Evart senior shines at Pioneer meet

EVART ― The girls long jump champion at Friday’s Pioneer Track and Field championships has been an all-stater in the past.

But this season, Jessica Tea-Hui of Evart was a rookie of sorts in the long jump.

An all-state high jumper, this marks Tea-Hui’s first season in the long jump. But she was first among the area’s best performers in the event at Top Taggart Field.

She also was the Pioneer meet’s high jump champ at 5-0 and took third in the 100-meter dash at 13.35 and third in the 200 dash in 27.32.

Tea-Hui won the long jump at regionals last week at 16-5. She was third at 5-1 in the high jump but qualifies for the state meet.

“I did really well in the long jump and got a PR actually,” she said. “This is my first time ever doing long jump in high school. I’ve been improving in every single meet.”

Friday night, despite finishing first, Tea-Hui didn’t think it was one of her best efforts this season.

“My legs were tired,” she said, while adding that Friday’s all-star competition should help her prepare for the state meet.

“She has a lot of physical ability for jumping events,” Evart coach Ken Willems said. “She has a lot of speed and a lot of spring, and has that going for her.”

Willems, Evart’s first-year coach, suggested to Tea-Hui in preseason that she try the long jump.

“She responded with enthusiasm when I suggested it,” Willems said. “A friend of mine from Indiana that I used to coach with years ago came up four and five times and is a good field events coach. He worked with her on that, and the other girls as well. But she’s talented.”

Tea-Hui admits that she’s easily exceeded her expectations in this event.

“I didn’t really have any,” she smiled. “I think it’s because I’m a good sprinter and I’m used to jumping.”

High jumping hasn’t been as strong for Tea-Hui as in the past. She was fourth in the state as a freshman at 5-3 in Division 3. Since then, Evart has been in Division 4. She tied for third at 5-3 last year at the state meet.

“My sophomore year, I developed this phobia of the bar,” she said. “It came back this season. But during indoor season I got 5-6. My highest for outdoors (this season) is 5-2.”

Tea-Hui, a senior, who will be running at Grand Valley State, was second in the Highland Conference meet last week in the 100 at 13.10 and third in the 200 at 27.40, plus second in the high jump at 5-2 and third in the long jump at 15-0.

“It’s all mental for me,” she said, adding that her goals at the state finals will be “just to place, really.”

Tea-Hui hopes to do well at the high jump at state finals.

“I started the 100 this year,” she said. “I think I did it once my freshman year. The best for that has been 13.4 which is pretty good.”

Tea-Hui indicated she should have done better but just hasn’t had time to practice the sprints as much as she would like.

Evart was second at regionals recently and Tea-Hui has played no small role in a solid team season.

“This year has been awesome,” Tea-Hui said. “We’ve all been trying so hard.”