CARSON CITY — Dominic Smallwood’s best jumps always seem to come out of nowhere.
Take last year, for example. As a junior at Silverado, Smallwood set a personal record in the boys triple jump by more than 2 feet to capture the Division I state title.
Then last week at the Sunrise Region track and field meet, the Indiana signee surpassed the magical 50-foot mark in the event despite a sprained ankle that limited his practice time and a dreadful start to the competition.
“The triple jump is an event like that,” Smallwood said. “You’ll keep hitting a low mark, and then you’ll just PR (set a personal record) by a couple feet.”
Smallwood hopes he has a few more surprising performances in store when the Division I state meet gets under way at 3 p.m. today at Carson High. The meet continues at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The Division I-A, Division III and Division IV state meets also take place at Carson High.
“Aside from a natural ability, which he does have, he has a great work ethic,” Silverado jumps coach Kristie Heaton said. “We’ve been really working on his speed and his leg strength instead of form so much, which is one of those boring things to do in practice.
“You kind of want to have the fun and jump. But he’s been willing to work that, and it pays off.”
Last season, Smallwood was consistently triple jumping more than 46 feet and finished second in the Sunrise Region. During his series, Smallwood scratched on a jump he said would have exceeded 48 feet, and his confidence began to soar. The following week, he stunned the field at the state meet with a mark of 49 feet, 2 inches to win by nearly 2 feet.
Smallwood set a goal this season to surpass 50 feet, the gold standard in the event for prep boys, and it finally came last week, but not without a bit of drama. Smallwood scratched on his first two attempts and had to make a safe jump on his third try just to advance in the competition. On his final three jumps, he went 48-7, 49-7 and 50-1, which broke the all-time Southern Zone record.
The 50-1 is the No. 4 legal mark in the U.S. this year, according to athletic.net and Dyestat.com, and it’s worth noting that Smallwood was well behind the board on the record-setting jump.
“I sprained my ankle about three weeks ago, and I resprained it again at regions (May 10). I was just trying to work through it,” Smallwood said Saturday. “I think it was just some technique that was left in me, the clap, the crowd.”
Smallwood competed at the Sunrise meet with “4CC” written on his shoes as a tribute to Christian Cunningham and will do so again at state. The younger brother of Bishop Gorman standouts Randall II and Vashti Cunningham, Christian died in 2010 at the age of 2.
Smallwood and Randall II have been friends since middle school and competed together as freshmen at Silverado when the Skyhawks won the 2011 Class 4A state team title.
“When you reflect on what you have and the opportunities you have, it’s kind of sad to see that taken away from someone else,” Smallwood said. “So, really, me jumping for Christian is me jumping for my family, my friends, just the opportunity.”
Smallwood also is the top seed in the long jump (23-11½) and No. 3 in the high jump (6-7), which both take place Saturday. His qualifying mark for today’s triple jump is nearly 3½ feet ahead of second-seeded Jordan Austin of Canyon Springs (46-10½), and he knows the rest of the field will be shooting for him.
“A lot of people are coming after me every day,” Smallwood said. “They talk to me all the time, and that’s what makes it fun.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.