Kinston's Niejel Wilkins wins state championship in triple jump
Kinston’s Niejel Wilkins won the NCHSAA 1A/2A Indoor State Championship triple jump event on Saturday in Winston-Salem. The senior recorded a distance of 46 feet, 3 inches, a personal best. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
The best triple jumper in the 2A ranks in North Carolina is a Kinston High School student-athlete.
Niejel Wilkins won the event at the Indoor State Championship meet at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem on Saturday. The senior posted a result of 46 feet, 3 inches, winning the meet by 14 inches, and obliterating a personal high of 44 feet, 5 inches he set in December.
As a result, Wilkins also qualified for the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in New York City, an event running from March 8-10.
Wilkins, who won every meet except one — finishing second in it — said he was blessed to win a state title.
“I tried to stay humble and focused, keep my mind right because there’s a lot of technical stuff that I (needed to do),” Wilkins said. “Trying to hit my goals was my main focus, so that’s what kept motivating me every week.”
Kinston coach Crystal Bryant said Wilkins’ work ethic is unquestioned.
“We have to run him out of practice at times,” Bryant said with a laugh. “Sometimes, he won’t finish stretching with the team at the end because he’s still working on his jumps.”
Wilkins said he constantly works on his craft to improve.
“I like to try to be the earliest one and I’m usually the one that leaves the latest,” Wilkins said. “I’m always trying to perfect what I need to do until I’m satisfied with what I’m doing … some people just think it’s jumping. It’s really more than that — plyometrics, getting in the weight room a lot, running a lot (and) getting my speed together.”
Wilkins is undecided on what college he’ll attend, but he is well on his way to fulfilling a promise he gave his mother.
“(I told my mom) she won’t have to pay for anything in college,” “That’s been driving me a lot, (so) I’ve been staying focused and keeping God first.”