Rain was falling and athletes were leaving the facility Friday afternoon, but Tudum Monday and Jacob Jackson were still on the track, huddled around Edward Little track coach Rebecca Hefty and her phone as they analyzed videos of their triple jump forms.
Jackson was watching Monday’s form and Monday was watching Jackson’s — each learning from the other.
Jackson, a senior, is ranked first in the state in the triple jump with a top distance of 42 feet, 9 inches. He’s also ranked second in the state and Class A in the high jump (6-2) and fifth in Class A in the long jump (20-02).
Monday, a sophomore, is ranked 12th in Class A in the long jump (19-07.5) and 13th in the triple jump (38-6.75), as well as first in the 300-meter hurdles (42.82 seconds) and fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (16.65).
The pair compete in some of the same events, but Hefty also has been moving Monday all over the track, experimenting to see where he can be the most successful. Due to that tinkering, Monday and Jackson haven’t directly competed against each other too often in the long and triple jumps.
“The thing that’s been hard is I’ve been playing around with different events with Tudum, so (Thursday’s meet at Oxford Hills) was really the first time that they actually were together in the long jump,” Hefty said. “They haven’t had the opportunity to be competitive against each other, so next Saturday against Lewiston will really be the first time they get to be competitive with each other. Tudum learns a lot and Jake is a great tutor and a great teacher and really leads by example. I think Tudum looks up to that.”
TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE
The two have taken somewhat different paths to their so-far successful 2021 seasons.
Monday competed in track and field in eighth grade and used his raw athleticism to excel. But one meet soured his outlook on jumping.
“Eighth grade, I did my thing. I knew I was more athletic than everybody, I was faster, so I just did whatever,” Monday said. “I didn’t have technique or anything, I just ran and jumped. For that long jump, my first two jumps I DQ’d, and I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ But I had a third jump and I wasn’t going to leave. I jumped, like, 15, and I was 10th and I said, ‘Whatever, I’m not doing that.’”
When he reached high school, he was ready to compete in outdoor track and field as a freshman, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring sports in 2020. So Monday received a jolt this season when Hefty preached technique to him over and over, practice after practice.
“It was a big shock,” Monday said. “This year, the first couple days I was like, ‘What is this?’ I don’t even know. Hefty just wanted to see where our endurance was and where we were, and I know I have a strong mentality since I’m a super-competitive person and I don’t like losing. I feel like the difference coming into this year I was expecting it to be like middle school. A little more serious, but it was way different. It was a lot of technique. I’ll be running, just running, and Hefty will tell me to point my toes, and I’m like, ‘There’s technique for running? I didn’t even know.’
“There’s a lot of changes, especially knowing that track is serious. Running, jumping, there’s a lot of technique that you need to put inside you. You need skill for it.”
Hefty remembers seeing how far Monday jumped as a middle schooler and recognizing how much potential he had.
“Tudum is one billion-percent raw talent,” Hefty said. “That raw talent only takes you so far, so if he wants to be running with those next-level athletes, technique is key. Kids like to sprint and think they are super fast, but when push comes to shove you’ve got to have the form to finish the race.”
Monday has been working with Hefty on finishing jumps and races. During the Red Eddies’ most recent meet, Monday took advantage of a competitor hitting a late hurdle and ran past him to achieve Class A’s top 300 hurdles time of 42.82 seconds. Hurdles have turned into Monday’s favorite event, and he has his sights set on Edward Little’s school record of 39.33, set in 1980.
“People say I can jump and run, but from my perspective, some people are good at running, and some people are good at jumping, but I am good at both,” Monday said. “Especially how in hurdles you’re running and jumping, running and jumping around the track; I specialize in that, in a way, just because in all sports, soccer, basketball, there’s running and jumping in both of those. It’s an automatic thing, so I feel like hurdles were made for me.”
LONG TIME COMING
Jackson used to play baseball. He never skied competitively like his brothers, J.J. and Connor, but followed in Connor’s footsteps during his freshman year when he got back into indoor track and field, then outdoor, after a summer track stint that reeled him back into the sport after not competing since the third grade.
“Connor had more influence on me because he did track, and he helped me throughout my freshman year because that’s when I got into it and started learning more about technique,” Jackson said. “He helped me the most through my freshman year.”
As he went through his freshman year of track and field, Jackson jumped around from event to event, trying to land in a place that fit his skills. Hefty often reminded him that he didn’t have to do the events his brother did, but the places he kept landing were in the sand pits and the high jump mats.
“Jake had his brother, and his brother was a big jumper,” Hefty said. “I remember when Jake was a freshman and I said, ‘You know, Jake, you don’t have to do the same events as your brother, you can try something else.’ We tried different events, but it always came back to jumping. Connor was a hurdler but Jake is a jumper, but he’s also a pretty quick sprinter, too.”
After missing last year’s outdoor season and this year’s indoor season, Jackson tried to work out and stay ready for his final season this spring.
“(Not having a 2020 spring season) affected me pretty good because I couldn’t do anything, then we didn’t have indoor, so two seasons off really did damage,” Jackson said. “I haven’t done as well as I did in indoor last year, yet but I am getting there. I didn’t feel like I entered this year that far behind because I was still training a lot.”
His spirits quickly went up when this spring came around.
“Senior year, my favorite sport and I get to do it. … Getting into an outdoor season felt amazing. I am having a lot of fun this year,” Jackson said.
Fun might be an understatement.
Jackson said he is capable of winning all the jumps at the KVAC championship meet, and he ranks in the top five in Class A in each jump. In the first meet of the season, Jackson set a personal record in the high jump, 6-2, then had to regroup and try 6-4 for the first time. His run up was never quite correct and he didn’t get over the bar, but a personal record so early on in the season lifted his spirits.
Jackson missed over a week due to Edward Little High School’s quarantine rules, but he is back and working with Hefty and the Red Eddies’ high jump coach, Angie Jalbert, to perfect his technique.
“They’ve always been on my side through all of track, and it’s nice to have a coach with you that actually knows the event and can coach you through it and tell you what you’re doing wrong. It’s nice to have,” Jackson said.
RESPECT AND RESULTS
Monday wants a state championship for the team, but he also is competitive enough to want some titles of his own.
“My goal, it’s not even a me thing, I just want my whole team to win,” Monday said. “I want us to have 2021 on that banner in the gym, and I want that especially for the seniors. Personally, I’m so competitive I don’t want to lose. My goals are to beat the record in 300-meter hurdles. I feel like the school record is breakable and any record is breakable if you put your mind to it. I think having a strong mindset and a positive mindset, having God-given athleticism to run fast and jump high is amazing, and I can put that in tight spaces and do my best at all times.”
Having watched, practiced with and competed against Monday this season, Jackson said that the sky’s the limit for his sophomore teammate.
“Tudum shocked me a lot with all of his jumps,” Jackson said of his first impressions of Monday. “If he can just get his form down, next year he will easily get first in everything. If he gets his form down, he’s set.”
Monday, meanwhile, looks up to the senior, and he closely watches Jackson on the runway in order to glean some knowledge.
“I have a lot of respect for Jake; he’s insane, he can really jump,” Monday said. “Practicing with him will help me get better and help him get better. Him and I are both competitors and we both want to win, especially how me and him are top in the state in certain things, we always want to compete and win. Having a person like that to practice with everyday, that’s something a lot of people don’t have. … Me having Jake, who can literally jump to the moon, really helps me think that I am trying to learn and sit back and see what he does and add it to my own.”