Kinston's Niejel Wilkins holds state's best triple jump mark in 2A
The man with the best triple jump mark in 2A for indoor track and field is barely a year into the craft.
On Dec. 3 at the Nash Central Polar Bear meet in Rocky Mount, Kinston’s Niejel Wilkins set the mark with a 44-5, the best in the state through the NCHSAA classification. Until Christopher Alexander of 4A Rocky River High School posted a mark of 48-6.75 five days later, the senior was tops in North Carolina.
Wilkins said he started participating in the triple jump late into his junior year and worked toward getting better.
“Coach gave me a chance last year and I was able to qualify for states,” Wilkins said. “Being able to participate was good for me and toward the end of the year I tried to be better. I kept training and worked on my craft.”
Kinston coach Corey Bryant said Wilkins’ work ethic has helped push him to great heights.
“He was so versatile,” Bryant said. “He ran the 800 meters and we wanted to give him another event than just distance. He’s a hard worker, watches a lot of videos and wants to perform at a high level. There were some days where we didn’t have practice and he’d still go out to work on his own, so I’m not surprised by his success.”
The work continues for Wilkins, who has continued to hone his craft.
“It’s been kind of difficult,” Wilkins said. “I’m getting in the weight room more, strengthening my legs and doing a lot of single-leg exercises. My left leg is stronger than my right, so I need to get better on the other side. I’ve also been doing a lot of jumping.”
Wilkins has placed first in each of his meets so far, but said he won’t take anything for granted.
“The hard work has definitely paid off, but I’m staying humble,” Wilkins said.