2012 Preview - Boys Jumps: Texans Watson, Barber, Field get off to fast start

13 months ago (Club Altius Dec. '10 meet), they were just 16-6 and 14-6 vaulters; now Reese Watson and Shawn Barber are both over 17-6 (=#2, #4 all-time) and lead an impressive group of boys jumpers as we start our 2012 National Track Preview series. Donna Dye/ESPNHS

Scroll down for More to Watch, and Top Indoor and Outdoor Returnees

If it all goes according to Reese Watson’s master plan, the senior from Spring (Spring, Texas) could make history this spring in the pole vault.

Already, Watson has kicked off the 2012 campaign with a 17-6 clearance at the Pole Vault Expo Explosion on New Year’s Eve in Belton, Texas – which at the time made him #3 all-time. His goals now include re-writing the national records indoors (17-9.25) and out (18-3) and earning a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the end of June in Eugene, Ore.

Watson is one of three Texans who have already made a huge impact in the boys jumps early this indoor season, a big part of the reason that fireworks are almost guaranteed in this event category in 2012. Just a week after Watson’s clearance, Kingwood Park (Kingwood) senior Shawn Barber topped that with a 17-6.5 at the Texas A&M Classic, equaling #2 all-time. Then last weekend, Lancaster junior Devin Field exploded to a 25-5.75 long jump at the Arkansas Invite, equaling #6 all-time.

And that’s just part of the story. The boys prep jumps corps also this year, nationally, include 2011 World Youth Championship bronze medalists Jacob Blankenship from Ohio (pole vault) and Justin Fondren from Mississippi (high jump), two red-hot sons of Olympic champions (Allex Austin and Cameron Burrell, both also in Texas), and a deep group of triple jumpers than includes four legal 50-footers.

Watson’s preparation paying off

Whether or not he has company in the 17+ range, Watson is focused on the heights he wants to achieve.

“I’ve already gotten a lot faster and stronger,” said the 6-foot-4 Texan, who has a similar build to last year’s US#1 performer indoors and outdoors, Andrew Irwin. “After I jumped 17-6, we put it up to 18, which is close to the Olympic (Trials) standard. For that 18-foot bar there is still a lot of work to do, but it’s not out of reach.”

There were no preps in the field of 27 that competed at the 2008 Trials. In order to achieve the B standard, Watson would have to make 18-0.50. Only four high school vaulters in history have ever gone that high.

“It’d definitely be a dream of mine to compete against some of my role models, such as Brad Walker, and try to compete with some of those guys,” he said.

Watson had an excellent 2011 season, winning at the Texas Relays (17-2), the Class 5A Texas championships, and then hitting his outdoor PR to win the Great Southwest Invitational (17-3) in Albuquerque, N.M. He was the only vaulter in the country to clear 17-2 or better twice outdoors.

An extensive off-season workout program, including once-a-week workouts at Club Altius, paid off with immediate results. Watson will likely take aim at the national indoor record as soon as his next competition. The all-time indoor record of 17-9.25, set last year, by Irwin, came after the indoor competition window ended.

“We thought (a PR) would come pretty quick,” Watson’s coach at Spring, Aaron Shock, said. “He went for 18, but was out of gas. He has a good shot at 17-9. If he’s on, he’ll definitely take a shot at it.”

Watson’s program has been designed to increase speed, which will help him on the runway and also fulfill another one of his goals – running on the Spring’s 4x400 relay.

“I don’t spend much time jumping,” he said. “It’s mostly running and lifting.”

Watson got started in the pole vault in the seventh grade and was introduced to it by his father. “My dad used to (vault) in high school,” he said. “He always helps me out, in workouts, at the meet, or whenever he can.”

For his indoor finale, Watson has the New Balance Indoor Nationals circled on his calendar. “I want to put a big jump out (in New York),” he said.


DEVIN FIELD, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013

His aforementioned 25-5.75 LJ just part of the reason he’s the country’s brightest young horizontal jumper … during monster stretch last spring, he won 2nd straight Texas 4A title (24-11.25w), USATF Juniors on 5th jump (24-8.5w), Pan Am Juniors on 5th jump (24-10.5w), and USATF JOs (US#2 24-10.5) … showed veteran poise all spring, with consistency well beyond his years … also fine TJ’er and hurdler … at Arkansas he also leapt US#1 49-8.25 TJ and ran nation-leading 7.91 60H … 50-1.75w TJ last spring … recently took part in the Project Triple Jump clinic in the Bahamas.

