Despite suffering a torn meniscus last October during football season, Kingsley Okoronkwo is having his best track and field season yet.
That’s saying a lot considering the Christopher High senior was one of the top triple jumpers in the Central Coast Section last year. Okoronkwo has established personal-records (PR) in the triple jump, long jump and 200-meter run this season and enters the CCS Semis at Gilroy High on May 13 expecting to hit some big marks.
“Although I’ve had some good PRs, I’m expecting a really big break, a really huge number to put out,” he said. “The amount of work I’ve put in so far, I’m really looking to do something big every time I’m competing.”
Okoronkwo won the long jump, triple jump and took fifth in the 200 in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Championship Finals on May 6 at Westmont High. He didn’t PR in either of the jump events but has the No. 3 mark in the section in both, a 45-3 ¾ in the triple and 23-2 in the long.
Okoronkwo nailed his long jump PR at the CCS Top 8 Invite at Los Gatos High on April 21, a performance that stood out because he was remarkably consistent from start to finish.
“Hitting 23 that first jump and a few times after that was really good,” he said. “My lowest jump was probably 22-6. I even scratched another big one, so it really shows how much I can do. Coming into Top 8 and just being in an atmosphere where it’s very possible for me to lose, I thrive in that competition. That’s where I want to be at my best.”
The other local boys winner at BVALs was Gilroy sophomore Kaiden Gonzales, who unleashed a throw of 46-11 to win the shot put. Gonzales has the No. 10 mark in the CCS at 47-4 ½, which is a full five feet longer than his best from last season.
Christopher senior Melia Middleton has been the top girl athlete in the South Valley area all season. The University of Nevada-Reno signee won the 300 hurdles at BVALs in a PR of 44.10 seconds, the top time in the CCS this year.
It was her second PR in the event in as many meets, and she also nailed a PR in the 400, going 56.21—the No. 3 mark in the CCS—in the Santa Teresa East Division Finals on April 28. Middleton and Okoronkwo certainly have goals to make a return trip to the CIF State Championships.
First, they’ll need to get through the CCS Semis and then place in the top three in their respective events a week later in the CCS Finals to advance to State. Okoronkwo certainly isn’t taking anything for granted.
Not after sustaining a serious injury on the gridiron, which initially put his track and field season in jeopardy.
However, Okoronkwo didn’t need to undergo surgery and instead did an intense six-week physical therapy program that got him back on the road to recovery.
“I recovered pretty fast, thank God,” he said. “Coming off a torn meniscus to where I’m now, I’m definitely blessed to be in this situation. I’m just happy to be able to continue to do what I’m doing.”
Okoronkwo ran the 200 just once in competition last year, but he ran it four times this season, with a PR of 22.74.
“With that event, I’m not the fastest but I am fast,” he said. “It really does help for my jumping events, that and running a lot of 300 [meter repeats] in practice. Later in the season you have to do six jumps [per event] so doing the 200 is a lot of good conditioning for my jumps.”
Okoronkwo has a lot of speed on the runway, and he’s been pleased with his first and second phase of the triple jump. Now, he’s looking to make the jump—no pun intended—to the next level.
“I think moving forward to college eventually and [trying to win CCS], my third phase needs a lot of work,” he said. “I’ve been working on it a lot, and know if I can improve that, it’s going to push me to higher marks.”