by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports
Norview freshman Jaelynn Wynder-Hill could be a future Olympic athlete. The multi-event standout has already qualified for the national indoor track & field meet with a blazing 7.24 time in the 55m dash, along with the Pilots 800m relay team.
With the next Summer Olympics still a year away, for now, Wynder-Hill will have to settle for USA Track & Field Youth Athlete of the Year honors. The award is given to the top youth track and field athlete in the state of Virginia, with Wynder-Hill recently taking home the distinction for girls ages 13-14.
“I was really happy when I found out I won. I felt like this was a very big accomplishment in my track career. I was also very grateful to be surrounded by many other upcomimg athletes who won the award for their age group,” Wynder-Hill said of her selection.
Wynder-Hill dominated on the middle school level, setting records in three events during the Norfolk/Portsmouth track & field championships as a seventh grader. She also competes during the summer with Global Transitions Academy, a program headed by former Norfolk State University star Marlon Woods. Global Transitions also produced another USATF Athlete of the Year winner with Shawn Church Jr taking home the 9-10 year old boys award.
Though a true standout in her own right, Wynder-Hill is far from the only star in her household. Older brother Camren is also a state qualifier for the Pilots indoor boys track team in the 300m, long jump and 800m relay and 1600m relay.
Their mother, Carmen Wynder-Jefferson, is the head girls coach at Granby High School. Carmen’s husband, Kendal, is also assistant coach at Old Dominion Universiy. That calls for a juggling act from all parties involved, but the family likely wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It actually helps a whole lot. Its good having people to talk to about my good things or bad things and they understand it and they can help me fix the little mistakes,” Wynder-Hill said of her family’s extensive track background.
Even with an assortment of standouts within her immediate family, Wynder-Hill looks to the past for her track inspiration.
“My favorite track and field athlete of all time is Florence Griffith Joyner, aka FLO-JO. I want to be able to break her records one day. I look up to her because I love the way she had her own style on the track, and how she was very, very fast, humble, and very pretty. I also love the way she dresses on the track,” said the young phenom.
Both Camren and Jaelynn will compete in this weekend’s Class 5 state indoor track & field championships at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Virginia. Jaelynn enters the state meet ranked eighth in the long jump and ninth in the 55m dash, which puts her third and first among freshmen in Virginia.
Another fun fact: Jaelynn is also a member of the Pilots varsity girls basketball team, which could put her in a tough bind this week as the region playoffs for high school basketball begins tonight. A win tonight for Norview would mean a region semifinal game this Saturday, which would fall on day two of the state indoor track meet.
“I go to both practices (track first from 2:40-4) and then basketball from 4-6. Also most of our meets and games don’t conflict with each other but when they do I go to one and then the next time it happens I go to the one I missed last time,” Wynder-Hill noted.
Good thing for Jaelynn, indoor track season ends this weekend regardless of Saturday’s outcome, but she understand a permanent decision between the two sports may soon be on the horizon.
“I do feel that I may have to eventually choose based off how demanding both sports are, but I really hope I do not have to because I love both. It will not be anytime soon,” Adding, “My track and field aspirations for long term is to compete in three to four Olympics and to win a gold medal in all of my events.”