SHAWN BARBER, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012

Wasn’t even a 15-foot vaulter at this time a year ago and who could have thought he’d be where he is now? In February, though, he became a 16-footer and went on to take 2nd in state 4A meet outdoors … by summer’s end, had captured the AAU JOs with a 16-6 … nice improvement in a year, but still, adding a foot to that as he did at Texas A&M January 6 could never have been anticipated … is suddenly the 2nd best vaulter in U.S. history and stage is set for great clashes with him and Watson the rest of the year.

JUSTIN FONDREN, Oxford (Oxford, Miss.) 2012

With US#1 7-2.25, he was the nation’s dominant high jumper last year, having made steady progress upon exceptional freshman (frosh USR 7-0) and sophomore seasons … very consistent, having cleared 7-foot bars at eight meets in 2011 … won World Youth Trials at 7-0.5, then captured bronze at the World Youth Champs in France (6-11.75) … he has openly discussed the ambitious goal of 7-7 (matching Andra Manson’s USR and making Olympic Trials) during his senior year … occupied by basketball in the winter and has never competed indoors.

JACOB BLANKENSHIP, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012

Vaulter’s timely breakthrough last year began with 17-0 at D1 state, beating standout senior twins Joey and Chris Uhle during a watershed year for the event in Ohio … then he went to NBON where eight 17-foot vaulters were assembled and came out on top with PR 17-0.25 … easily qualified for the U.S. team that competed at the World Youth Champs and earned the bronze in France with 16-6.75 … just gearing up for season now and cleared 16-0.75 in low key opener last weekend.

CHRIS BROWN, Hanahan (Hanahan, S.C.), 2012

Amazing finish to 2011 outdoor season puts Brown right at top of list of TJ returnees … on the night he broke 33-year old state TJ record – oldest on the books at the time in South Carolina – he broke it not once, but twice (with a best of 51-2.5) … had two other meets over 50 feet, including NBON, where he finished second (50-6w/50-5.5) … additionally, he went 23-9 in the long jump … he is also part of the NSSF’s Triple Jump Project.

CAMERON BURRELL, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) 2013

Nearly as impressive in the LJ as fellow soph Field last year, he had bests of 24-7 at USATF JOs (2nd to Field) and 24-8w (regional qualifier) … following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Olympic sprinter Leroy Burrell, Cameron represented the U.S. overseas last year … he made the World Youth team with 24-2.25 at Trials, then was 14th in the World Youth prelims … like his dad, he’s also a sprinter, having placed 2nd in state 5A 100 last spring … currently leads the nation at 60 meters indoors with 6.82 and also jumped 23-8.75 in first indoor meet.

IMANI BROWN, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012

Has started fast this indoor season, triple jumping over 48 feet in December to temporarily hold US#1 … reigning champion at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, having jumped 50-6.75w (4.1) in Greensboro last June to beat a field that included Marquis Dendy, Chris Brown and others … followed that up by making the World Youth team, though he didn’t advance to finals in France … earlier, was seventh at NBIN and won the Pennsylvania state championship during the 2011 indoor season.

JOSH DIXON, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012

Became the 2nd TJ’er in state history to surpass 50 ft. when he went 50-4.75 at USATF JOs last July … had an off day in TJ at state meet, but he did win LJ at 23-9.5 … indoors, he has already jumped US#2 49-0.75, finishing 2nd to Field at Arkansas … this spring, he has his sights set on the 29-year-old state TJ mark of 52-4.5, held by 1996 Olympic Champion Kenny Harrison, who set it while competing at Brookfield Central … recently committed to the U. of Arkansas.

ALLEX AUSTIN, San Marcos (San Marcos, Texas), 2012

His father may be 1996 Olympic HJ gold medalist Charles Austin, but Allex didn’t take up the discipline in earnest until last year … even with the good genes, his progress was stunning … was a 6-6 leaper by early March and kept adding inches every few weeks … at his district meet in mid-April, he scaled a then-US#1 7-2 (#3 by year’s end) … would go 6-10 three times, including a clearance that netted him a 5A state title, but consistency is still a work in progress.

LOGAN BRITTAIN, Randall (Amarillo, Texas), 2013

Cleared seven feet in HJ five times in 2011 as soph and won Texas 4A title … also won the Great Southwest Invite when he cleared the bar at 6-11.75 … at 5-foot-10, he is already jumping more than a foot over his head … he is a three-sport standout who also plays football and basketball.

