Jay Avery's Ceiling Continues To Grow. In Three Events.

* Hoover's Jay Avery is one of the country's top multi-purpose jumpers

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By Brett Haffner - MileSplit Correspondent

Let's start first with a comparison. Think about the best track and field athletes at the NCAA level who excel at multiple jumping events: LSU's JuVaughn Harrison is a prime example. 

His versatility is part of his dominance over the long jump and high jump. He's the reigning NCAA champion in both events. 

So you have Harrison, who takes on two events.

But what about three? Few athletes can legitimately be elite in all of them.

Which brings us to Jay Avery, who is not only Alabama's best jumper, but one of the country's best triple-faceted field athletes. The Hoover athlete, who also is a safety for the school's powerhouse football program, takes on the long jump, triple jump and high jump.

This indoor season alone, Avery connected on a 23 foot, 8 inch mark in the long jump, a 48-8.75 mark in the triple jump and went 6-6 in the high jump. They're all extremely high-level marks on the national scene. He's ranked No. 44 on the most current MileSplit50 rankings

There aren't many guys who dominate the leaderboards like Avery ... and get this: He's only a junior. 

Fresh off a team title for Hoover at the AHSAA Class 7A Indoor State Championships, Avery's remarkable triple nearly resulted in three individual state titles.

His second-place performance in the high jump came down to misses. His long and triple jump performances earned him state championships, the first two of his young career.

However, aiming for those three wasn't exactly the plan.

"I originally wanted to just win the triple jump and high jump [at state]," Avery said. "Then after hitting 6-6 the week before, I wanted to also win the high jump to get more points for the team."

So where did it all start? As a middle schooler, Avery had to beg his parents to join the track team. They eventually gave in, which gave him the opportunity to explore his first interest: The sprints.

After giving the jumps a try, however, he began to find what he excelled in. He honed on the jumps discipline. He got to do all three of his main events in middle school, which allowed him to slowly find out that his strength was his versatility. 

Given the opportunity to practice with the Hoover High School team as an eighth grader, Avery saw that "it was a lot more fun being around people who wanted to compete and train at a higher level."

It was clear that Hoover was the place to be for an athlete of Avery's caliber -- the standard at the Alabama powerhouse football and track program is to aim for team state championships.

And this much is true: Avery's presence and prowess since attending Hoover has been integral to the team's success.

Competing most meets with a combination of the long jump, triple jump and high jump, Avery has turned each of those events into his specialty.

He's currently ranked US No. 8 in the triple jump, US No. 13 in the long jump, and US No. 30 in the high jump. That kind of range and versatility isn't something you see every day. 

Related Links: 

National Long Jump Rankings

National Triple Jump Rankings

National High Jump Rankings

But even with his impressive season on paper, there's still a story you don't see underneath: He struggled for three weeks in the middle of this indoor season with a hamstring strain. 

"It was a struggle to come back from my hamstring [strain]," Avery said. "I ended up focusing on high jump after that before the state meet since I hadn't qualified yet. I was doing as much rehab as I could, even if it was too much at times."

That switch in focus paid off well, as his high jump was clearly elevated to the level where his long and triple jump performances had already been. 

Is he done?

Not just yet. Avery hopes to compete at New Balance Nationals Indoor, ideally in the triple jump.

There's still time before the postseason really kicks in, he says, so we'll likely see him throw down some more marks before then. Heading into the outdoor season, Avery hopes to broaden his already-potent arsenal by tapping into the sprinting side of things. 

"I'd like to start to try sprinting again this outdoor season," Avery said. "I'd like to help get the team more points and try the relays, like the 4x1 or the 4x4, or even the 100m or 200m, too."

Aiming to take home both the indoor and outdoor team titles with his Hoover squad, Avery's potency would only increase more than it already has. It's a great team asset, but it's also a great recruiting chip, too. 

As he looks forward, he'd like to aim for the long jump, triple jump and high jump state records for Alabama.

As an even bigger goal, he says, he'd like to get as close as he can to the national records in the triple jump and high jump.

"The records are a really big goal of mine this next year," Avery said. "Even though they're big, I think I can achieve them if I work hard enough." 

For an athlete who is surrounded in a great team environment, having the work ethic to drive him to the highest level, and range that can't be matched by many, Avery is a name to watch out for over the next year and a half as a high school track and field athlete.

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