the way I wanted so I am very motivated for this spring season,” she said. “I am physically 100 percent. I am not over-confident, now what I am capable of. I should have a chance at [nationals] outdoor.”
Her dream in a holding pattern, Braxton holds close her hope for a spring season. She has weight training equipment, a treadmill and an elliptical trainer at home and tries not to let bad scenarios – like the chance there will be no spring season – blur her focus.
“A national championship would be a huge achievement,” Braxton said. “I’d like to get [the] chance for it.”