JAELEN SPENCER, Sultana (Hesperia, Calif.), 2013

As a soph, Spencer made big TJ breakthrough to 49-0.5 in mid-May at Southern Section D2 prelims … a week later, bounded to first 50-footer (50-02.25) to win SS Finals … though he was just 3rd at state, bounced back to take World Youth Trials with 50-4.5w … was unable to make finals in France at World Youth Champs, but has lots of potential and bright future.


Lists and records from DyeStat TFX and Jack Shepard's High School Track

OUTDOOR EVENTS - Scroll down for indoor lists

High Jump

National Record: 7-7, Andra Manson, Brenham (Brenham, Texas), 2002

2011 Best: 7-3, Carlos Hernandez, Santa Teresa (Anthony, N.M.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 7-2.25, Justin Fondren, Oxford (Oxford, Miss.), 2012

2. 7-2, Allex Austin, San Marcos (San Marcos, Texas), 2012

3. 7-2, Tyler Donels, Southeast Polk (Pleasant Hill, Iowa), 2012

4. 7-0.25, Errin Baynes, Park (Wheeling, W. Va.), 2012

5. 7-0, Logan Brittain, Randall (Amarillo, Texas), 2013

5. 7-0, Carl Heinz, River Forest (Oak Park, Ill.), 2012

5. 7-0, Brandon Stone, Trenton (Trenton, Fla.), 2012

5. 7-0, Bradley Atkins, Idalou (Idalou, Texas), 2012

9. 6-11, Kevin Spejcher, Lake Park (Roselle, Ill.), 2012

9. 6-11, Noel Frazier, California (San Ramon, Calif.), 2012

9. 6-11, Miles Poullard, Colony (Ontario, Calif.), 2012

9. 6-11, Wally Ellenson, Rice Lake (Rice Lake, Wis.), 2012

9. 6-11, Cody Crampton, Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.), 2012

Pole Vault

National Record: 18-3, Tommy Skipper, Sandy (Sandy, Ore.), 2003

2011 Best: 17-6.5, Andrew Irwin, Mount Ida (Mount Ida, Ark.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 17-3, Reese Watson, Spring (Spring, Texas), 2012

2. 17-0.75, Jacob Blankenship, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012

3. 16-7, Dylan Bell, Alvarado (Alvarado, Texas), 2012

4. 16-6, Josh Sonnen, Midlothian (Midlothian, Texas), 2012

4. 16-6, Dillon Lookout, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.), 2012

4. 16-6, Shawn Barber, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012

7. 16-5.5, Garrett Starkey, Basha (Chandler, Ariz.), 2012

8. 16-3, Marques Hicks, Hallsville (Hallsville, Texas), 2012

9. 16-1, Kyle Padalecki, East Central (San Antonio, Texas), 2012

9. 16-1, Connor Stark, Oak Park (Oak Park, Calif.), 2012

9. 16-1, Patrick Anderson, Kane Area (Kane, Pa.), 2012

Long Jump

National Record: 26-10, Marquise Goodwin, Rowlett (Rowlett, Texas), 2009

2011 Best: 25-0.5, Josh McClam, Holly Springs (Holly Springs, N.C.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 24-10.5, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013

2. 24-7, Cameron Burrell, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas), 2013

3. 24-3.5, Janarion Grant, Pasco (Dade City, Fla.), 2013

4. 23-11, Michael Tillman, Buchholz (Gainesville, Fla.), 2012

5. 23-10.75, Tyris Jefferson, Robert E. Lee (Tyler, Texas), 2012

6. 23-9.75, Jarrion Lawson, Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana, Texas), 2012

7. 23-9, Chris Brown, Hanahan (Halahan, S.C.), 2012

8. 23-8.75, Elijah Mitchell, West (Tracy, Calif.), 2012

9. 23-8.5, Blake Selig, Rio Mesa (Oxnard, Calif.), 2012

10. 23-7.5, Dereck Knott, Colonial (Orlando, Fla.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions

1. 24-11.25, Field

2. 24-8, Burrell

2. 24-8, J.T. Washington, Satellite (Satellite Beach, Fla.), 2012

4. 24-5.75, Lawson

5. 24-3.25, Tevin Coleman, Oak Forest (Oak Forest, Ill.), 2012

6. 24-2, Kaleb Moore, Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas), 2012

