It was cold at last Saturday's Cougar Relays at Quince Orchard High School.
Renaldo Smith wore long pants and long sleeves under his Sherwood track uniform. He wore a jacket over everything whenever he could. He
fought the wind and cold for a new meet record of 46-04.00 in the triple jump. It was not nearly as momentous as it might have been had he
not jumped 47-02.50 in his previous two meets.
"I think I'm on the right track," he said, after he also scratched in the long jump on three consecutive attempts.
"I just need to shape up, get a little training in, and I will be fine. For me it means a lot because I'm going to college this year and I
want to prove to them that I can jump at the next level."
Smith wants to do great things in his final year at Sherwood High School, but nothing would compare to the experience of jumping at the
Penn Relays. He has run in the relays in Philadelphia, but to be accepted to compete in a field event sometimes requires a top ten U.S. high
school performance prior to April.
"I've been there [Penn Relays] for two years in a row since I came here. It's a great feeling, but to jump there..." he paused.
He continued after he collected his thoughts.
"You know, I'm from Jamaica. I want to compete against the top guys. I want to see where I rank jumping with the top guys from Jamaica...so
for me it's like my Olympics."
Smith came to America in 2014 when his aunt pushed him to make a change. According to him, she wanted to find a school where he could stand
out in track & field and stay out of fights.
"She knew...I always got into fights so she wanted a school that doesn't have any of that. So we went and found Sherwood. We went up there
and I liked the school, and I was like, 'Let's go. Sherwood.'"
He never knew his parents. He was told that his father was six-foot-five, so the six-foot-four senior hopes that he has another inch to grow.
His parents passed away when he was a baby, but almost as soon as he could walk, he was running.
"I've been running track since I was little: four years old...just a little bit of
running. I started getting into track when I was six and from there I never stopped. I just kept going. Kept running. I started the jumps
around 2011. I started doing the long jump first. When I came here in 2014, I started doing the triple jump."
In his first full year of triple jumping, Smith bounded to third place at the Maryland outdoor state championship with a mark of 45-06.25. In
his second year, he improved his consistency, but he was hampered at times by injury. This past winter, he jumped 45 feet in his very first
meet of the indoor season, but he suffered an injury that nearly ended his final high school indoor season.
"I had a groin problem going on since I came here, but it wasn't like bad, bad, bad. Then last indoor season it got really worse. We thought
I was fine...went to my doctor and everything. Came back and opened my season good with a 45 feet, and then it just went bad from there."
"I did a 400 and my groin started hurting. Went back to the doctor...he did an ultrasound on me. There wasn't anything. It was just muscles
in there that were torn so I had to sit out and get it healed."
His two consecutive 47-foot performances to start the outdoor season were especially surprising considering he missed so much training time.
The entry standard for the Penn Relays is just 45-11.25, but achievement of the standard does not guarantee entry. The deadline for achieving
the standard was April 3, just two days after the Cougar Relays. Coach Dan Reeks submitted Smith's 47-02.50 performance for consideration,
and now we wait.