Courtesy of Michelle Bokamper
Terra Nova junior Jeremy Wright took first place in the 400-meter dash at last Friday’s Central Coast Sectional finals. With a time of 47.01, Wright cracked the state’s all-time top 50 in the event.
For a lifer on the track, Terra Nova’s Jeremy Wright is just hitting his stride.
Or is he?
Last Friday at the Central Coast Section track and field finals at San Jose City College, Wright topped the podium in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.01 seconds. Not only is it the second best time in California this season — Cameron Stone of Sheldon High School has a slight edge with a 46.99 — Wright set a personal record and also cracked the all-time California top 50 with the dynamic CCS performance.
Because of this exceptional accomplishment, Wright has been named the San Mateo Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
It may seem Wright is really hitting his stride this season. According to the junior sprinter, however, the best is yet to come.
“My coaches and I would all expect me to continue improving and be hitting 46s, and maybe even a 45 by the end of next season,” Wright said. “Coming into this season … I set a goal for myself to run a sub-47. And I’m basically on the threshold of that at the end of this season. So, if I continue to improve and continue to grow like I have been, I feel like that’s definitely in reach.”
Wright has one more meet remaining this season, when the state’s best track and field competitors travel to Clovis for Friday’s state finals. In tabbing a 400-meter time under 48 seconds at the CCS finals, Wright qualified for nationals. Because Terra Nova head coach Michelle Bokamper is taking a step-by-step approach with the potential track star, though, and because it’s a fairly pricey excursion, Wright will bypass the trip to North Carolina this season.
“As a coach, you don’t have a lot of athletes that will come your way that are talented,” Bokamper said. “In a coaching career, some people only see this once where they have an athlete is a state contender multiple years in a row in tack and field. So, from that standpoint it’s really cool. And then from another standpoint, for Jeremy going into next year, my goal would be for him to compete at the national level — to try and go to nationals next year.”
Wright has made great strides since debuting in the varsity ranks last season. He owns one of the most impressive statures in the Peninsula Athletic League at 6-4, 195-pound. And after topping out at 49 seconds as a sophomore, he shaved two seconds off his personal record in one year’s time.
In fact, he improved it by .6 seconds in just a matter of weeks. At the PAL Championship held May 17 on his home field of Terra Nova, Wright notched a personal record of 47.61 in the 400-meter. Then at the CCS trials on May 24, Wright ran an unofficial time of 47.2 in the final leg of the 4x400 meter relay.
Terra Nova’s 4x400 meter relay team didn’t qualify for CCS finals, but Wright qualified individually in two events: the 200-meter and the 400-meter. He took fifth place at finals in the 200-meter with a time of 21.83.
It was the 400-meter in which Wright shined though. In the middle lanes, he locked up with Serra’s Kyle Orloff and Palo Alto’s Nick Sullivan, both of whom are seniors. In the trials, the three finished within .2 seconds of each other, with Wright barely holding on for the win.
Running out of the fourth lane in Friday’s CCS finals, Wright battled Orloff neck-and-neck through the first 300 meters. As they rounded the final turn, however, Wright exploded into the straightaway to take down his opponent. Orloff took second place with a 47.52, trailing Wright by over half a second. Sullivan took third place with a 48.82.
“I was really happy with my time,” Wright said. “I was a little nervous going in because I know we all qualified really close together, but I think I knew I had a little bit of something extra in terms of really turning over and finishing the race.”
Wright has been running for as long as he can remember. And he learned when he was quite young he could outrun anyone on the playground.
“On the playground, you play tag and stuff, and no one would want to play with me because I was too fast to play with,” Wright said.
By the time he was in second grade, the Pacifica native was already running in track meets. But throughout most his life he had focused solely on sprinting. Prior to this season, however, Wright underwent a new regiment of distance running. Throughout December and January, he committed to a daily cross-country training schedule of no less than three miles and no more than eight, Wright said.
“I thought I needed the extra training in order to get where I wanted to be, and my coaches basically facilitated the idea and encouraged me to come out for off-season track,” Wright said.
Yet, Bokamper and assistant coach John McMullen remain focused on reining in Wright’s mechanics. With such a tall frame, it has taken some work. At present though, Bokamper said she is more mindful of Wright’s pacing.
“One of the things that I was telling him, when you start getting up there in the heavier competition, is to get out more aggressively,” Bokamper said. “You can’t always come from behind and expect to win. So, we were playing with the fact of getting out more aggressively and then holding on towards the end, then just think about form. … With him, because he is really tall, you can see his form is really good.”
And while the best is no doubt yet to come for Wright, he’s already reaping the rewards of loving what he does.
“I feel myself being able to push myself faster as the race continues,” Wright said. “At the end of the race, you just feel like you’ve gone faster and you can put yourself at a point where you can still go even faster.”
It’s going to take all he has to realize his goal of running a 400-meter in under 46 seconds as a senior though. Only nine boys in history have ever cracked the 45-second threshold in the event. Henry Thomas of Hawthorne Secondary School set the all-time mark in 1985 with a time of 45.09.