6. 24-2, Ryan Jackson, Angleton (Angleton, Texas), 2012

8. 24-0.5, Jerrell Morrow, Emporia (Emporia, Ks.), 2013

Triple Jump

National Record: 54-10.25, Kenny Hall, Tara (Baton Rouge, La.), 2004

2011 Best: 51-3, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 51-2.5, Chris Brown, Hanahan (Halahan, S.C.), 2012

2. 50-4.75, Josh Dixon, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012

3. 50-2.25, Jaelen Spencer, Sultana (Hesperia, Calif.), 2013

4. 50-0, Felix Obi, Franklin (El Paso, Texas), 2012

5. 49-6.25, Imani Brown, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012

6. 48-11.5, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013

7. 48-10, Jarrion Lawson, Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana, Texas), 2012

7. 48-10, Kylvens Delaunay, Claremont (Claremont, Calif.), 2012

9. 48-4.5, Adarius Barnes, Port Gibson (Port Gibson, Miss.), 2012

10. 48-4, Dominique Irons, Haddon Heights (Haddon Heights, N.J.), 2013

10. 48-4, Myles Charley, Spain Park (Hoover, Ala.), 2012

Wind-aided/NWI additions

1. 50-6.75, I. Brown

2. 50-4.5, Spencer

3. 50-1.75, Field

4. 49-1.5, Lawson

5. 49-0.75, Eric England, Mtn. View (Meridian, Id.), 2012

5. 49-0.75, Kylvens Delaunay, Claremont (Claremont, Calif.), 2012

7. 48-9.5, Matthew O’Neal, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.), 2012

8. 48-7.75, David Johnson, Charlottesville (Charlottesville, Va.), 2012

9. 48-4.5, Marcellis Childs, Aransas Pass (Aransas Pass, Texas), 2012

10. 48-4.25, John Warren, Killeen (Killeen, Texas), 2014


**Current Indoor Leader(s) for 2012 listed below returnees for each event.

High Jump

National Record: 7-5.25, Scott Sellers, Cinco Ranch (Katy, Texas), 2004

2011 Best: 7-2.5, Jonathan Christensen, Southmont (Crawfordsville, Ind.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 7-0, Marcus Mason, Granite City (Granite City, Ill.), 2012

2. 6-10.5, C.J. Smith, Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012

3. 6-10, Wally Ellenson, Rice Lake (Rice Lake, Wis.), 2012

3. 6-10, Carl Heinz, River Forest (Oak Park, Ill.), 2012

3. 6-10, Kevin Spejcher, Lake Park (Roselle, Ill.), 2012

**Current 2012 Leaders

1. 7-0, Victor Glaze, Killeen (Killeen, Texas), 2012

1. (tie) 7-0, Rashaan Jones, South Lakes (Reston, Va.), 2013

Pole Vault

National Record: 17-9.25, Andrew Irwin, Mt. Ida (Mt. Ida, Ark.), 2011

2011 Best: 17-9.25, Andrew Irwin, Mt. Ida (Mt. Ida, Ark.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 16-6, Reese Watson, Spring (Spring, Texas), 2012

2. 16-1, Jacob Blankenship, Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio), 2012

3. 16-0, Shawn Barber, Kingwood Park (Kingwood, Texas), 2012

4. 15-8.25, Dillon Lookout, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.), 2012

5. 15-8.25, Terry Batemon, Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012

**Current 2012 Leaders

1. Barber, 17-6.5

2. Watson, 17-6

Long Jump

National Record: 26-6.5, Dion Bentley, Penn Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 1989

2011 Best: 25-9.5, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 24-3.75, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013

2. 23-8.5, Ray Beverly, Pike (Indianapolis, Ind.), 2012

3. 23-6, Anaquan Peterson, Lakeland (Suffolk, Va.), 2012

4. 23-5.5, Cameron Burrell, Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas), 2013

5. 23-3.25, Ismail El-amin, Wilson Magnet (Rochester, N.Y.), 2012

**Current 2012 Leader

1. Field, 25-5.75

Triple Jump

National Record: 52-7.5, Keith Holley, Bayside (Virginia Beach, Va.), 1988

2011 Best: 52-1.5, Marquis Dendy, Middletown (Middletown, Del.), 2011

2011 season best, name, school, class

1. 48-7.5, Anaquan Peterson, Lakeland (Suffolk, Va.), 2012

2. 48-5.5, Imani Brown, Reading (Reading, Pa.), 2012

3. 48-3.75, Josh Dixon, Cedarburg (Cedarburg, Wis.), 2012

4. 47-4.5, David Johnson, Charlottesville (Charlottesville, Va.), 2012

5. 47-2.25, Jared Posey, William Penn (York, Pa.), 2012

**Current 2012 Leader

1. 49-8.25, Devin Field, Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas), 2013